I’m not a stranger to managing pain. I have had four surgeries in five years, and every one of them left me in pretty bad shape.
Pain has so much power…
There is a slippery bridge from physical pain to mental anguish. I try not to step on it. I know what’s on the other side, and it’s uglier than the physical pain. Have you been there?
Ah, the evil snares of pain. It can take over your every thought, and every minute if you let it. But I give in. Sometimes.
I can’t do a damn thing to control the pain, other than wait it out. It’s healing, I say. Bit by bit. I can’t question the why or how long, because that leads me to that bridge. I can’t think about it too long… or that bridge appears and lures me to the other side.
Attempting to live on one leg doesn’t work too well with my intentions. I’m guessing it doesn’t work too well in anyone’s life really.
Try it. I dare you.
Go get yourself a glass of water…
Pull yourself off of the couch and hop a dozens time to make it over to your scooter, while grabbing at the coffee table for balance. Then twist the scooter a half a dozen times while lifting it to place it in the direction you need to go, while balancing on one leg. Wind around backpacks and furniture, causing you to stop and lift the scooter up and redirect it over and over again, to get to the kitchen. When you reach in the fridge, be careful not to fall or lose your balance, because you no longer have the security of wheels that slide to hold you in place. It takes a leg of steal to steady yourself for weeks and jump from the fridge to the counter every time you want a drink. And God forbid you try to clean out that fridge… all the while balancing on one leg. Don’t take out those heavy casserole dishes or you will truly pay for it.
Twenty minutes later, with sweat pouring from your face- you realize it isn’t worth the battle to calm your mental need to find order and control, while sacrificing your physical screams to stop. So you work your way back to the couch, where it seems you belong.
You look at your plate for hours and no longer wanting it in your view, you try to take it to the kitchen, delicately balancing your scooter with one hand and directing it with one leg, while balancing the plate. You still have to lift the scooter multiple times and redirect it’s path while balancing the plate and sturdying your leg to grip the floor with everything you’ve got. By the time you get to the kitchen, you push through trying to clean the plate leaving your working leg trembling with that tweak of your hip, or sometimes your knee giving out.
Does you no good.
So you work your way back to the couch, where it seems you belong.
You lie there; trying to pull yourself up with your wrists that are so sore you can barely put pressure on them. They are tired of leveraging your weight over and over and over again.
Then of course there is the pulsating original pain… that scratches at your nerves and wrings out your veins with sheer fire as you catch your breath and wait it out, until it turns into a slow hum of tiny knives and throbbing hammers that taunt here and there… the calf wanting some attention too, so it clenches its fists and you can’t do a damn thing to stretch it out.
So it twists tighter…
You want to eat at the cast until it tears off, so you can scratch and gnaw and claw at the scabs and the wounds until they hear you.
You reach for a sip of your water… but your arms are so sore you can’t lift them all the way up. They have carried you up stairs and hoisted you off of toilets and into way-too-high beds and slippery bathtubs.
They hate you too.
You can’t put your wounded foot down on the couch, because every placement you try releases more pain from the touch of pressure, so you hold it in the air…
Try this way, and that. Lift here and there, tug the blanket, push the pillow, pull the cushion, until you finally fall asleep… restless. Knowing this vicious limb will wake you with a penetrating seizure of explosive fireworks.
This is a tiny piece of my living.
So I wait.
Tonight I started to allow it all to get to me. Deep down…to that place.
You know that fragile place that is fenced off with all our faith and functioning and fortitude…
The slippery bridge beckoned me.
Pain can do that. It can break you. Down. To that place of crumbling into despair and rage.
I claimed “NO!! I won’t let you take me down!”
And I flashed back in my mind, to hours earlier lying with my daughter snuggling as best I can with my one working leg around her and somehow we manage. I ignore the pain, as I defy it by embracing this moment. I feel her sweet breath on my face as we fall into each other’s love. I tell her for the 400th time today how proud I am of her, and how amazing I think she is, as I repeat all the reasons why once again.
I had watched her come home from school and get straight to her work, as she anxiously worries about four more tests this week and a project. She organizes her papers and folders at the table and I watch her so focused and driven to do her very best… I ask her all about her day and tell her how proud I am of all her choices and her amazing motivation and commitment to her studies.
She works for hours showing me her completed project with a smile. She eats and is off to her swim practice. She comes back and tells me she did really well with a very hard training, and there’s that glow I so adore, and don’t see often. She believes in her progress… for the first time in weeks. Her eyes are red and her hair soaked as she empties all her equipment and looks exhausted. But happy. Proud.
I squeal with delight over the news and tell her once again, how incredibly proud I am of how hard she has worked all year. I’m amazed at her determination and unbelievable stamina.
We snuggle together while watching football, and she sighs and squeezes into me with her whispering “I love you mom” and I pull her in tighter and start to kiss her all over her face as she giggles.
“You’re my favorite girl in the whole wide world.” I say.
She’s exhausted. She knows she can’t make it another minute… so up she goes to bed and I climb up the stairs behind her and crawl down the hall to hoist myself up on her way-too-high bed and roll over to throw my good leg over her body and pull her in tight.
This is where my mind shall go… oh the joy! Oh the love! I inhale it in, as I soften with such beauty to behold. I decide to stay there, instead of stepping onto that bridge.
I am blessed.
I know people who are in pain for more than a few months… they are in pain for years. I don’t know how they bear it, really. I feel weak just rambling on about mine. But it is exactly where I am – so this is what I write.
I have laid for hours through the night, writing in my mind about all kinds of things aside from this relentless pain. Oh, how I long to pour it all out here!
But for now?
I pray for those who are in pain. I know many. I think I learned the greatest way to defeat that monster is what I did, and continue to do. Claim the beauty in your life. Relive it. Soak in it. Let it take you out of that taunting place where you fall deeper into despair. Let it lift you into tears of joy and gratitude. Bask in it. Revel in it.
Pull out the wider lens, if you need it. Or focus into the pieces of your perspective that have more power than that snarling pain.
Perhaps the pain will live on, but your new-found strength will surpass it, and joy will defeat it, and love- oh the breath of love, will outlast it.
I will NOT step onto that bridge. I have too much beauty to behold…
On this side.