Monday, October 05, 2015

Pain: A Most Curious Beast

Random chronic pain (as in, a foreign yet familiar ongoing and often unexplained kind of pain) is an interesting beast. I can’t help but wonder, what is going on with my nervous system at the cellular level to cause such strange sensations all over my body. The only word that can come close to describing this type of pain is simply, wrong. It manifests itself in many peculiar ways. In the moment (or the hours and days) that my tissues and organs light up with electricity; an invisible wasp hiding deep within, stings over and over from the inside out; nonexistent bruises throb without being touched; my legs or arms or hands become deadweight with an ache so deep its untouchable; unconsumed poison spreads throughout my body, my arteries and veins the perfect underground transport system to reach every inch of flesh inside and out; well, in this moment, I lose my breath and my mind can’t help but ask, “Is this the end? Is this Death? How can flesh and bone survive this strangeness, this wrong?

Yes, I know I am sick. Countless disease labels, procedures and surgeries have built a medical file so thick a ship was needed to carry it across the Atlantic. Yet still, undiagnosed pain often rules my life. And I am not alone.

Chronic pain gets around. It preys on the weak and the strong. It cares not about age nor race nor faith.

As I lie in my bed wondering, wondering if this is Death, and wrapped in a blanket of loneliness, I think of all those across oceans and mountains and plains who suffer too, and I weep for them and for me and for all the caregivers in our lives who must watch, incapable to cure or alleviate the wrong.

Yet, despite the wrong, I am still here. I am still hanging on. Death is only teasing, taunting, threatening. But even though Death pokes and prods, it has not taken me.

So, when pain overcomes, I will be still. And when it relaxes its grip, even just a bit, freeing my body and mind and spirit to move, give and sing, I will. I will, with a thankful heart take each moment of freedom to its maximum. I will pose for pictures with a smile on my face. I will climb in a giant bubble ball with my nieces and nephews. I will laugh. I will play and write and make love and music and art. I will carry my camera to the ends of the earth capturing every memory possible. I will talk with strangers on the street and journal their story. I will weep with those who hurt and celebrate those filled with happiness. I will use my voice to advocate for the underdog. I will blast my playlist throughout my house soaking in the beat; the melody; the lyrics while I dance. I will walk, step by step toward light.

I will live.

And as long as I have breath, I will embrace the good and exhale the bad.

It’s all I know to do.

 {Artwork: "Some Pain Along the Way" - By Dan Earle and "Earth in Pain" - By Andrea Banjac}