Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Glimpsing the Rainbow

"Nobody ever had a rainbow baby, until he had the rain..."
-Jim Croce

I've loved Jim Croce's music since I was about 12. He was a great singer/songwriter who really knew how to use words. I've just recently started to listen to Big Jim again and can only wonder what he would have done with his life had it not been cut short at 30.

It's been about two months since my last post. It's been a frustrating and finally rewarding time. Lots of rain and not too many rainbows...

As of one month ago I am now off of the anti-seizure medication Tegretol, which is a good thing. In the mean time I've been battling some episodes of anxiety and insomnia. Not exactly panic attacks, but intense anxiety, especially at night after I go to bed. I'm not sure if they are related to coming off Tegretol or are related to symptoms I was having prior to surgery (I don't think this is the case) or perhaps some PTSD-ish stuff. Whatever is causing them, they're not fun. Also, I feel like my balance is off. Not exactly dizzy, but just a little off at times.

Initially my GP prescribed Paxil to help with the anxiety. I picked up my prescription, then decided not to take it after reading that coming off of Paxil can be difficult for some people. Because the anxiety wasn't happening every day, but maybe just a couple times a week, I asked if there was something I could take as-needed rather than a daily med like Paxil. So, the GP gave me Xanax instead. Xanax definitely calms my nerves enough to let me sleep when the anxiety gets bad. I've taken it about 6 times in the last month or so. It seems like the episodes are slowly becoming less frequent or less intense as time goes by. Or maybe I'm just learning how to manage it.

Whatever is going on, I am clearly not 100% back to the good old me. And perhaps this is the new me and I won't ever feel the way I did before all this started nearly a year ago. I feel different. It can be difficult to concentrate and sometimes I can't come up with the words I'm looking for. I also feel like it takes more effort to think and solve problems.  If this is the new me, I'm having a hard time accepting it. I suppose only time will tell and I'll just have to wait and see what the future brings.

Monitor Pass, July 2010
On a brighter note, the creative part of my life is slowly moving forward. In October I taught a planum printing workshop at my home to a small group of very kind people. That was a good warm-up for a 4-day workshop I taught in Yosemite in early November. The Yosemite workshop was fantastic. My dear friend David Eisenlord came out from Minnesota to help me with the workshop. It was great having him there. It's nice to have such good friends who "have your back" when you need it. The six students in the class were fun and enthusiastic. And they were kind enough to cut me some slack when I needed it. One of them happened to be a massage therapist, and that didn't hurt either. Well it did, but in a good way.

El Capitan, Yosemite

Bridal Veil Falls

El Capitan

Bridal Veil Falls

So, on I go. Always thankful to have my beautiful family who are there to prop me up when I can't stand alone and loving me, even if I'm not quite the same "me" that I used to be. And thankful for my friends who show their friendship in so many ways. To my friends that are going through your own health and medical issues, hang in there and don't be afraid to ask for help. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay all the kindness that has been sent my way, but I will try.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I am a lucky man.


  1. Hope to hear you continue to overcome/lick this thing, and that we can have the old you back (not that I or anyone feels you went away in the first place!!) Even if it feels like you took a step back, it's all part of the healing process....Meanwhile, keep making the great work. Hope you and the family have a great Thanksgiving. A

  2. Patience is, they say, a virtue - not one that I'm real good at. But it took me close to 3 years to recover from major surgery, and if I am not the same as before, at least I don't have a giant tumor anymore, either. How could you be the same, after what you've been through? As you keep on the path to health and wellness, the darkness of the past year will help illuminate the brightness ahead - hooray for contrast, especially for artists. Just the fact of exploring the sensations, as you do here, changes you. All best to you and the K's...

  3. I agree with Martha. Major surgery is...uh...major, and it takes time to heal. Don't despair, it's still early in the process, unfortunately. Hang in there.

  4. Kerik:
    You are my hero as a person, as a human being and as a man. Thank goodness, you have ample amounts of honesty and humbleness to find your healing path.
    Blessings to you and your family, my friend.
    With love,

  5. Ah yes, 'hang in there' as Ben Franklin said, for "we must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." And beyond friends, in the privacy of mortal combat, 'tis good you do hand-to-hand battle with the psyche for your gracious independence, only giving ground when needed. After with, sleep ever so soundly under Carol's wing, that's just how lovers are. BTW, nice pics! But what happened to Bridal Veil, that glowing thing behind it is a little big for the Moon and a bit off for a normal round-n-round??? :)

  6. Kerik,
    Thanks so much for being so open and sharing this with your friends. You and your family are so dear. And indeed it is the best blessing of all to have so many who care about you and your well being. It is wonderful to hear that you are on a path to wellness.
    The very best of wishes to you and all your lovely ladies (Carol and the girls) who care for you so very well. Jayne Jones (Teaching on-line now, from Texas, for KPC in Alaska... that's a real twist!!)

  7. Hi Kerik and the family,

    I send my thoughts to you and continue to 'hold my thumbs' for everything to get better and better every day.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving Friend!!

    It is a blessing to know you and your family. You are inspiring, creative, loving, kind and such a genuine person. Thank you.

    I hope each day is better than the one before.

  9. Keep kickin' it Big Man. All will be well. Happy Turkey Day to you and the ladies. Hope to see you in March.

  10. Hey, Kerik, sorry to hear about the anxiety crap. That's supposed to be my thing. Xanax is great, and I think you'll come to love it. In my experience, anyway, it targets anxiety really well. And since anxiety is largely a feedback phenomenon (it gets worse because you get anxious about getting anxious), just knowing that you can take a Xanax is often enough to keep the anxiety under control.

    I've heard that Xanax can be addictive and some people have difficulty coming off of it, but I haven't experienced that. I've never taken it steadily for an extended period of time, so no chemical dependency. And it doesn't make me feel good, it just makes me not feel anxious, so there's no reason to want to take it if I'm not anxious--i.e., no psychological addiction. It's just a really good med for anxiety.

    I think you're right that you'll never feel the way you did a year ago. We're always changed by the big things in our lives, and there's never any going back. Life's a process of losing innocence and security. We can replace them with anger and despair, or with wisdom and love. I'm not worried about which direction you're headed. As you say, you're lucky to have such good family and friends--except it's not just luck.

    Sorry if I've wandered off into Pretentiousland. I just wanted to say that it's my belief you can trust Xanax and trust the future.

    Things here on the south side of the highway are fairly screwed up, but I haven't forgotten we're way overdue for a dinner.

    -- Mark