Getting mentally prepared

Inigo Montoya: Who are you?
Wesley: No one of consequence.
Inigo Montoya: I must know.
Wesley: Get used to disappointment.
—The Princess Bride

Tomorrow I go to see a rheumatologist about my joint pain problems. In the 25+ years that I’ve been dealing with this pain, I’ve started dozens of different treatments, always with high hopes. I keep telling myself not to get my hopes up, but inevitably I do, and when the treatment fails to help, I go into long periods (sometimes months long) of depression.

I’ve been trying, really trying, not to get too excited about this appointment, but a few times I’ve caught myself thinking about what I’ll do when (not if, when) I can resume orienteering or cross country skiing or mountain biking. Damn my mind – why won’t it do what I tell it to do?

I know full well what will happen – they’ll either half listen to the litany of pain starting when I was 14 years old, slot it into one of their convenient categories and say “Oh, that’s just patella femoral syndrome/chondromalacia/compartment syndrome/rheumatoid arthritis/blah” and prescribe a treatment that I’ve tried three times already and which has made it worse every time, or they’ll get all enthusiastic about trying some new stuff, but after a few months of throwing everything at the book at it they’ll say “sorry, we’re stumped”. It’s happened at least a dozen times before, and it crushes me every time. It’s gotten to the point where it takes me months to work up the courage to even try a new doctor or a new treatment because I know how depressing it will be when it inevitably fails.

I’m sure Vicki will now post a comment saying that I’m not going to get anything out of the treatment if I go in with a negative attitude. But I’ve gone into treatment with a positive attitude, and it only makes it more painful when it does fail. And I’m desparately trying to quell the enthusiasm that seems to be welling up inside me in spite of myself.

It was a lot easier when I didn’t have a wife and children – I could tell myself “if it gets too bad, I’ll kill myself”. Well, that’s no longer an option. Even when it was an option, it always seemed that every level of pain was “I can stand this, but no worse” – and then it would get worse, and I’d say “well, I guess I can stand this, but no worse”. So I guess I can endure.

In other “get used to disappointment” news, Vicki and I had started looking at homes. The intention was just to get to know the neighbourhoods and price ranges and the like, so that after she gets her mother’s house sold and we get our house tidied up and maybe do some remedial work on it and it’s ready to sell, we will know where to look. But we made the mistake of looking at this house, and while we haven’t been inside yet, what we’ve seen from tromping around the grounds and peering in the windows, it looks perfect. It’s an old house, but it’s had a couple of additions, a breakfast nook and a glassed in patio, both looking out on a deep ravine, big mature trees, bird feeders and deer footprints. It’s also in what looks like a real neighbourhood – the kind where you know your neighbours and do stuff together.

The “get used to disappointment” part comes from the fact that although it’s been on the market for a year, they suddenly have two contingent offers on it. Trying to beat those two offers with a firm offer and arrange a down payment and mortgage and all that in this time frame, while Vicki’s still tidying up her mom’s estate and our house isn’t anywhere near ready to list and Laura’s heading off to college and Vicki has surgery scheduled in a few weeks and all that stuff – it just doesn’t look possible.