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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

~ a bodiless revenant

There is a long cycle that rises from relative calm to acute crisis and back again. Currently, thankfully, I’m enjoying one of those more peaceful times.

As usually happens, when I have time to reflect, I begin to worry about my health. I’m too mentally disorganised [and sick] to become a genuine hypochondriac, but I give it a decent shove.

[The origins of the word hypochondriac are described in the book on Mesmerism I’m reading. Mesmer placed the body’s ‘equator’ and ‘common sensorium’ at the hypochondria on the sides of the upper abdomen. Hypochondriacs were people with unbalanced humours who ‘elicited sympathy, not the scorn reserved for malades imaginaires’.]


First, I attempt to reign in my Nicorette habit. I gave up smoking aeons ago, replacing cigarettes with chewing gum. But I’ve been unable to shrug the actual nicotine addiction. If I don’t watch it, I’ll grind up a forty dollar packet of 4 mg gum in less than a week, and that’s not good for the health or the budget. It results in palpitations and bad head. My answer is to snip the tabs into four pieces and ration these out, with the vague intention of one day giving them up entirely …

Then I begin to worry about my fitness and my heart. I have a membership at the Monash Uni pool, which I maintain whether I go or not. Lately, I’ve been badly remiss in that area. My stomach is sagging. I have little endurance. But at last I’ve returned to the water, where I feel the most alive. I’ve been swimming all week and am just beginning to feel less like a bodiless revenant.

Then I will dwell upon my liver, my Achilles heel. Over time, I’ve endured three long and nightmarish interferon treatments in an attempt to rid my system of the HCV virus, but only the last – a combination therapy with ribavirin - came close to doing any permanent good. Tantalisingly close, actually. I’m sure that the next improvement in treatment will see a cure - so with that in mind I’m returning to the liver clinic, to once more bite the bullet.


My appointment is in a few months and in that time I’ll work to prepare myself. Though these days I’m generally an abstemious drinker, even smaller amounts can worry the liver. I’m determined to teetotal. And I’m going to enforce a dietary regime which I’ve tried and failed to maintain for decades. Minimal animal fats. Water by the bucket load. Ersatz coffee …

All these ersatz substances. Ersatz cigarettes. Ersatz heroin. Ersatz cheese. Ersatz peace of mind … I can deal with it, if it helps me feel human… I love the word ersatz by the way. I learnt it from Philip K Dick, who had a fascination with the German language. Literally, it means replacement or substitute, but it came into English use during the World Wars, when the desperate Germans, deprived of raw materials, used what they had to develop substitutes: ersatz rubber, ersatz heating-oil, ersatz tea, ersatz coffee …

People describe one of the symptoms of Hep C as ‘brain fog’. Well I’ve got that in spades and it erodes my ‘basal hedonic tone’ [this describes whether you feel happy or sad]. I’m sure it interferes with my work, and I’m sure that my daily dose of Spasmo-Nemigron [aka suboxone] is also partly to blame. And that’s another thing I have to address.

It was around this time last year that I decided I’d had enough of the sleepy emotionless cotton-wool world of buprenorphine and tried to come off. Obviously, I failed, but the urge is uprearing again and I’m hot to make another attempt. If things can stay commonsensical and calm in my life, then I might have a chance.

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12 comments:

lily was here said...

I have an ersatz life :)

Sam, just heard sadly about Heath Ledger and thought about you and our talk about Candy.. life imitating art?! gotta run, more later. Like the second photo, if they had eye models you'd have a calling

Sue x

Anonymous said...

wow! what a surprise.
really nice colours.

Anonymous said...

Wow Sam, the new Sails header looks FANTASTIC, did you do that?

You have so much talent Sam, I'm so glad to read you're taking steps to change your life and health for the better. It sounds like you have a lot of "hurdles" to get over, and I really, really hope you do.
love Amanda

Ann O'Dyne said...

I really like my own emotionless cotton-wool world.
Instead of coming off the bupro, is it possible to change to something similar in the desired effect but less soporific?
anyhow, encouragement and love ... h

gledwood said...

do you really see buprenorphine as an emotionless cottonwool world? wow!
I took it for a month or so and found it like scales falling off my eyes... everything was so blindingly clear I longed for the heroin again just to dampen stuff down a bit...

gledwood said...

ps i found you via a search someone used to find me (through sitemeter) some blog-directory thing I'd never heard of had both of us listed

gledwood said...

this one:

http://www.bloghop.com/tagview.htm?itemid=heroin

Sam Sejavka said...

Thanks re: the header.[Amanda, you're so sweet.] I thought it would be easy, but it wasn't. How do you characterise all the various stuff I put in this blog...? Then I accidentally spilled a bottle of water over it, and I think that gave it what it needed.

Good to get positive feedback, because I still can't decide if I like the 'S'

Sam Sejavka said...

Re: bupe. Definitely, it's a clearer life than the one you live on heroin, but it's usually a lot more regular. You never really get a break. And you can find yourself thinking that you're normal. But you've forgotten what it's like to normal ...

That's how it is for me, anyway. It's subtle and insidious. I know it's there because of the effect it has on my emotions. On sex. On music. On thinking...

I'll check out the link, gledwood.

lily was here said...

Oops,Im reading backwards again. Accidents often are the best creations.

Sam, you seem very fragile, both now and in your youth. Stick with your plan as much as you can and ask for support when you need it.. okay? Every attempt is not a failure, its a step closer to success. That sounds kind of corny cliche, but its true and discipline is a hard thing. Good luck! Maybe add a note to the end of each blog of how its going might help keep the incentive up? Keep up the strokes, in the pool AND here!

love Sue
x

princey said...

I see what mean about the "S", you should get rid of the outline maybe?
Love Amanda

Sam Sejavka said...

Awww ... I wish you hadn't said that about the 'S'. Never mind. I think I'll leave it as is for now. It's great getting so many comments about it, too.

Thanks, Sue. I suppose it's one of the reasons I'm doing the blog - to try to put some order on my life. It's amazing what a week of swimming can do; I feel like I'm beginning to inhabit my body again. I've got a deep-seated self-preservation instinct, as odd as that may seem, so I wouldn't class myself as fragile exactly ... perhaps 'endangered' would be a better word?

love, sam