The Hepalogue

The Robot Doctors Are Gathering Dust

by The Golden Phaeton on 18/07/2016

I’m sure there are a great many people out there who have taken the cure in their stride, who are surging into the future on a wave of liveliness and motivation.

Sadly, I don’t think I’m one of them. I’m sweating a lot less, that’s good. My liver is not sore for the first time in decades, that’s excellent. And, to be sure, I do have extra energy – but as to where it’s directed… that’s another matter.

I find myself with a certain lack of balance. Think of what happens to a helicopter when its tail rotor is shot off. That’s the lack of balance I mean.

I have more energy for worry, stress and anxiety. More energy for keeping myself up at night, agonising over every issue over which one could conceivably agonise… Anger and frustration bubble up unexpectedly – when once my moods were dour, sullen and predictable. I have energy for irritations, grudges and altercations , when previously … well, I would rather just go to bed…

Could I directing my new awareness and strength into a reinforcement of the miserable, self-defeating habits I developed when I still had Hep C? Instead of making a clean break, might I be building a defensive moat around a pile of ash, an absence, a thing that lives on only by the routines it ingrained when it still existed?

If so, it’s a dreadful trap, and not too short of madness.

It’s conceivable that Hep C has been a mask for a lot of things that are not quite right with the way I manage my life. Maybe I’m clinging on to excuses that are no longer valid, and yet give me some kind of solace… I don’t know.

Upshot is, I probably have a lot of work to do before I can get myself back on the rails.

It reminds me of how I felt after the handful of times I tried to quit pharmacotherapy: exposed, over-emotional, ultra-sensitive and confused. I never lasted long. I was back on methadone or bupe in short order. But with a Hep C cure the change is for good. It’s not like I’m going to reinfect myself out of desperation.

Hopefully, all this is part of a process that will end with a psychological cure which I can add to the physical.



In my unceasing efforts to achieve a good night’s sleep, I’ve tried a lot of things.

Listening to audiobooks and podcasts have worked in the past, but lately they tend to keep me awake. I get too engaged. They make me alert rather than drowsy. When I switch them off, my mind strays into red-hot, sensitive areas that leave me tossing and turning.

There are certain scenarios – fantasies might be a better word – which tend to work, if I persevere. The most common involves space travel, faster than light space travel, in which I pilot a ship possessed of god-like technologies, roaming to the four corners of creation, and engaging in all manner of freakish adventures.

Previously, when the Hep C virus was coursing through my veins, it didn’t seem quite right to travel the universe without first having a blood change and liver swap. I would cause this happen immediately after my descent through the pipe beneath my bed to the secret, deeply-buried hangar which houses my starship. After a painless procedure, never lasting more than thirty seconds, my robot doctors would withdraw their tubes, clamps and whatnot, and shortly afterwards my ship would burst from the weed-infested, entrance to a nearby storm-drain and surge into the heavens.

In case you’re wondering, this is true. And I think the only person I’ve ever told is my psychologist.

The first time I indulged in this fantasy after I’d cleared the virus, I came up short when it was time for the robot doctors. They were no longer necessary. Obviously. It was a weird, very-personal kind of pivot point, bringing home the fact I was cured in a somewhat bizarre manner.

These days, as I prepare for interstellar travel, I still sometimes glance at the robot-doctors, powered down, gathering dust, dormant – that is at least until I develop some other debilitating disease.


Returning to the dangers of receding back into ruts created by thirty years of disease-sculpted behaviour… and how they may be avoided…

I’ve always found exercise to be a convenient starting point when digging oneself out of a hole. If I manage to reach a sufficient level of determination, I will start walking… usually taking a particular five kilometre route with which I’m familiar. If get myself reasonably fit by walking regularly for a number of weeks, I’ll head to the pool and do laps – though it’s been a very long time since I’ve pushed it to that level. On rare occasions, when I’ve found myself super fit, I’ve attended weekly yoga classes… but it’s been nearly a decade since those glory days.

In my experience exercise is the most reliable treatment for depression and a whole menagerie of bad moods. Unfortunately, while I was on treatment, I had to abandon it altogether because of ribavirin-induced anaemia. The best I could do, and that only just, was to struggle, gasping, up the ramps at the Docklands Stadium.

But since the end of my treatment, I simply haven’t been inclined to get back in the saddle. And I really do think this maintenance of my sedentary habits has had a lot to do with my fractured state of mind.

People have been telling me that life just keeps getting better, even months and months after the cure. I believe this is possible. All the elements are present – but they’re flying around my head like a swarm of angry bees …

Enter Pokemon Go. And the attendant hubbub. From well out of left field.

I suspect that this super-addictive app may conceivably, single-handedly lead to a significant upswing in general human health.

Predictably, it was my daughter who introduced it to me. “Could you catch me some Pokemon on your walks?” What walks? I thought, having been as vegetative as Jabba The Hut since March.

Fast forward four days. Maybe three? And I think I’ve walked further than I have in the last year. It’s ridiculous, frankly. I’ve gained, not only a bizarre and dorkish obsession (as I am characteristically inclined to do) but also, suddenly and unexpectedly, an efficient route to good health and a better head.

Thus far I’m just feeling tired. That’s to be expected. But soon, inevitably, with every Vulpix, Metapod and Polliwog I gather, I’ll feel stronger. Without doubt, my heart and lungs will clear, my muscles will harden up, and – if I curb my drinking just a little – my liver will benefit from the vast quantities of blood coursing through it.

My head too. It might get right.


The Golden Phaeton

Previous post:

Next post: