“Before you leave, Alice, will you check my shins? I’ve got these red blotches—looked like pin pricks a while ago. Are these more side effects of the Dexamethasone?” I leaned over and pulled up my pants leg for her scrutiny.

“I’m ‘fraid so—small lesions from dilated blood vessels,“ she said, her brown eyes softening over her mask. Her confirmation shut down my next question about future skin problems.

This experience led to a deeper consideration of side effects that doctors feel peripheral to the drugs recommended for their patients’ symptoms.

It seems to me that untoward side effects follow in the wake of unconscious motives, speech, and actions. For much of my life, my adherence to defense mechanisms, of necessity learned as s child, had kept me unconscious. And with the advent of chronic pain and illness savaging my young body, all the more did my psyche rigidify—in no way was growth possible or even desirable. Nor could I see my self-imposed suffering. It was always someone else’s fault.

Not until I began 12 Step work, first in Alcoholic Anonymous in 1991, then in Chronic Pain Anonymous in 2017 did I begin to wake up and live.

In subsequent blogs, I will trace how my rigidity became more fluid through 12-Step work, even despite terminal illness. The 12 Steps really work if you work them, daily.