How My Life With Chronic Illness Relates to the Brothers of 'Supernatural'
I’ve been dealing with chronic pain (which was diagnosed as fibromyalgia 10 years ago) for as long as I can remember. It used to come and go when I was a child, but it has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, while experiencing huge spikes during and after my second pregnancy and hysterectomy.
I have been off and on narcotics of varying amounts for the past 10 years. I’ve also been through the fibro clinic, tried every fibro drug out there with either no or extremely adverse effects. I’ve been through at least a half dozen round of physical therapy, each time ending with the therapist baffled and saying there’s nothing more they can do for me. I’ve had trigger point injections. I’ve been to a chiropractor. I’ve had epidural steroid injections. I’ve had a massage therapist tell me she’s never seen anything like my muscles, not even in 90-year-old. From my skull to my tailbone, the muscles are completely tightened up and muscle relaxers tend to make things worse in the long run. In addition to the muscle tightness and pain, I feel it in my bones, joints, and skin. There are days it’s too painful to wear clothing or my hair and eyelashes hurt.
I’d also like to point out that I do not have a low tolerance for pain. When receiving the trigger point injections the doctor was incredulous that I didn’t even flinch, much less scream or cry. Even when I got my foot tattooed, I didn’t react. I don’t flinch, I’m calm and able to carry a conversation throughout. In comparison, twice I’ve had to literally lie on friends legs to hold them still for foot tattoos.
About three years ago my family doctor put me on fentanyl patches with a small amount of pain medication for breakthrough pain. For the first time in a decade, I started having the occasional pain-free day. Then came the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. No more long acting medications.
Shortly after, I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG). Then, a doctor took me of narcotics all together. While I was experiencing MG symptoms before I was taken off the pain medications, there was definitely a direct correlation between the wicked fast progression of the MG the lower my prescription went. Also, my blood pressure shot up, which according to that doctor was completely unrelated.
I spent six months with completely double vision, and basically bedridden. In those months, my daily pain level was between a six and an eight most days. Some days higher. I had exactly one day in six months that my pain level dropped down to a four – which I can handle. Also a four is the point where the pain starts triggering the MG.
I finally got a new doctor who would prescribe at least some pain medication. It’s not enough. I get six pills a day. Without something long acting, I wake up with nothing in my system. Those with chronic pain know that once you get the pain level down, it’s easier to maintain – but getting it there is hard. It often takes two to three pills just to get me down to a four in the morning. This means I often run out of meds about a week early each month and have to struggle.
So, how does this relate to “Supernatural?”
First of all, there are some days the pain is so bad that all I can do is close my eyes and try desperately to disassociate from my body via meditation. However, on days that aren’t quite that bad, I’ve always had certain shows I binge watch to try to distract myself from it. “True Blood” is one for the eye candy, for instance.
My oldest daughter introduced me to “Supernatural” between seasons 11 and 12, and this show not only distracted me but comforts me. (Oh, I just wanted to point out plenty of eye candy here too.) The show is currently on its 13th season.
The first season is mainly a monster of the week show, similar to “Charmed.” (They even fight a lot of the same creatures and I’ve noticed a lot of the same actors in both shows.) It’s brothers with guns, machetes, and a seemingly never ending supply of Zippos that travel, instead of sisters with powers that have everything happen in their hometown. There’s a background plot where they’re searching for their dad who is hunting the demon that killed their mother, but mainly the monsters are the focus.
As the seasons go on, they begin to have themes – basically each season trying to avert some disaster or apocalypse for the earth. They don’t get paid, they don’t get noticed (and if they do they’re usually painted as the bad guy). It’s basically been 13 years of one long bloody fight for them, just trying to survive and make a difference. Both have been to hell and back, literally. Both have tried to lead normal lives and found they couldn’t, never for long at least. Throughout the series, at times they’ve both lost faith, wondering if they’re even making a difference. What I relate to most is that you can see that they struggle from not only physical exhaustion, but at times exhaustion on a much higher level…a metaphysical or spiritual level.
Now, of course, it’s all fiction, and I’m not fighting monsters or trying to save the planet. I’m fighting my own body. There have been so many times I’ve just wanted to give up. Yes, I’ve made (thankfully failed) attempts at ending my life. I often have insomnia. There are weeks I’m lucky to get eight hours of sleep total, but there’s also that metaphysical exhaustion than I think anyone with a chronic condition can relate to. No amount of rest or sleep will cure it.
Some days, the worst days, you do wonder if it’s even worth it to keep fighting. To most I look “normal” – so many never know about the battle I’m fighting inside, and often when I talk about my illnesses I’m told I’m just being too negative, just focusing on it too much. I’m being painted at the bad guy.
The main characters of “Supernatural” also can’t choose to just have a different life, to not be hunters. I can’t choose to not be sick and in pain. So even though it’s acting, even though it’s monsters and disasters they’re fighting, to see someone go through that – to see them get to that point of physical and spiritual exhaustion, and even if they’re not really sure it is worth it to continue on – it makes me feel a little less alone and gives me a little more courage to do the same.
So to the writers, cast, crew, producers and all involved in “Supernatural:” Thank you. I’m hoping to catch you at a convention next year when my daughter returns from Germany.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
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Photo courtesy of the Supernatural Facebook page