This is not a maudlin post.
My life is GOOD. I'm very lucky in so, so many ways.
I do, however, have a continuing battle with a combination of fibromyalgia and what appears to be something akin to psoriatic arthritis. They strike separately, and they strike together, sometimes far worse than at other times.
I've tried to keep both at bay for 7 years using a combination of moderate exercise, tons of water, as few processed foods as possible and, when the pain gets really bad, a mega course of advil for a couple of weeks until things get better.
Starting in January of this year, however, things didn't get better. And the usual routines weren't working. And my rheumatologist had been dangling other, stronger, things in front of my face (he tends to be very conservative on drug usage, but he also doesn't want permanent joint damage). I tried other things, too. But this isn't a post about my health, and if anyone's really interested because they're going through a similar struggle, please just e-mail me.
Okay, so the long and the short of it is that after months of other therapies and constant pain (part of the reason for my hiatus), I tried the very mildest of the dangled drugs. And this drug came along with what's known as a steroid "burst" (a short course of steroids, to sort of "jump start" the other stuff).
And I was Cinderella at the Ball.
And what this is really about is that steroids cheat.
Within 24 hours, I was close to myself again. My energy was back; my pain all but gone. I was sure that the new drug was going to be helping far earlier than my doctor had anticipated.
For 18 days, I lived a blissfully pain-free life. Then the pain started creeping back. Now, it's returned.
I'm back to my natural therapies (along with the mild drugs). I'm still on a teeny dose of steroids that I continue on for a few more days (I've "tapered down"). I'm determined to stay away from the advil, if I can, because it wreaks havoc with other things.
But this whole incident got me very, very sad for our world.
Well, I'm all for drugs to be used when they can help with diseases, be those diseases mental or physical.
But how many athletes have been involved in steroid scandals over the years? How many folks now are taking Adderall and Ritalin not because they need either one, but because they can stay up later, study harder, get better grades.
You know what, y'all? That's cheating.
If a closing-in-on-fifty, fat, high school English teacher can end up feeling like frigging Cinderella at the Ball and waltzes through more to-do lists than any human being should when on steroids, what is the 20-something, athletically-gifted batter doing? The cyclist, who can now ace the Tour de France? The football player who bulked up over the summer?
What about the kid who just got into Columbia or Harvard or Princeton and probably doesn't deserve that spot? What about the kid who didn't cheat and lost that spot that they actually did deserve?
C has been doing a project on Malcolm X this week. We've both been immersed in all things X, because I've long been fascinated with his life story and it was interesting to watch Spike Lee's "X" with C, and to have access to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the reader of pieces on and about Malcolm X, and the other research materials we've had lying around the house. Malcolm X spoke a great deal about keeping the "white man's poisons" out of one's system. A lot of this is Islam - not about your skin color, but about the fact that there are substances that should not be ingested. They make you impure.
Steroids and stimulants make you impure. They kick you up a notch. We weren't made to be kicked up that notch and it's not fair to your body or to others when you take this crap just to be "better".
Have you had any experiences where you've been Cinderella at the Ball? Know folks who've gotten themselves in trouble with steroids or stimulants? What's your take on all this?