In my mid-20s, an out-of-nowhere viral infection landed me in the hospital for nearly a month, about a quarter of which I spent in ICU. Despite several spinal taps, a bone marrow aspiration, and a right thoracotomy, a diagnosis was elusive. Employing the medical equivalent of a “Hail Mary” pass, the doctors gave me a blood transfusion and pumped me full of steroids. It worked and I was discharged a week later, without ever knowing exactly what I’d had. The lead physician on my team noted that my recovery could be tracked by my boredom. At first, I was so sick I was oblivious to everything around me. By the third dose of steroids, I had counted every object in my hospital room—including the six ducks in the print on the wall, five in the pond and one in flight. When I started giving the ducks names, they sent me home.
It’s occurred to me that I can perhaps use the same instrumentation to track my recovery this time. However, I’ve run across an unexpected dilemma. I’m bored all the time, but not in the antsy, send-me-back-to-the-world kind of way that signaled my previous return to robust health. Between the depression, which steals my joy, and the medication, which suppresses my emotions, I’m still numb. I’m bored because I can’t bring myself to engage with the things I care about. Even playing board games with my daughters, who have been on a school break the last few days, I find myself disinterested and disconnected. I know this isn’t how I’m supposed to feel, but I can’t force myself to experience life the way I want to.
I’m bored, but not in a good way. It’s frustrating and defeating. This week I am starting the next phase of my medication taper. I’m hopeful that the boredom will start to recede and, in its place, interest will take hold.