I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want and what’s important to me. A few weeks ago, I had a health scare, one of many, and it happened that on a Friday I took a walk in the morning, felt really lethargic and nauseated, and thought I was having some type of food poisoning or stomach virus. Normal, basic stuff, right?
I spent most of that day in bed. I would feel fine while lying down, and then I’d get up, and the nausea and shortness of breath would come back. But I just figured, well, whatever. I’m sick. It happens. Sleep it off, no big whoop.
Saturday morning comes around. I wake up and go to the bathroom. The next thing I know, I’m having some tunnel vision sort of experience of trying to pull myself upright using the side of the bathtub, and then my brother’s bristly whiskers are on my mouth, as I’m regaining consciousness.
My pants were still down. I had a confused thought about Elvis dying on the toilet.
So, the ambulance comes. It takes me to the hospital. Along the way, the EMT is really respectful of me and my transness, and it’s just a good experience, if an ambulance ride can be said to be good. She starts a line on me with an 18 gauge needle in my left elbow. I barely feel it.
Well, they wheel me into the ER on a gurney after giving me IV fluids, and they do some testing and whatever else they do. I suddenly craved Gatorade, so my nurse brought me a can, and they gave me IV antibiotics, and the doctor comes in and tells me I was “markedly dehydrated” and that, oh yeah, I have a UTI. And he acts like that’s the entire explanation.
I would later figure out I had an ulcer and had lost significant blood volume, leading to hypovolemia and, ahem, syncope. But that’s not really the point.
The point is that I laid on that gurney, and then the hospital bed, in a T-shirt and boxers and covered with three or four warm blankets, and I thought… this is bad. And I had the next few days to think further about it.
I didn’t think I was on my way to dying, but I was pretty well aware that I could have died. I didn’t have a pulse before my brother gave me mouth to mouth. So, I lay in bed for the next few days, and I thought, I have to do something.
I still don’t know what that is. And it’s still not at all easy for me to make the right choices for my health and so forth, but I can say that I haven’t counted calories or weighed myself since the incident. When you have a moment like this, sometimes it makes you start to really think about what matters to you.
So I did quite a bit of thinking, and there were several questions I tried to address. Mostly, I failed to find definitive answers, because the questions were things like, “what’s my passion?” It’s a question that sounds nice, but it isn’t one that’s very conducive to being answered, is it? It’s vague. So is the question, “who am I?” but that one actually led me places. What you say when you answer that question can generate some insight into how you see yourself and what is important to you.
I’m a vegan, I’m trans, I’ve got bipolar disorder, and it is really hard or impossible for me to do a lot of things, so I consider myself disabled. And something that I want to do is to feel useful, to feel like I’m helping other people and making the world better in some way or other.
This naturally leads to the question, so, what does it mean to make the world better? What does it mean to help people? Or, how do I want to do those things? How am I best able to do those things? And so what I’m trying to do right now is connect these questions with the answers to the question of who I am.
So, I know that there are things that are important to me. And I know that there are things with which I already have experience, having lived with and through them for some amount of time or other. At this point, I’m trying my best to connect those and find a way to do something meaningful with them.
I’m on to something. At the risk of overstating it, I’ve got some ideas that I’m actually pretty excited about exploring.