Calculated Risks

There are so so so many conversations I have with my mother and now also with my home health aide husband, that end with the question, “is that a good idea?” The answer to which is 98% of the time is probably not, but I’m also probably going to do it anyway. Bringing us to the topic of calculated risks.

If I lived my life the absolute lowest risk, most health focused way possible, avoiding every know trigger (which is kind of futile with MCAS), sticking to my optimal diet, creating every possible opportunity for rest or therapies, I wouldn’t have much left that makes me, well…me. It’s a give and take. Some things have to give because of budgets, jobs, relationships, and not feeling like you are your illness(s). When I’ve been at my lowest lows I’ve had to live that way and frankly it sucks ass.

Accommodating all that real life shit like a job, a second job and generally being in my late twenties requires a regular amount of calculated risk. For example: I refuse to give up caffeine. I love coffee, I’m a teacher for fucks sake, and yeah so what it’s not great for my brain health, I’m drinking it anyway. Or the fact I work part time at a dive bar in addition to my days of teaching DCs germ infested youth, is it the best environment for a person with MCAS? In the words of Michael Scott: H-E-L-L, double hockey sticks NO! And yet I need the cash, I love the people and you guessed it I’m doing it anyway. Walking out of a double shift with $400 in cash to buy your doctor recommended THC is worth it.

These are just some little examples of normal everyday calculated risk, things I dunno an actuarial may consider, but what I really want to talk about are those high risk high reward situations. The things that I know are without a doubt a terrible idea, that if I tell Dr. Lang about he is going to shake his head in dismay. He’s still hung up on my choice to have a high stress job in a city with gross weather but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, recently I participated in one of these calculated risks, that on paper was a really bad idea for a person with my medical profile, but as I like to say YOLO! To which my students respond, “Miss people don’t say that anymore…” Alas my dated expressions and I were invited to participate in a surprise bachelorette beach celebration weekend for a friend that works at the same dive bar I do. We, her colleagues, whisk her away for a debacherous weekend you get the idea. I initially had to decline the invite because I was working a double shift that Saturday (bad idea #1) and didn’t have a ride. However half-way through said shift I get a text from another coworker planning to drive down that night after their shift ending at 2am, leaning in to my poor decision making I say, YAHOO LETS GO! (bad idea #2)

Fast-forward we make it to the beach around 7am, no sleep, I stayed “hydrated” if you catch my drift, and without skipping a beat we joined the beach time fun. With a nap or two here and there, lots of water, and of course remembering my meds, there wasn’t too much else in the way of my usual self care. I did however have a fucking fantastic time, laughed my ass off, and did not think about the usual list of shit that stresses me out once the whole time. This is what I would call high risk high reward. Sure I had to remember my pills, and I definitely got hives from whatever was in my piña colada, and yes I had to sleep two days straight when I got home, but 36hrs of being entirely distracted from the shitstorm of life chronically ill? That’s a pretty good trade off.

The thing about having these kinds of illnesses is that from the moment those symptoms appear and that diagnoses hits, it’s always going to be something you have. That simplicity is gone and it’s replaced by so much shit and we’re just out here trying to navigate this complex mess. So in my book, 48hrs of distraction and laughter and for lack of a better word normal age appropriate shenanigans, is worth the hives, extra dose of Benadryl and day in bed. Just like sometimes accepting a hug from a kindergartener covered in god only knows what, is so so worth it because you’re both beyond ecstatic about his reading growth. It’s a calculated risk, that’s what all the pills and shit are for right?

PS: Dr. Lang if you’re reading this I’m sorry, please don’t break up with me I’ll be a good patient I promise!


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