As a general rule, I’ve never been someone who gets depressed. I’ve grieved. I’ve been sad. But depression is something I’ve been lucky enough to avoid. But now I feel myself teetering on the edge of it because of some recent developments on the health front. But I’ve always been one so overshare and my readers have been such a huge support system for me, let me give you the full story.
As I’m sure you all know by now, I’ve been hospitalized several times over the last few months, five times in all, for multiple days at a time. This has been the result of my hemoglobin repeatedly crashing. We found one cause of it fairly early on, a stomach ulcer, but I was increasingly convinced there was at least one other cause as well. After three endoscopies and a colonoscopy, last week I took a capsule endoscopy, where you swallow a camera that transmits pictures so the doctors can see into the lower intestines, where the up and down scopes can’t reach. And sure enough, the test showed that I have bleeding in my lower intestine.
On the one hand, I’m glad they found it because uncertainty may be the worst of all. On the other hand, I fear what this will mean in terms of prognosis and treatment. I have an appointment with the GI doctor on Wednesday to discuss it and my real fear is that this will require some sort of surgical resection. That’s a major surgery that would alter my life forever. I don’t have a lot of information right now, but during our discussions last time I was hospitalized the GI doc did mention a resection as a possibility. And his nurse told me the other day that this is a result of my liver disease (my autoimmune sarcoidosis has pretty much killed my liver).
And that’s the other long-term problem, or maybe not so long-term. I may need a liver transplant at some point. They can do that with a donor rather than having to wait for a rationed liver from someone who died (I’d never get one that way anyway because I have too many other health problems). So I may be forced to find a donor at some point, possibly sooner rather than later, to give me part of their liver (livers regenerate if there’s enough healthy tissue for them to do so). All of this has left me pretty terrified about what the future holds for me.
All of this, and the difficult environment for internet advertising, also has me very worried about my financial situation. I have a secondary business, but the horrible anemia I’ve suffered from for the last few months has made it impossible for me to do much to keep it going. I’ve already lost about 25% of my income from the blog due to cuts in revenue payouts and, frankly, blogging is about the only thing I can still do with my current health (thankfully, typing requires little effort and I’m still mentally sharp — or I think I am). I was hoping to pick up a freelance editing job part-time to supplement that, but the anemia just hasn’t gotten any better and it has prevented me from doing so. And as the new year begins, the deductible and maximum out-of-pocket costs on my health insurance resets and the first few weeks will require me to pay up front for a lot of co-pays, tests and the like.So all in all, things pretty much suck right now and, for the first time in all of this, I’m starting to feel kind of hopeless. I know it’s not hopeless. There are still best-case scenarios and even medium-case ones, but I’m having a hard time finding much optimism about the whole thing. Feeling like crap all the time certainly doesn’t help me maintain a positive outlook. So I am once again turning to the community that has built up around this blog for the past 15 years (November was the 15th anniversary of the founding of this blog).
So how can you help support me during this time? I thought about setting up a separate Patreon just for the blog, but I can’t seem to figure out how to do that. Nor can you have a Patreon that offers both per-episode pledges (for my podcast) and monthly pledges. But then someone suggested how to have it both ways and it comes with a bonus for those who contribute as well. You can join as a Patron of the podcast and pledge $2, $5 or $10 per episode, but then set a monthly limit on it so that you only pay out what you want to pay out each month. So if you’d like to offer $5 a month or $10 a month to support the blog, you can do that on the podcast Patreon and set that as your limit. And as a bonus, you’ll get early access to all the podcast episodes (they post three days before they are publicly available) automatically if you do so. This will help me to continue to make a living from the only thing I can realistically do right now, which is writing, and help me with medical expenses as well.
The other possibility is to donate directly, if you are so inclined. You can do that on Paypal, where my email address for the account is firstname.lastname@example.org. I know it’s Christmas time and money is tight, so I totally understand that most people probably won’t be able to help. I certainly wish that I was in a position to help others more than I am right now, so I really do get that. But if you can afford it — and whatever you can afford — I would greatly appreciate some help in this regard. Again, this will help me sustain my writing, which, if you’re reading this, I hope you get something out of and appreciate yourself.
I will also gratefully accept kind words, virtual hugs and good wishes, in whatever form they may take. I’m trying to maintain my optimism, fighting against myself to do so. And the caring and support of so many people who have helped form this amazing community is a big part of that. My hope is to be able to keep doing this for many, many years. It’s what I love doing. I promise to keep you all posted on the medical developments going forward as best I can. I’d like to think that, even if my time remaining is fairly short, I have had a well-lived life, but who are we to evaluate that, really? Only others can do that, I think.
So thank you for any help you can give and thank you for allowing me to do this as long as I have. Another 15 years would feel like an enormous victory for me at this point. But there’s so much else I still want to do as well. I have all these plans to be able to help others, but I can’t do any of it without my health stabilizing. Not being able to follow through on those plans may be the saddest thing of all for me. But I’m not ready to give up quite yet.