2012 has come and gone without much fanfare. I happily spent New Years Eve quietly at home in my cozy apartment with Cole Porter, red wine and Don Draper for company. It wasn’t flashy and it certainly wasn’t very exciting, but to me, it was perfect. There’s no question that I’ve had a “difficult” year (it’s fair to say that that is a mild assessment), so to be able to enjoy my cozy Brooklyn apartment without too much worry or preoccupation about the state of my health, was the greatest gift I could ask for. The last three months of this year have ushered in quite a bit of change. Mostly for the better. I wanted to take a little time to recap a couple of things that have been going on as well as document my “intentions” for the upcoming year (“resolutions” are so passé apparently). So here it is:
I’ve Been a Human Guinea Pig and It’s Not So Bad
Not long after my last blog post, my health was vacillating between a stagnate, still miserable state or declining rapidly; basically it was going in every direction except for up. Faced with very few options, as I had exhausted pretty much every available Crohn’s treatment, I was left with a choice between surgery or a clinical trial. I met with both a surgeon and a doctor at Mt. Sinai who facilitates research trials for IBD (that’s inflammatory bowel disease for those in the know) to try and make what was essentially, an impossible decision. After a lot of thought (and a lot of tears), I chose to go in the trial direction. Although there were definite risks; mostly that there was a 50% chance for not getting the drug at all, I was quite frankly desperate and felt that it was the next logical step in my treatment plan. I had to go through a six week “wash out period” where I stopped all medications before I was eligible to start the trial. This was absolutely a scary time as I didn’t know if I was going to plummet even further without anything to keep the disease in check, no matter how moderate that “check” might be. There were a couple of complications here and there, but the important thing is, I survived only slightly worse for the wear.
The trial I’ve been undergoing is stem cell based. Technically, I suppose it’s a drug, but mostly it’s not. There is nothing artificial or chemical about it; nothing is suppressing your immune system or altering your biological functions (like a majority of the Crohn’s medications do), which is a large part of the reason why I wanted to participate in the first place. The medications that I have been on in the past are incredibly strong, sometimes scary drugs that have a whole host of side effects that can make you feel just as terrible as the disease does. So far, there have been no reported side effects with the stem cells during the trial. No, seriously, no reported side effects; hard to believe, but true.
It took a while, I was a “late responder,” as the doctor said, but the bottom line is, I started to respond. The last few weeks I’ve been improving bit by bit and I can honestly say I haven’t felt this good in years. I have a little ways to go and I’m not technically in “remission,” but I couldn’t be happier with the improvements I’ve made.
Being in a clinical trial is strange. You have to record your behaviors and forfiet a large chunk of your time for appointments and tests. I don’t think anyone signs up for these things unless they’re in an acute state of desperation, which I absolutely was. Obviously the drug is not available on the market and there is no precedence for it’s long term effectiveness or consequences for that matter, but that’s the risk you take when you participate. It’s working for now and that’s really all that I can focus on, and really, I’m completely grateful.
Working Girl (No, Not That Kind)
A month ago, the department at my company underwent a complete reorganization. This left me in a group with 33 other people who were unfortunately laid off. I’m still working there through the end of this month, but come February, my time will be ending. When the news came, I handled it surprisingly well (if I do say so myself). I didn’t freak out and I wasn’t even upset necessarily so much as I felt it was time for change. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen or where I’m going to end up, but I think whatever it is, it’s going to be ok and it’s going to be positive. I’m very open to whatever happens next; whether I find a new position with my current company or find a new company to work for, I welcome the change and the opportunity to move my life forward by whatever means possible. A part of me thinks that all of the battles this year I’ve had with my health have prepared me to deal with just about anything; that sort of trauma to your life really gives you a different perspective on things and whether you’re aware of it at the time or not, you come out on the other side a different, and hopefully better person because of it. Which segues quite nicely into…
Different, but Better and Happier
In 2012, I had a lot of time to think. I spent a lot of time with myself doing very little and interacting with very few people outside of my doctors. This was difficult, depressing, maddening, and frustrating in more ways than I can effectively articulate. I had the opportunity (more-so by force of circumstance rather than choice) to think about how I live my life and the choices I make and ultimately, who I am. It didn’t happen all at once and most of the time it felt like nothing was happening at all, but now as I’m entering the other side of all of this, I can see just how much I’ve changed and how much personal and emotional growth I’ve been through. Oddly enough, I feel more myself than I ever have; more confident, more secure, and happier. Almost everything changed for me in 2012, my world was turned upside down and put back together in a very unfamiliar way, but I’m handling it. Apparently therapy does work sometimes.
Marching Onward, Moving Forward
So now it’s 2013 and I feel in a lot of ways like a brand new person. I don’t know if I would say I have resolutions for the year so much as I have intentions on how I want to live my life moving forward and what I can do to feel more fulfilled personally, creatively, and emotionally. One of the things I intend to do more this year is this; write. I’ve missed writing and when I don’t do it I think that my neuroses take over a little too much; it helps me to get out of my own head. I will be updating this blog much more frequently than I have in the past and will be focusing more on film and pop culture. Since graduate school is on hold for the time being, I realized I still need an outlet for all of these thoughts that circle my brain. I enjoy theory and critical thinking, so I’m going to use this as my “academic” outlet. I need more projects; goals and things that I can work towards that are enjoyable and fulfilling. I will hopefully be writing more film reviews and coming up with some interesting features to do on a regular basis, which brings me to…
The Woody Allen Project
I’ve had this thought floating around in my head for quite some time that I wanted to watch every one of Woody Allen’s films (specifically just those that he’s directed, which is still a lot) and write about/review each one. I’m still not sure of the form it will take or if it will interest anyone except for myself, but I think it will be enjoyable nonetheless. Eventually I think it would be fun to rotate directors whom I adore (Almodovar, Hitchcock, Truffaut, etc.), however for now, it will just be Woody.
I’m hoping to do Take the Money and Run sometime this week. Stay tuned.
I generally have some distaste for overly saccharine posts about the new year, but my outlook on this one is different and a little bit less cynical than I’m used to. I’m looking forward to this year being better than the last by leaps and bounds.