Post-Hospital I was writing to a good friend of mine who I haven't seen in years, updating him on my situation. It's hard to write people you haven't seen in years, but still care about, to tell them that you almost died from an illness and had generally a miserable half a year fighting it off. It's hard to get the right tone for your own messages, and it's hard to know how much of your pain and weight you should put onto them. Do you write in a way that they will feel pity for you? Or in a way that will show your quiet reserves of strength? Or in a way that will make them want to drop everything and come out and rescue you? Or something else? I really don't know, and I've been dealing with this a lot recently.
Anyway, for this email to this friend, I wound up getting a little maudlin and despairing. And so I wrote:
The shitty thing about illness, which I suppose is not really a deep thought but at least it's one I never had before, is that once you beat back illness, you don't win anything. There's no prize for a particularly well-fought battle against illness. Except, of course, you get your life back, if you work for it. Which is great, but still kind of a consolation prize, since you had that before you started it. There's no medal, no trophy, you don't even get a t-shirt. I got Staph Infective Endocarditis and all I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt Which Covers My Open Heart Surgery Scar. I don't know. I spent the last six months with this shit, fighting against it--it feels like I should get something in return other than the ability to go back to my normal life and try to gain back the 60 pounds I lost over the course of the months.
I got a package in the mail today. My friend is awesome: