Thoughts from a Steroid Crippled Brain

Vasculitis patients know all too well what it feels like to have your brain taken over by steroids. Kids these aren't the fun kind. These are the kind that give you all the side effects without the giant muscles. What follows is an attempt to portrait what a day in the head of a steroid crippled brain is like. Enjoy!

Lately, I've been battling an ear infections and had to suffer through another round of corticosteroids ahead of my infusions. Steroids suck. It's like playing Russian roulette with your sanity. Every time you take them and taper off, you know at some point you are going to absolutely lose your mind. It's not a matter of if, but when. So each dose is like pulling the trigger. You are just waiting for that hammer to land on a loaded chamber. Today I lost my mind. I woke up like I do a lot during relapses, incredibly tired, groggy, snotty, and coughing up nasty boogers with some caked in blood. Before I knew it, before I could even get my coffee in me, I felt like my mind was racing away from me. I've failed time and time again to describe it, but I felt like my thoughts had the accelerator stuck to the floor hoping to find a curve that it could take my mind right over the edge. It's an intense feeling. It normally comes with a tingling feeling at the base of my spine that crawls like a spider up my nervous system. I can't keep my thoughts straight. Focusing is impossible, I just want my mind to calm. How about meditation? Nope forget it. This is drug induced. This is stopping. Maybe I'll go for a run. I don't feel great, but that's better than sitting shaking and staring at the walls. So I attempt to hammer out my nerves on a run. Guess what, I'm not fit enough for that feeling. So that only makes me more anxious. Maybe a few quick sprints will help alleviate some of the stress. Don't want to overdo it though, so I take tons of rest. Shit. That was worthless. It just reminds me how far I am from being able to catch that feeling. Oh there's the gym. I'll go lift weights. That always helps. Besides the gym is a wonderful place to people watch and judge. Maybe if I wear myself out enough I'll crash and then when I wake up I'll be calm. Gym it is. I lift. I watch. I lift. I watch some more. It's after a holiday. The gym is basically dead. No meat heads for me to judge on their incredibly bad lifting form. So I fly through my routine. No broscience bros using the squat rack for curls. No lines. I kinda like this. More weights. More sets. I'm done. Do I roll out and stretch? I try. I know I need to. I can't sit still.  I try controlling my breathing. Think of your breathe. Only your...did I leave the coffee pot on? Shit. If I did Ryanna is gonna be pissed. I better beat her home. What am I going to cook for dinner? We had chicken last night, so it better be fish tonight. Do we have a vegetable? I don't know. Maybe I'll go by the store on the way home. That's a bad idea. I'll just get pizza. You ate bad enough this past weekend you slob. Eat right or you will feel even worse. Oh yeah feel. I feel tingly still. That's right I'm supposed to be breathing. Breathe in, there is only the breath. Think about only the breath Brandon. It's simple. You can beat this. You've beaten so many tougher things. You know you just need to ride it out like a wave. It will subside. You're not losing your mind. I promise. I'm still crazy clearly. I've racked up miles, sprints, and a gym session on a day that I didn't feel that great. You should be crashing by now though. It should be easier to breath. Just focus on your breathe you dumbass. Breathe in. Focus only on the breath. Let it go. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel your body relax. It's trying to but it's not you know it's not. It's going to eventually right? It has to. It always has. This one seems to be lasting longer though. The last time it wasn't this long. Why should this one be this long. It was such a short course of prednisone. It made sense last time. 6 months of prednisone will do that to you. Maybe it's not the prednisone. Maybe I am losing my mind. I can't calm down. Remember breathe. You haven't even made it through one stretch yet you idiot. Should I give up? Call it a day. People have to be staring by now right? I've just laid here in child's pose for eternity. This isn't stretching. This is lying face first on a mat. You should be better than this. You're 30 now Brandon figure out how to breathe and stretch. It's simple. Stop complicating this. Breathe in. Let everything go. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Deep this time. One of those good belly breaths that you know how to do Brandon. Let it go. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Shit it's not going away. I'm still a mess. I can't be here anymore. I feel like trapped. I have to get out. Let's go. Luckily I parked close and I can just run out to my car and be gone. Oh wait. You're an idiot Brandon. You are standing beside your car and your keys and bag are in your locker. I'm losing it. I'm really losing my mind.  I can't believe I just walked out of the gym like that. Hopefully the girl at the front desk won't ask for my card to scan again since she just saw me walk out. I don't want to talk to her. I can't talk to anyone right now. I feel like I'm lost. Too much going on. I walk back inside. She smiles and says, "forget something?" I babble, "yeah it's hard to drive without your mind, I mean keys" I laugh awkwardly. She laughs too. Really hard. Was that funny? Did I screw up and actually play that off? She was probably just being nice. Alright you have to hurry you have to get home. You may have left the coffee pot on and Ryanna may get home early today. I waive my keys as I exit at the front desk girl and yell, "I found my mind" and run out. Seems funny enough right? I peel out of the parking lot. Not on purpose, by accident. The turn is sharp and I have accelerate to beat traffic. Don't want to get stuck behind that long line of cars. Somehow I have lady luck on my side tonight. I'm catching all the lights. One last light left. I misjudge the speed of an on coming car. They are driving way slower than I expected. Too slow. People normally drive like bats out of hell through here. Is this guy on heroin? That could happen here. Maybe he is. Should I gun it to get in front of him? No maybe not that could startle him. As I wait the car behind me blast their horn. What is this New York now? There is an oncoming car you idiot. He gets impatient in his wanna be hotrod Dodge sedan. He darts around me. Cuts off the possible heroin driver. Gives me the finger and yells "F$%$ you" out his window. What is going on today? Am I finding all the crazy? The heroin driver passes. I make my turn. Before I know it I've caught Mr. Dodge sedan hotrod. He got stopped by a school bus letting out children. He tried to pass on the outside of course. His car is straddling the middle line. He looks out of place on this road. Luckily oncoming traffic stopped his wild driving. The kids are off the bus now. The bus driver turns the blinking red lights off and puts its stop sign away. Mr. Dodge floors it around the school bus. And again gives the middle finger salute. This time to the bus driver. What the hell is this dudes' problem? The bus driver takes the next turn. I'm back on Mr. Dodge again before I know it. He gets stopped again. This time by a UPS truck blocking traffic. He blows the horn and yells at the driver. Traffic is clear. It's my turn. I blow past him on the outside this time and waive my single finger salute. I hear screeching tires behind me. That was stupid. He is on me hot. Maybe that Dodge has more hotrod in it than I expected. Oh wait I'm driving a Rav4. I'm not hard to catch. Now that I'm back in front though, I'll just casually slow down before I get to my turn. I'll drift wide. He can't pass. I'm too smart for this asshole. If he is going to pass me he is going to have to hit me. I let off the gas. No brake lights. I stare into the riverview mirror. Mr. Dodge is furious. I can see the anger in his face. I've won! I slow down even more. Way too early. He tries to pass. I swing out a little. He goes further. I go with him. Then I cut back hard to my lane. He flies past me, finger out the window again. I laugh. He's just in time to get stopped by another school bus in the opposite direction. He slams on brakes. Tires screeching and smoking. Oh shit he had to lock them down. I make my turn for the neighborhood. I'm safe. Hopefully karma catches that ass today. Coffee pot. Hopefully I'm home first. As I round the corner before the house I can see the drive way. I breathe. I beat her.  I pull up in front of the house run inside. The coffee pot is off. Thank god. Saved. I look around the kitchen. What is there to eat? I'm starving. All this energy burning has worked up an appetite. While searching for food I look at the clock. What was I worried about? It's not even 3. Ryanna won't be home for at least another 2 hours. All that rushing for no reason. I'm losing my mind. Just eat something. Relax. I open the fridge. I grab a sparkling water. I'm an addict. These things are too good. Why did I ever talk shit about these things? I crush the first. I reach for another. Uh oh. I eye the beer. That's what I really want. I can't though. You're better than that right now Brandon. You don't need that. But you know you want it. I reach for it. Do you not have self control Brandon? What are you preaching to people? How to be a loser that still can't handle his shit at 30? Don't do it show self control. I close my eyes. I reach for a can. I grab it. I open it. The sound is perfect. The liquid hits my lips. It's lime flavored. And crisp. I take a deep breathe. It's not beer. I beat myself this time. Chalk up another win for BHudg. Now where can I get enough calories to feed this rampaging hunger? I open all the cabinets and fridge. Empty all the things I think go with yogurt and a few others. It's good. It's cool. Just what my hot temper needs right now. You need to slow down Brandon. What is the matter with you? This feeling isn't ok. I know it's not normal. This pace can't last. If you ever are going to get better, this mentality won't serve you well. If I get better that's the key phrase. What's going to happen if I can't stay in remission? Then my dreams are gone. So much for telling everyone to chase their dreams. It would be my dumb luck to encourage people to chase their dreams while I fail at mine. That'd be a perfect ending to my screwed up story. Oh well. It's probably what's in the cards. I've already lost my mind, so it will be a little easier to lose my dream once my mind is gone. I guess I better find a way to support this lifestyle if I can't catch my dream. Better start searching. I have a book to sell. I need to find people to sell it to. I open my computer. I try to desperately to think of a new social media post about my book. I draw a blank.  I stare at the blinking cursor with the words "What's on your mind?" staring me in the face. It's insult. What's on my mind Facebook? Everything you dump social construct. Life, love, happiness, dreams, defeat, anger, bitterness, heartache, loss... everything is on my mind right now. How can I put it into a post that sound coherent. I can't. Maybe I'll write a blog. That always helps. I pull up a blank template. I stare at the screen. I write the words, "How do you explain to someone." I stop I can't even begin to explain it. I've tried time and time again. It's sad. What am I searching for? What do I want to share? What am I trying to do? Why am I even doing this? Any of this? Is this a lost cause? This time seems different. Could this be the relapse that doesn't go away? Would I really be happy? I told Kit yes. But can I be? I'm not done. I don't want to be done. It's not fair. This is bullshit. I just want that feeling back. That in the moment feeling. That feeling of flying. Is that too much to ask. It's so simple. Why does it have to be so hard for me. I notice I'm crying now. Wow Brandon. Really? I stare at the screen. No more words come out. An hour passes. My phone rings. It's Ryanna. Shit. I need to start dinner. Time to get your head out of your ass and get your duties done. People are relying on you.


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