Some Thoughts On Maintaining Perspective

So I’m having a bit of a rough June…

I won’t get into the gory details (or post the photos!) but it involves a minor medical procedure, a longer-than-expected recovery, an unexpected infection which may or may not be a result of that first procedure and which swelled one of my arms up to double the size of the other one, multiple medications, getting a surprise incision during one trip to ER, time off work, finding out I’m allergic to an antibiotic the hard way (again, no photos but trust me – not pretty!), realising gravity is sometimes the best medicine, going without booze for probably longer than any time since I was 18 years old, avoiding the sun, multiple trips to my family doc and/or the Medi-Clinic on the weekend, ongoing drainage of pus and blood (again, I won’t post photos though I do have them!)

It’s especially frustrating for a couple reasons – I’m not sick in the traditional sense where you’re bedridden and in pain for a day or two then feel better.  This illness has been more irritating than anything (although I’ve also had some pretty serious fever and chills and tiredness that had me googling things like “flesh-eating disease” and “when do you need to amputate an arm?”)

Anyhow, knock on wood but I hope I’m on the downhill side of this whole mess.  It’s been a pain in the ass (er, arm) and beyond frustrating but it’s easy to keep perspective for a variety of reasons.  One obvious way is that there are numerous people in my life who are living with so much more adversity and illness that it helps keep my minor quibbles in perspective.

And it could be much *much* worse – I stumbled across an obituary posted on Facebook today by a musician named Alun Pigguns who I shared a cab with once in Calgary after a house concert.  The obit was for a guy named Paul Andrew MacLeod.  The middle name threw me off and it took me a second to realise this was Paul MacLeod, a musician whose album “Close and Play” was sort of like a personal secret in my music collection since not many people knew it.  I first got into MacLeod when I learned that Hawksley Workman produced one of his albums and his song “Giants” remains one of my favourite songs.  Reading further today, I realised MacLeod was also a member of the seminal Canadian indie-rock band, The Skydiggers, which I’d somehow never realised before.

I read the obit and saw that his family was asking for donations to the Canadian Mental Health Association and combined with MacLeod’s young age (46), this is usually a fairly clear indication that someone took their own life.

I did some more Googling and found an article detailing how MacLeod had lived with schizophrenia for over 20 years and was in legal trouble less than a month ago for abusing his girlfriend, narrowly avoiding a prison sentence.

Obviously I don’t justify his abuse of others (or himself) but it’s also sad to think how his mental illness and recent troubles may have led to his life ending so abruptly.

And I’m not saying that my minor elbow infection and a full body rash are in any way comparable to living with mental illness or cancer or lord knows what.  Instead, I just need to keep this as a reminder of something I’ve tried to make a central approach to my life recently – *everyone* is dealing with shit and no matter how serious it may or may seem, it’s serious to the person.  And all will deal with their shit in their own way and it’s not my place to judge, only to help and support where I can (and accept help and support from others when offered.)

Such a happy song to make me sad today…


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