What does my butt and the cast of "Beverly Hills, 90210" have in common?
Hear me out.
As a perky Toronto theater school student in the early 90's, I was HOOKED on the soapy Spelling show. "90210" depicted teenage angst through the clear-cut, sparkling prism of Beverly Hills' glamorous life. From the impossibly beautiful characters, to the monstrous houses to the super-chic clothes. I gaped at the establishing shots of palm tree-lined boulevards, and especially the great medical institution, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. So. Cool.
The story lines are so innocent by today's standards—Andrea gets pregnant! Donna is a virgin! Kelly has an eating disorder! And who wasn't captivated by Dylan's decision? (Team Brenda vs. Team Kelly, long before Brad Pitt faced the same dilemma.) I ate it up with a telegenic silver spoon.
But it wasn't so much the glamorous life that fascinated me—it never has—it was that this group of friends always stood by each other. Always. When Steve went to find his birth mom. When Dylan relapsed. When Kelly got addicted to cocaine. Having never been a posse kind of girl, I would think, "Oh, please." I had one woman stand up for me at my wedding, was never in a sorority and do not have a hashtag like #gigglegirlz That only exists on TV.
I was at Cedars today. My skin burning has returned. I thought it had run its course, downgraded from straight up agony to an occasional annoyance. Not so much.
So I pulled up to Cedars once again, and noticed the facade that tickled my star-struck fancy when I first arrived in LA. Being at Cedars now feels like starring in a television series that has run its course, where the story-lines begin to border on the ludicrous—Kelly joins a cult!—and you want to change the channel.
It's never much fun when 2 physicians stare at you slack-jawed and stupefied, with a silence so long you could recite the alphabet. Apparently, it is not a virus. It is not lupus. It is not a reaction to any of my medications. Now they are sending me on my itchy, scratchy, burning way to see an allergist, just to "...dot our "i"s and cross our "t"s (which makes very little sense to me, but that's another post).
In 2008, I began publicly writing, and have made no secret of my harrowing journey through drug addiction and emergence—now 2 and a half years sober—to the other side. It's an unfortunate draw of the short stick when a drug addict is also chronically ill. Tylenol just doesn't cut it.
There is a saying in 12 Step rooms—"One pill is too many, and a thousand is never enough." That pretty much sums me up. One pill awakens for me, a "long day's journey into nightmare" from which I might never return. I know that now, and I am no longer willing to take that chance. But there are days, like yesterday, when I was in so much pain, I thought,
"I have no choice." Oh, but I do.
Before sobriety, I never wanted share how much pain I was in, because I never thought anyone would understand. It's true that most people don't. How can they? Pain is personal and powerful, and I've been circling the medical block for over 34 years. It's hard to compete with a professional patient. But I'm done with the games. Before sobriety, my life never depended upon help. Now it does.
Kevin has always been the singular member of my posse. I was content with this, but this poor man still endures my occasional twist ('n scream) 'n shout. Yesterday, it was time to look outside our gang of two—for his sake and mine. Yesterday, I was willing to reach out and sob 2 soul-saving words.
My Brenda, my Kelly, my Andrea and my Donna, even the guest stars. With your toned and tailored arms you enfolded me into that group hug of which I had always dreamed. One-by-one, voicemail after voicemail, text after text, I was no longer alone. And for a while I was no longer in pain.
It's almost impossible to enjoy your life when you are in pain. But writing this reminds me of a lyric from the old country song,
"I beg your pardon. I never promise you a rose garden."
I talked to two friends on the way down to Cedars, four friends on the way home, with two VMs still pending. My Kevin? He called me twice before I had even left the parking lot. My Brandon. Or Dylan. Or Brandon. Or Dylan.
This is the glamorous life. All of it: Good friends, deep pain and a steroid shot in the butt.
(Can you hear the guitar riff?)