A post by a fellow blogger on her site “Losing It” motivated me to post this essay I wrote for my creative nonfiction writing class. Enjoy!
It seems like years ago that I anxiously investigated how to go about shooting myself.
The information was all right there in front of me. Books. Brochures. Videos. Each included a map of the human body that highlighted the areas where it would be most effective to do the shooting.
Empty silhouettes of the body that had betrayed each of us with MS now forced to sit there reading said books and brochures and watching the aforementioned videos that were saturated with forced optimism to put us at ease.
It will be easy to do, they all said. Here: Take a nice plump orange and practice the proper procedure. An apple would do but an orange better simulates the density of human flesh. Soft, human flesh. Packaged neatly in a fragrant ball stamped “Sunkist.”
After several botched attempts, I think I finally got the hang of it. I discover that the key to the proper technique of shooting myself: “It’s all in the wrist.”
Just like others had told me to do, I have the bottle of ibuprofen on the table next to my supplies. It’ll help with the pain. But take it at least 30 minutes before. It’s pointless to plan on taking it after I shoot myself. It won’t do much good.
Shut up and do it already, Dan.
Now a decade later, I’ll take two ibuprofen and break open the supplies Jennifer has lovingly has set out for me. Interesting how I’ll take two generic ibuprofen to alleviate the pain of a medicine that is produced and manufactured by the folks at Beyer.
Everything is neatly enclosed in a self-contained plastic package, plastic with the exception of the paper backing that I easily tear off to unleash the contents.
I first grab the vial that contains the white powder that looks like what Hollywood says is cocaine. This white powder is what they say is the medicine that will help to slow the progression of my multiple sclerosis. Pop off the cap and strategically position it in the mixing spot reserved for it in the self-contained plastic package that by some stroke of engineering genius serves as both a container and medicine mixing station. An alcohol swab is placed on top briefly to fight off contamination.
I push the vial adapter, complete with a subcutaneous needle, onto my medicine mix, twist the stopper off the prefilled saline syringe that then is twisted onto the vial adapter. Again. A stroke of engineering genius.
Positioning the newly assembled engineered apparatus at a 45-degree angle, I slowly push the syringe to release the saline into the medicine vial. The angle is key because, much like a bartender carefully pours a beer into a glass from the side to limit the size of the head, or “Footch” as my dad calls it, the liquid needs to flow into the vial the same way as to avoid making bubbles.
I mix the medicine in a slow swirling, not shaking, motion. Again. The bubbles.
Guided by the same measures that determine when gelatin is completely dissolved, I determine all is ready.
Tonight I’ll shoot one of three specified regions on my left leg. I hate shooting my belly, I just did my arm last night, and I’ll save my hip for another time. A second alcohol swab sanitizes my skin, and BAM! I give myself a shot.
But there’s no bartender. No gun. Just me, my medicine, and my MS. And a life that is so worth living because of it.