Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who Will I Be? (Please Say Bradley Cooper -- Or Whoever Married Zooey)

What has taken longer than "Double-barrel Unemployment," dates back to the midpoint of GWB's second term in office and is about to end? The few of you out there who know me-- who am I kidding - that's pretty much all of you -- know that my weird little midlife array of illnesses - and the subsequent chemical regimen used to treat them - is coming to an end. Specifically, after four years, two months and twelve days, my love-hate relationship with Prednisone is ending. Friday, July 1st will be my first steroid-free day since April 17, 2007. Yeah, I know - Don't Put Deadlines On Your Dreams. Whatever. It's totally happening.

Reading about someone's medical stuff when that someone isn't, you know, you is ghastly boring and downright uncomfortable. "A rash where a sexually-inactive person ought not have one," you say? Wow - that's TWO things I didn't need to know. Whoa - 11:00 already? I gotta... Um... Okay bye. So I won't bother you with details. It's a long time to have been on this stuff, getting weaned off of it is rough, blah blah blah... [yawn, pass out, hit head on kitchen table, slip into coma, end up on news when [Maris] tries to honor my wish not to be kept alive in a vegetative state - like Texas! - ZING!!]

The simple fact is that I have been Steroid Joe for so long, I don't remember how to not be on Prednisone. I have been fixated on - at times utterly consumed by - my ongoing battle with 'roid rage and all those damnable side-effects and my quest to get off of the stuff for over four years. When 7/1/11 comes and I no longer have that war to fight, where will I turn my focus? What excuse will I have for being a thoroughly dark, mean person then?

Who will I be?

I kind of already know the answer, but what fun is it to just blurt it out and say goodnight? So, let's start with who I hope I won't be.

I hope I won't be that guy who can speak of nothing but his triumph over lung disease and Prednisone. That guy is BORING. Plus, I know I could have triumphed over scurvy, explosive hemorrhoids and three kinds of cancer, and the guy next to me at the bar would scoff at my paltry victory and proceed to describe how he beat a cobra bite, five cancers and a cannon wound in his everything - and all without any sissy drugs. So let's not do that.

I sincerely wish not to be a Kardashian. Especially the fat one.

If at all possible, I would like to avoid awaking next Friday morning to find that I'm still sick. OMG can you imagine the profanity!

I don't want to be a guy with a lot of responsibility - or ambition, for that matter. I just don't think I have the energy, right now.

So. Who will I be? Will I be so overcome with joy and relief that I dance from person to person giving out hugs and giggling at everything and soaking up every good atom I can find, humming and singing and smiling like a lunatic, just thrilled to have been given a new lease on life - and pissing off everyone who sees me? Maybe.

Will I be (dun-dun-DUNNNNNN) The Same Raging Asshat I've More Or Less Been For Over Four Years? Yeesh - now we're back to who I don't want to be. It's possible, though.

Will I be David Hasselhoff, sitting shit-faced on the kitchen floor eating manwiches in front of my webcam at 3AM? Hmm... I could kind of go for a nice meat sandwich, right about now. Or a grilled cheese. I'm nothing if not easy.

Will I turn into a mature person - the adult I've yet to blossom into - full of wisdom and a calm, confident balance and, well, grip on the situation? One can dream, can't one?

Maybe I'll be Anton Corbijn or Godfrey Reggio or some other master of the visual arts. Then I can be a little "off" and nobody can say boo to me about it. Again - a man can dream.

Secretly, I'd kind of like to be Russell Brand. Not because of the career and money and pinup girl wife - although those are all selling points - but because he appears to be fairly intelligent and STILL comes across as just constantly having a simply wonderful time.

Here's the answer, though. Two answers, really. I've known them all along. In the immediate-term: I will be on Friday July 1st exactly the same man I was the night before (although possibly a little hung-over). In the longer term: I will gradually just become my old self again.

Maybe a little wiser.

Maybe a little more appreciative of my life and wife and health and the little rabbit that lives in our backyard.

Maybe a little more in love with Vicodin than I was before all this started.

But I'll be Old Joe, four-and-a-quarter years older. Those of you who knew him will be relieved. The rest of you - well, I hope you like me.


  1. Sounds like you have got the right attitude Joe.
    You are a survivor in spite of your protestations. You have a great wit and a wonderful sense of humour, both of which are live savers. I have long enjoyed your brilliant posts on Facebook and long may you continue to educate and amuse your followers. I wish you a long and happy new life.

  2. Thanks Mike! It's pretty exciting. I really did wonder if I'd live to see the day. Technically, I haven't yet, so I'll just shut up now and quietly wait for next Friday...

  3. Please don't be a Hasselhoff, the world doesn't need the one we have. But good luck on the other stuff....a Manwich DOES sound good now that you mention it though.

  4. I am curios, since this has been reposted, how did you fare? Do you like you now?

  5. UPDATE: I thought I was doing great, and I still *feel* pretty good, but less than a year later (May 2012), I was back on the stuff. It was a smaller dose, and we're already stepping that down month by month, so it hasn't been that bad.

    So - it's disappointing, but it could be so much worse!

  6. Joe, I think you have a wonderful attitude here. And based on your follow-up, I'd have to say that these kinds of relapses are very common and it's necessary to treat yourself with kindness along this journey. Those drugs tend to do a number on our system (I've been on anxiety meds for almost a year now and can't wait to get off the stuff) but you know, you have to take it as it comes and not beat yourself too much over it.

    And while I think a drunk David Hasselhoff is always good for a laugh, you are just fine the way you are :)

    Stopping in from S3P today and so happy I had the chance to read your words.

    1. Thanks, Charlotte!

      I am cautiously happy to report that we're getting down to the end of the dreaded prednisone step-down. I say cautiously, because the weaning can be rough, and because who knows what will pop up again in the months to come. Still - it's nothing like 2011, so far!

      And somehow, I'm still me! And I guess it's just as well; Zooey's husband isn't her husband anymore, and [Maris] wasn't too keen on that idea, anyway. :)

  7. Finally got a chance to stop by from studio30+ and really appreciated your attitude and even the follow up. 'What excuse will I have for being a thoroughly dark, mean person then?' resonated with me. I enjoyed reading your post!

    1. Thanks, Sherr!

      Long-term prednisone use is serious business, so I try to remember to have some fun with it whenever I can. I'm glad you enjoyed it!