The Opportunity Costs of Life
Every action we take in life has a cost. The currency we pay in may be time, money, health, sanity or relationships. Most people never think about this until they get a little older in life and reflect back on past years. They come to the understanding that all of their actions have put them in their current situation; whether it’s fortuitous or tumultuous.
Every choice we make takes away from another opportunity that could have been. Sometimes the costs are so great that looking back on them drums up great pain in our souls. For the intelligent, wise, or possibly just lucky; their opportunity costs have been low. They have lived their lives in a very fruitful manner where the gains have exceeded their losses.
I struggle with judging the costs of my actions and how they affected my life. At a cursory glance I immediately think I paid a heavy price. I have made decisions with my life that have been very costly to my health and well-being. My lifestyle, career choices and rampant drug use and abuse throughout much of my life has had a profound impact on my present situation.
I’m fortunate to be as healthy as I am. I’ve done a massive amount of damage to my body and been lucky enough to avoid extremely serious issues. I believe these were bumps in the road that God or the universe has thrown in my way to wake me up and correct the path I was on.
Five to six years ago I was using coke and painkillers very heavily. I also drank and used steroids. During this time I contracted a virus that attacked my heart and I was hospitalized.
After a couple days at the hospital I was diagnosed with a viral cardiomyopathy. The doctors were uncertain whether my heart would get back to normal, stay the same or get worse. They covered all the possible options with their amazingly vague prognosis.
Over the next two years my heart recovered. I was on ACE inhibitors and beta blockers to control my blood pressure and hopefully prevent my heart from further damage. I never stopped using opiates, even while in the hospital. Two weeks out of the hospital I was back in the gym. Three to Four months after that I was back on a low dose of steroids. A couple weeks after starting back on steroids I was using coke again.
My bill for that life experience was rather steep. However, without batting an eye, I continued on the road I was on. They say pain is the cornerstone of growth and change. For much of my life the pain had to become unbearable for me to make changes.
Less than a year after my cardiomyopathy I ended up in rehab for the second time in my life. I was clean and sober for about 6 months. I met a ton of good people in the program. I learned valuable tools and truths about life that I will never forget.
Unfortunately, I didn’t always put these tools to use. Once I stopped going to meetings I was back to using pretty quickly. Then, for some reason I just decided I couldn’t use coke anymore. I hated it and what it had done to my life. I just got to a point where enough was enough and I couldn’t stand the pain any longer. On the 4th of July in 2012 I quit using cocaine and have not used it to this day.
I continued to use low doses of steroids until the summer of 2013, when I was 33. I always looked at steroids as being rather benign, unless you use absurd physiological doses. Even after what I am about to tell you, I still have that opinion of testosterone in small dosages.
I had just gotten back together with my ex girlfriend. We spent the majority of the summer at her parent’s beach house. I wasn’t using pain killers or coke. I was in love with the woman I thought I would marry. I was preparing to quit my illegitimate business ventures and I had plenty of money. Life was pretty damn great.
Then I started having some pain in the lower right side of my abdomen. My doctor thought it could be a hernia so he sent me for CT scan. I was at my ex’s beach house eating dinner with her when I received a life changing phone call from my doctor. He told me the scan showed I had two pool ball size lesions on my liver that were more than likely Hepatocellular Carcinomas (Liver cancer).
I went through a gamut of tests over the next couple of weeks. Including several liver biopsies, which were possibly the most physically painful experiences of my life. When all the smoke cleared I had gotten lucky again. The lesions turned out to be Hepatic Adenomas. The doctors diagnosed my steroid use as the cause for these lesions.
I begrudgingly stopped using steroids when I first got the news that it could be cancer. I lost a good deal of my size, my dick didn’t work right for 6 months, and mentally I was a wreck. I started using painkillers again during this time and ultimately my actions from that point on cost me my relationship.
Looking back on how I handled these changes I feel very foolish and ungrateful. I had just been giving a new chance at life being told I did NOT have liver cancer. I had the opportunity to move to a new area with my girlfriend and her son and start a new life. I had given up my previous life, without having to go to jail. I had saved up more than enough money to live off of for several years. But I couldn’t see past the pain of the change.
I decided to choose being stuck. I was sulking and trying to bring back the past instead of looking towards the future and being open about the possibilities. I lost two people I loved and a future I hoped for in this process. It was a heavy price I had to pay for the choices I made.
It’s easy for me to see what my actions have cost me. It’s much more difficult for me express gratitude for all of the lessons life has taught me that I never wanted to learn. I have lived an awful lot in my 35 years. I have done and seen things the majority of people I know have not. I have the ability to enjoy my life with many comforts that I take for granted. I am able to learn, grow and start over with a new found self. I have friends and family that love me despite my actions.
My life has lead me to this point where I’m comfortable enough with myself to share my experiences. I have faith that my words may resonate with others and help them choose life. That I can create a better world for myself and those around me.
If I had never have paid these opportunity costs in pain, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I may never have felt this sense of purpose in my life. I have so much good surrounding me. Good I may never have discovered had I not made decisions that took me to a point that I had no choice but to make a change.
Life changes. The reality is the only way to be comfortable is to accept change. Stop fighting the old and looking for comfort. Nothing ever stays the same. People go in and out of our lives. We change jobs. Our looks change. Feelings change. The only constant in life is change. Embrace the change.