At work, a small white tablet was found straggling around in my purse. I heard angel choirs chanting not too far off this multi-dimensional realm. I split the porcelain little helper in two. Even before popping the first half, the placebo effect of the hope that was to come was already melting troubles away like lemon drop shots.
All these mornings have been groundhog-ish. I had an interruption in my regular treatment for the ‘wolf disease’, and so the inflammation and pain came back with a vengeance. With permission from a doctor’s note, I have stumbled into work late almost every day in the last two weeks. When I pry my dessert-dry eyes open in the morning, while blood is trashing around in my skull, I begin the process of gauging my pain levels. Neck: Stiff. Hips: swollen. Feet: extra swollen. Back: stabbing. Elbows: Stuck. Wrist and Fingers: numb. Organs: Tender. I’m exhausted from lack of recuperation, but also mentally, from the automatic conditioning that has set in; the rapid-fire assessment I make two minutes from wake-up time. I know the day is going to be a battle and my brain wages war to stay home for an hour or two more.
Eventually I unfurl my spine and muster the bravery to place my feet on the floor. Morning stiffness and swelling is normal. For the rest of the day, continual movement is paramount, otherwise, my joints will stay stuck in motionless positions. I still don’t know how to describe many of the symptoms that come with this condition. The best one yet, which I don’t know if the average person can understand, is that it feels like my blood doesn’t fit inside its veins and my limbs don’t fit inside it’s skin encasing. The most recent pain is my lower back. The doctor said there is no damage. “It’s just inflammation.” I doubt the words of that arrogant fool, but I’m also helpless in my limited amount of time to take off work and see every doctor for every spot on my body that’s wrong.
My excitement for the Perk was because I had run out of them. The physician switched me to Vicodin, a very unpleasant substitute which reduces pain, adds headaches, has angered my autoimmune and takes my literal breath away. This cannot continue.
For that reason, finding a lost little Percocet made my next 4-6 hours. However, the concern simmers within. It won’t be long before it wears off and no more rogue pills will be laying around to be found.
This is not the most unbearable pain I’ve ever experienced, but it’s the most ongoing pain I’ve ever had to deal with. I’m not sure how to do it and when the big picture spans out before my eyes, out of focus and blurry, panic begins to stir.
Am I becoming dependent on a short-term solution?
Am I falling trap to a cognitive dissonance that justifies pill popping. Even if its prescribed?
What constitutes the right to pain killers?
What if you need them to keep your job?
What is the deal with organic herbs that ease pain without causing systematic damage like synthetic narcotics? Why don’t I live in California or Amsterdam?
When will they build a Whole Foods in my neighborhood?
How do I keep my job and my home from being neglected in my condition?
How am I to reduce to a more manageable part-time, if I need to pay for so many medicines, appointments, and tests? How am I supposed to keep my mental peace when its at war with my body?
How am I going to do my part as a capable housewife if I run out of energy too early on the same day that my beloved cat decides to poop on our mattress and pee on all our spare mattresses?
What if I don’t stop asking all these unanswerable questions and die right here of cardiac arrest?
All these questions ruminate above in my head with great insistence.
They tumble inside my brain like a dryer with damp laundry all they want, but none of it is solvable if i don’t stop the cycling. Stress exacerbates fatigue, pains, and surrender. Action however, gets the job done.
I’m a big believer of a mini-break down. If you fight it too long, you’re have a certified melt-down and that’s just too inconvenient for everyone. After you’re done crying and venting to a friend/family member who provides you a less morbid solution than resorting to admitting yourself in an insane asylum, you wait for your blotchy skin to normalize, you assume rhythmic breathing, you decrease your voice’s pitch from supersonic back to human, send a quick prayer through the proper channels, and you lay out your plan.
As soon as your vision isn’t blurred, you call all your doctors with reasonable inquiries and requests. Then you research on acupuncture and and natural therapies because your doctor is bound to take guesses as good as a two-year old. You buy a box of pinch-proof gloves and an enzyme cleaner for unpleasant odors. You put aside any feminism and ask Husband for suggestions and to kindly pass the vacuum once a week for you (He won’t know if you don’t ask). Draw smiley faces on the bills you don’t intend to pay. Powder your face again if warranted. Thank your friends for letting you be at your worst with them and still letting you maintain your credibility when the show is over.
You also learn to prepare better for next time. It’s time to invest in the sponge bat I’ve been suggesting might be the greatest problem solver in the world.
I especially like this one with the adjustable size for the days my symptoms throw me on the couch and the cats start meowing suspiciously.
Pain killers are a temporary solution. Being in turmoil is inevitable but should always be dealt with. Being overwhelmed doesn’t have to be the dirty little secret many sweep under the ground as if this life was a summer breeze. Take meds if you must, but learn how to get on by your own terms. That alone is like natural opiates.
And that’s the way Sue C’s it. *
*High-five, Glee Geeks!