Existing in Pain – Daily Rant 2 Days Late

July 15, 2011

Note: I wrote this on Friday but haven’t had the chance to post it. I’ll give you an update at the end.

Woke up way too early. Trouble breathing. Asthma? Then the stomach turned and I had to go. To the bathroom. Funny. I have no bath but I call it the bathroom. I went. Felt a little better.

Face hurt. A little at first. It always starts with a little. It got worse.

Trouble breathing. I was smoking. Maybe I smoke too much. Then the racing thoughts and the heart followed. I made coffee. Good for asthma. I heard. I heard a lot of things so I drank coffee and a lot of water with my 4 morning meds. The stomach and heart beating anxiety kicked in as I tried to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I had to be somewhere to help a friend with a ride this morning. The meds were kicking in. I started to feel a little better as I got dressed and mapped the address of my friend. The breathing was like hyper ventilating. It came and went. It went when the pills kicked in. Pills. Have to take ‘em if I don’t want pain or anxiety. I did.

I got a text just as I was psyching myself up for a long ride. It was my friend’s boyfriend canceling the ride I was to give. The long trip. Over. Now I can stay home and try and relax. Or feel pain and anxiety.

It goes away eventually. Drugs kick in. Feel better. Wear off. Feel worse.

Need a nap. No nap. I guess the stress is up there. Anxiety.

Watched a couple of movies. Did a few tings on the internet. Hurt. Can’t breathe.

All over the place. God. Bad. Breathe freely. Breathe naturally. Breathe short and slow. Loss of breath. Chest pain. Face pain. It’s all running together.

I look up the symptoms and talk to friends that have similar conditions. They confirm that it’s just a panic attack. Combined with my face pain. It hurts.

Don’t want to complain. Complain. Complaints. Revealing my pain to you and everyone else is  . . .  like getting a mew therapist.

Just repeating my day out loud. No answers. Just venting.

Conclusions come after solutions after diagnosis. Am I sure it’s not just  another panic attack in a way I haven’t experienced.

Experienced. Weird pain. Something different.

Do I need a hospital or not?  Go to bed and sleep. Get up early tomorrow to do some work for my uncle.

Good. I’m falling asleep as I write this.

Note: Aftermath- I was hoping that a good night sleep would be the cure. It wasn’t. I woke up at 6:30 am with the deep breaths and panic for no reason. I was tired but that was normal. I drank less coffee and took my morning meds, More face pain. I took pain pills. Everything kicked in by the time I got to help my Uncle at cleaning offices. I was just tired from all of the pain and anxiety the day before. I made it through the work hours. Then I had to go home shower etc and pick up a model for a photography project. It was an all day event but now and then I felt the anxiety and shortness of breath but had to keep going and took anxiety meds. I got through the day and went to sleep early. Woke up today feeling a little bit of the breath thing and anxiety and it slowly went away and I helped my Uncle again and now I just feel emotionally hungover. Tired blah. I made it.

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A POEM: Solutions & Survival

July 4, 2011

Back to the up all night and no sleep routine. It’s an old act I developed in high school or was it college? Not a stand-up comedy routine. Could be at this point because if I don’t laugh I’ll cry.

 

Cry. Soft whimpering cries. Loud screaming cries.

 

No dies. Not yet.

 

Tired wired eyes. I doze off then wake up. I wake up I doze off.

 

I tried to eat my worries last night and I couldn’t keep them down.

 

I’m hungry then I can’t eat. Can’t sleep. What can I do?

 

My body rejects my denial and forces me to think. Think. Think

 

I slept earlier yesterday after a panic attack. Anxiety attack. Anxiety went into cruise control and got into an accident with my insides and outsides. I was inside. Inside.

 

I slept yesterday. It was a dream. Not the sleep. It was dream to sleep. The day before I slept. Slept early. Awoke early.

 

Productive. Creative. Happy. Happy.

 

Today and last night and some other nights the pains in my face drove me to a painkiller. Kill the pain. Kill pain.

 

Kills pain. I can’t sleep. Can’t sleep. I dream of sleep. Dream sleep.

 

Remember the night owl I once was? I wanted to be? Proud to be?

No worries.

 

Worries. Problems. Dilemmas. Solutions.

Solutions.  Think. Think man, think. A Solution. Solutions.

 

Solution? Not there yet. Not sure I’m anywhere yet. Had one or two or three or more. Solutions. Each solution is kicked out of the way by a bigger worry. Bigger problem. Bigger dilemma.

 

I cry. I laugh. I get outraged. I am sensitive. Sensitive artist. Bah.. Starving artist. Bah..

 

I go away for a minute. Two maybe three. Minutes. I am surrounded by love and sex and fantasies I make up as they float through my dreams.

 

I get home to an empty fridge and a coffee table cluttered with reminders of my worries. I scramble for solutions. I do what I can to solve the worries, problems and dilemmas.

 

Productive. Creative. Happy?

 

Not sure. Doubt. Hope. In between.

 

Go forward. Move ahead. Back to the taxi. Whip it.

 

Maybe I will. Whip it. Whip it good.

 

I win even If I lose.

I survive. Survive.

 


Epiphany Shmiphany

June 20, 2011

 

I’ve been waiting to sit down and write about an “epiphany” I had a little over a week ago. Epiphany. For such a soft word that is almost pretty as it rolls through my mouth it is a powerful word. I’ve had these changes in attitude and  realizations ( a harsher sounding word that’s way less powerful). I was basically going to tell you about the “epiphany” that I have told you about and have experiences over and over. I guess I should mention it briefly then move on, huh?

 

I was watching a documentary about Hubert Selby Jr, author of classic novels like Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream that were made into fantastic movies, about a week and a half ago. Learning about the struggles of the life of an artist is just rehashing what I already knew. An artist is born that way. Born to struggle through life so he can create art. That is his purpose and contribution to life. In a world of money oriented and materialistic people, we the artists, are giving instead of taking. As soon as we share our creations with at least one other person our art is art.

 

Ok, I’m not going to go on on and on about my purpose in life and your role in it. Basically I was just reminded of what I need to remember and keep forgetting. The struggle is the burden and consistency and I have to comment, react and create from it then give t away.

 

“I am an American artist I have no shame.” Patti Smith

 

The past few weeks have been terrifying, incredible, amusing, and on and off weird.

 

I’ll start with right now. At this moment I am sitting inside a coffee shop in Collingswood, NJ. I just finished talking to a friend I’ve hung out with only a few times but when we see each other there is this bond we have and we end up in deep conversations about art, music, addiction and sometimes the meaning of life itself. Ha. He’s in a similar situation as me and we always get along.

 

I went to the welfare office at 7 am this morning and spent over 2 hours trying to get some kind of assistance. I followed it up with a visit to unemployment to waste another hour or 2. It wasn’t a complete waste. My unemployment is back on. I just had to fight for the weeks they held back. This is fantastic news after waiting almost a month without the money and bills are adding up.

 

When you’re broke. Really broke. You start thinking about every coffee, donut, dinner out, pizza delivered, soda, etc and you over analyze what you wasted money in the past while still spending the same money on the same things. Oh yeah, the air conditioning is killing my roommate and me. Both he and my landlord suggested I turn it off and leave the house each day and hang at a coffee shop or somewhere with internet connections. These days that’s pretty much every coffee shop and eve restaurants and bars.

 

I went home after the unemployment office. It was about noon. 5 hours spent on trying to get help and it was semi successful. I still had the entire day ahead of me. I still do. I rubbed one off watching Judge Pierno or whatever her name is to relax. Not long after I got a phone call from the lady I spoke with at the unemployment office to tell me that all of the past money owed to me will come through. I was more floored by the fact that the woman called me back as soon as she found out than I was about the money. That was just really nice. I was ready to get out again and head to the pharmacy and then relax at the coffee shop. I am relaxed despite the caffeine.

 

I just ran into a girl I knew from a group I used to attend. Young, beautiful and great body and she is a fellow writer. A talented writer. I had such a crush on her a while back. I had so many fantasies about her in the past few years. I haven’t seen her since this past winter when I fist grew my beard and hair long and she called me a Wooly Mammoth and I was embarrassed and I was already anxious borderline agoraphobic. Weird. It was just a cute little name-calling and borderline flirtation that helped speed up my already progressing reclusiveness.

 

Irony. Now that I am leaving the house I run into the girl that I not only had a crush on but made me not want to go out anymore. I have to admit when I first laid eyes on her I got a little anxious and I pretended not to see her. I wanted to hide and jump up and call her name. I didn’t. I went back to writing what you just read. What I just wrote. I felt comfortable when she approached me on her way out. She was actually working, looking for a story to cover for one of the publications she writes for.

 

We talked a little bit about writing and how good it was to see each other then she left and here I am. This is the message of my writing today. Random events that mean nothing and mean everything to me.

 

When I got here I randomly started talking to a guy I never met before about misery versus happiness. I happen to be learning and relearning that life is a struggle and it’s what you put into it. This is before I met the others here today.

 

Last week I went to Philly to sell my cds to a shop where I’ve known the owner for a while. We had a great talk and he gave me a great price and I left a happy man. I wandered to a coffee shop I’d never been to greeted by 3  barista angels that worked the registers and coffee machines. People talked to me and greeted me like I was someone. I grabbed my drink and tipped then sat right outside so I could smoke. Huh… I haven’t had a cigarette yet since I entered the coffee shop. Usually I jump right out side and smoke. If I did that I wouldn’t have run into my friends. Shit. Now I want a cigarette. . .  .

 

*Dramatic pause for Rich Hillen Jr’s cigarette break*

 

Great smoke break. I’m texting my friend maybe girlfriend that lives in New Orleans all about my day. She’s another story. We’ve been talking about moving in for a while but we can’t afford it yet. A long drive and she has a pooch.

 

Just 3 weeks ago (maybe 2 and a half weeks) I was so desperate and stressed about my financial condition and it’s slowly pulling itself together.

 

Once I had my “epiphany”, I felt better over all and knew things will work out if I make the effort and try not to feel or come off desperate. I was ready.

 

My roommate told me about a music shop in Collingswood that would probably give me a good deal on my amp I’ve wanted to sell. I headed out one night to sell the amp and I ran out of gas within 4 blocks from the store. I laughed. My gas gage isn’t always working right and it says that there is less gas than is in there. I was on empty and was planning to get gas after I sold the amp.

 

This teenager appeared out of nowhere and started pushing my car. We couldn’t budge it for some reason. I was a foot from the corner street wedged on the curb. I called my close friend that lived in Collingswood and he was on the road going to a show and couldn’t help. I was pretty far from a gas station. I racked my brain finding someone in the area that could and would help me out.

 

I called my filmmaker friend who I’ve worked with on a few projects and he came through for me. I was still in a decent mood. I was also lucky enough to have had a gas container. So my friend picked me up, took me to the gas station and back to my car. It worked out because he wanted to talk to me about his upcoming projects. Just as we pulled up near my abandoned giant red beat-up 1994 Lincoln Towncar there was a Mini-Cooper in front of it and my cell phone rang with an unrecognized number. I just said to my friend that it looks like my mom’s friend’s car and it was my mom on his cell phone. I laughed again. My mom and her friend were parked there checking to see if I was ok. I was. They left. It was starting to get windy and a storm was on the way. I gassed the car up, thanked my friend and drove off to get gas.

 

I debated going to the music shop because of the gas problem and the storm brewing. I went anyway. It was a great decision. There were 2 women sitting in there with a guy that worked there. I jumped right to business and didn’t even check out the ladies. I wanted money. I knew exactly how much I wanted for it and the guy looked at and tested it. He left to get the owner to look at it and appraise it. While he was gone I looked at one of the now noticeably pretty women and she said “Hi Rich.” I knew those eyes of hers. It’s been over 20 years but you don’t forget her eyes. I said hi and I was a little uncomfortable yet happy. Memories rushed through my head of all of the nights I hung out with her, her friend and my weirdo friend. Many drinks and many other things. I tripped on acid with this girl at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She was at my college graduation party. One night we got really stoned and went back to her place to look at her art (she was an incredible artist). We had a most memorable passionate night that we agreed not to tell anyone about. I wonder if it made it special because it was a one-time deal. It doesn’t matter. Here she was face to face 20 years later and looked the same.

 

I knew she lived in the area for years and heard about her musician boyfriend/fiancé through a friend of mine. I did run into her once 10-12 years ago and it was a brief conversation because we both had somewhere to go. So you can probably guess who owned the music shop I was standing in hoping to make a buck from. It was the infamous boyfriend/fiancé or whatever. Then I talked to him about the people we had in common. We talked after he paid me righteously for the amp of course. I left feeling good.

 

Then came the storm as I was leaving. A physical storm followed that Sunday afternoon after “helping” out my uncle who is really my great aunt’s live in boyfriend clean offices. I pulled muscles in my arms and shoulders. This triggered my infamous Trigeminal Disorder. The pain was at its’ worst since I was first diagnosed with it in 2005. I was running out of pain meds and I couldn’t refill them for a week. I took migraine aspirin and sleep aids. I spent most of the next 3 days away to escape the explosions in my face. I was in extreme pain for 3 days then the recovery took a day or 2. I was finally back in the world and that’s when I sold my cds and hung out in Philly.

 

This past Saturday I did my usual “helping” out my uncle whose not my uncle. Afterward, I met up with my adopted mother, the one that raised me, to have lunch in honor of my adopted father whose 2nd year death anniversary that also fell on Father’s Day. We were supposed to meet up the next day but she changed her mind and we had a great dinner and conversation.

 

On my way out I ran into another friend I’ve known for years sitting on a bench and I voluntarily joined him. This is a big step for me to be social and I hung out with him for an hour in the hot sun drinking an iced coffee from Starbucks. I was in a good mood. I headed home and watched some movies and did a little writing.

 

Sunday was Father’s day and my adopted father’s death anniversary. It was an awkward day. Having 2 dads can be difficult. My focus was on the dead one who raised me and not my biological father who came back in my life as an adult and has been there for my for over 20 years now. I called him and text him. We decided we will celebrate when I can afford it. It ended nicely.

 

Shit. This was a random bit of writing that went on forever. If you’re still reading, God bless you and thank you for sharing my life as it’s still spinning in and out of Epiphanies, pain, poverty, good memories and hopes of tomorrow, meanwhile, living in the moment no mater how good or bad it gets.

 

Ride on.

 

Right on.

 

Write on.

 

 


Echoes of Pain: A Poem

June 15, 2011

Echoes of pain.

 

The sweet sensation.

 

Ohh . . .

 

The comforting echoes of pain.

 

The aftermath of a storm in my face.

 

A tornado disconnecting the wiring in my face.

 

Waves of electricity stabbing me.

 

Agony. Welcome home extreme agony.

 

Just before it goes away.

 

Just before the pain goes away there’s a feeling.

 

A feeling that echoes through my face.

 

Telling me it’s going to pass.

 

The sweet sensation.

 

Ohhh.

 

Echoes of pain.


I Lost a Day

February 3, 2011

I lost a day. An entire day went by and I missed it. I slept 24 hour straight. I don’t remember the last time I did this if ever. It makes sense because the past few weeks I’ve been having days and nights of no sleep at all. My body is changing and changing. My mind is sharp at times and then dull as a board as they say. Whoever they are. I went to bed Tuesday night. Actually it was Wednesday morning at 4:30 am, which used to be the average time to go to bed. I woke up 3 time between then and 4:30 am today, Thursday. Each time I woke up I couldn’t stay awake. I feel ok now. I am not going to fret over missing a day of life but I acknowledge that it happened.

I’m adjusting to life in my new mental and physical condition. Sometimes I am able to fight it and other times I have to surrender to it. I never know when the depression, mania, anxiety or my face pain from the Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is going to act up. It seems I’ve been suffering from one or another every single day for months. Some of my conditions worsen with age and I am getting older. Nothing I have has a cure. All I can do is band-aid it and try to move on. I move on.

There are some things I should be doing and hopefully I’ll get to them. I know should quit smoking, cut my caffeine, exercise and eat better. I need to see the doctor more often. In time I’m sure these things are going to happen for health or financial reasons.

I’m over the fact that I missed a day but it kind of blew my mind at first. The concept of losing a day is baffling. I’m a short term Rip Van Winkle. My beard and hair is growing and I am a little unbalanced about what day it is sometimes. I’ll get over it or used to it. Maybe it will go away.

I have to wake up, whatever time that is, and accept what I am for the day whether that is. What I mean is accept the downs and the ups and the pain or whatever the above-mentioned disorders I have for the day. So far I’m doing an ok job accepting myself as is and changing what I can for the day. For today.


Trigeminal Neuralgia Again

January 14, 2011

“Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), tic douloureux (also known as prosopalgia, the Suicide Disease or Fothergill’s disease) is a neuropathic disorder characterized by episodes of intense pain in the face, originating from the trigeminal nerve. One, two, or all three branches of the nerve may be affected. It is, “one of the most painful conditions known to humans, yet remains an enigma to many health professionals.”

 

This pain may be felt in the ear, eye, lips, nose, scalp, forehead, cheeks, teeth, and/or jaw and side of the face; some patients also experience pain in their left index finger. Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is not easily controlled and there is no cure. It is estimated that 1 in 15,000 people suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, although the actual figure may be significantly higher due to frequent misdiagnosis. In a majority of cases, TN symptoms begin appearing after the age of 50, although there have been cases with patients being as young as three years of age. It is more common in females than males.”  Wikipedia

 

No. This isn’t a journalistic article about Trigeminal Neuralgia (TM). Not that I’m a journalist either. I just wanted to present you with a decent definition and understanding of yet another condition of which I suffer.

 

Those of you that don’t know me or know me well enough I have suffered TM on and off for almost 10 years. I was officially diagnosed 4 years ago. I used to do telemarketing for a living. Not only did I do the world’s most hated job I loved it and was the best. Then the TM hit me in the ear first. I thought it was massive earaches or an ear infection and of course never went to a doctor to confirm it. I eventually quit telemarketing as a result. I thought it was burn out So the pain went away for years.

 

It started to come back in 2005. Every day it got a little worse. The pain was the worst pain known to Rich. The shooting pain through the side of my face was excruciating. I kept popping any pain reliever I could find. I found this powdered aspirin that you put under your tongue and kept eating it. Nothing was taking the pain away. I couldn’t stand still. One night I went out side for a walk in my pajamas to try and walk it off. The police stopped me because I looked like a crazy man in his pajamas pacing the streets.

 

I couldn’t take it anymore and drove off to the emergency room. They took me in pretty fast but it was 4 or 5 am. The Doctor diagnosed me with TM that morning and gave me a prescription for Percocet and told me to see my family doctor. I sped off to the nearest all night pharmacy and waited. I grabbed the prescription and practically ate the pills. They finally kicked in around 6 am. My girlfriend got up at 7 and I told her. She feared for me taking the pain pills and this was the first of many fights about it. I was over 14 years soer at the time I took the pills as directed.

 

My family Doctor prescribed an anti-seizure medication and more pain killers. I took them as directed and spent the next couple of years taking both as directed. The TM came and went then came and went again. It’s unpredictable. Some people suffer every day and sometimes a person can go 10 -20 years or the rest of their lives without pain. Not me.

 

This went on and off until finally the line was unclear as to whether I had relapsed or not in 2008. I was also on meds for my other conditions and I was a walking zombie for a bit. My thinking was screwed up and I made the relapse official in 2008 by drinking. I lost my 16 years sober and came right back. I withdrew from the meds and haven’t had any TM pain to the extreme since October 2008. That is until today.

 

I was hoping that it would never come back. I ran out of my anti-seizure medication the other day and forgot to refill it. I started feeling it this afternoon and I was freaking. When I grabbed the pill bottle I noticed that I had no refills left. So I called my Doctor and asked the nurse to have him call in prescription. She said he would. The pain started getting worse and I was debating calling him back to get pain pills. I was afraid I might end up going to the hospital if I didn’t. I can’t afford that.  I called a bunch of my recovering friends for advice on it and no one was around. I finally got some one to answer and I explained my situation. He said I should get them from the Doctor and take them as prescribed. I went to call for the pain pills and the office was closed. I called the pharmacy to see if my prescription was ready. The doctor never called it in. The pain kept coming and going all afternoon and night. I took. Alieve then went to the drug store and got Excedrin migraine. It kept coming back.

 

I found a pill I had that is for migraines I got as a sample last year when I was having recurring headaches. I took over the counter back pain pills. I’m so loaded up on over the counter medications I’m dizzy and the pain comes and it goes. Just when I get distracted it comes back. I can’t think about anything but the pain then my anxiety flairs up and it makes it worse. Staying completely still seems to work for a bit.

 

Hopefully, I can wait until tomorrow and call the Doctor. I want to avoid the hospital.

 

The irony of it all is that I am supposed to start a new job this coming Tuesday and it’s phone collections. I can use the other ear but it still could be triggered. I’m going to work anyway you look at it. I’m going to deal with the pain one minute at a time. I know people that have I much worse than I do with TM and I admire their perseverance. They fight and try to live life one day and one moment at a time.


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