*Disclaimer* No birds were harmed during the writing of this blog.
This week, I passed my first (and hopefully last) kidney stone. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. The pain is excruciating. I was shaking, vomiting, writhing and moaning in agony. Sweet relief only came in the form of an IV injection of Dilaudid. The second the medicine hit my veins, I could feel it pulsing through my entire body as it told my brain to "Relax for a bit. We'll handle the pain for awhile." Despite all the negative feelings I may have for big pharma, I cannot express how grateful I am to be alive in a time where modern medicine can work so effectively to limit suffering.
After many hours in the ER that included waiting, pain, IV injections, pain, CT scans, pain, and drug-induced incoherent banter with the nurse and doctor, I was told I could go home. First stop, Walgreens where I was to pick up my Oxycodone, nausea medicine, and Flomax. Now begins the waiting game. When will it pass? How long must I keep this jagged calcium deposit inside me? When will I be able to stand up properly? When will traces of blood leave my urine? All good questions in the game...The Game of Stones.
As a kidney stone the size of Tyrion Lannister made it's way through my ureter, I remained at home mostly in bed, feeling low with pain until high from oxy, isolated from the world. On Monday night when I was in the hospital, I informed my chauffeur job that I was at the ER and wouldn't be able to make it to my shifts the next day. A couple hours later, they responded saying, "Let us know how you feel and maybe we can start you later in the day." This text would be the beginning of a thought. A thought which would be the beginning of an entire week of existential evaluation that ultimately led to me no longer (most likely) having that job.
That text hit me like that first sharp pain struck my abdomen. What seemed fairly benign at first ended up rattling me. I'm in the ER and their response is basically, "Come in after lunch!" Now, I'm an employee who is expected to work. They're an employer who needs me to be available. I get that. But I'm in the fucking ER! I'm on opioids...which aren't really the best thing to be taking while chauffeuring people around! I'm pretty sure driving a Cadillac Escalade would be considered operating heavy machinery. I don't feel any personal ill will towards anyone there, but the realization came to me in that moment that I need a change.
And I've been down this road before. My resume is full of jobs I've needed a change from. I always hit this point, where it's time to move on. In fact every job I've ever had has been accepted under the pretense that I will soon be quitting it. (Of course, I didn't inform my hiring managers of this). These have all been meaningless jobs to supplement me as I pursue my dreams. Well, I'm tired of having no meaning. And I'm tired of simply pursuing.
These past couple years or rather my entire adult existence has been centered around making "it". "It" being having a full time, financially lucrative, creatively fulfilling, and non-disappointing career in the arts. Going to NYC to become an actor, struggling in NYC to be an actor, moving back to Charlotte to save up to move to LA to pursue acting, deciding I couldn't afford that move, applying to graduate programs to be an actor or teacher for two years, not getting into the programs I wanted, starting my own theater company, not finding a theater for said company.
Those struggles are part of the process. Failure is inevitable and rejection is the most common side effect of wanting to be an artist. (Sadly no IV injections can mask the pain of rejection) However, what I've realized is that I have put my entire existence on the line on an outcome. And nothing good ever comes from focusing on results and results alone. So my dreams have become an obligation. A necessity. A must. A means of survival. An outcome. They have become the opposite of what I've always wanted them to feel like...work. Work that doesn't reciprocate a fraction of the energy I need it too. I have allowed the failed pursuit of a dream to define me and it has kept me from being happy as an artist.
I'm beginning to think this all sounds like the ramblings of a mad man. So I will try to land on an outcome (irony!). My dreams of being an actor or running a kickass improv theater don't have to die. In fact, I need to stop keeping them from becoming reality. All these meaningless jobs I've had over the years have no meaning because I found no meaning in them. They were only supplementing my mindset as a failure. They didn't provide structure. They didn't provide financial sufficiency. They didn't provide me peace of mind. They didn't provide me with the energy, money, time, and flexibility to actually pursue...no! Actualize...my dreams.
So here I am, coming to the realization that I need to find meaning in whatever it is I do next. I probably need to become an adult. (As you can see in the picture above, the hospital was pumping me with fluids from a bag titled "Adult.") I need to find a job that provides me with something I don't think I've ever had. Stability. And hopefully this job will not be terrible. Hopefully I can find something that allows me to feel challenged and creative. But at the end of the day, it'll be just a job. And that's the meaning of it. A job that provides that security so I can make my dreams fun again. A job that allows me to travel, experience the world, go out with friends, and you know...pay the bills. A job that will allow me to audition for plays that I want to do even though they don't pay. A job that will allow me to build up my improv theater into the awesome place it's supposed to be.
(I will gladly be accepting help from my network of friends to get me this job! K thanks!!)
On Wednesday afternoon, I passed my kidney stone...with flying colors I might add. (By flying colors, I of course mean red and yellow pee). Passing the stone was quite painless actually. This outcome was kind of disappointing in that I had put so much pressure on that moment. Passing a solid through the tiny confines of my urethra would obviously be the crux of my kidney stone experience. Alas, no. Out it came. Feeling like a regular old pee for the most part. I went through all I went through for that non-event? Perhaps I'm looking at it all wrong.
Rather, from the moment that little jagged guy formed in my kidney all the way up until that second it popped out, where I experienced the shakes and shivers, the ungodly pain, the vomiting, the fear of what was to come, the highs of pain medicine, the lows of the medicine wearing off, the silly jokes I made with the nurse, the funny way I walked, the oxycodone naps, the outpouring of support from friends, family, and loved ones...that is where the story lives.