Pain is a funny thing. If you live with a low level of chronic pain as I do, you know it’s like that kid in the back seat who keeps asking “Are we there yet?” You recognize that you can’t stop the car and toss him out but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to smack crap out of him. That level of pain becomes familiar, almost reassuring. It hasn’t gotten worse, therefore I haven’t gotten worse. Yayz! Sometimes you even take pride in how long you can withstand the worst of it before you knuckle under and do whatever it is you do to smack it down a little. You learn to tough it out. Sometimes it astonishes me how much pain we’re capable of just ignoring on a day-to-day level. When it’s at its worst I take it out on ignorant assholes online because there’s nothing like a good flame war to make you forget how shitty you feel.
Then there’s the pain that gives us a rush. The “no pain, no gain” sort of pain that precedes a rush of endorphins when you’re working out, or the hot food burn that makes you think you might just die right there at the dinner table, or the pain of the tattoo needle, which is my favorite. (Yes, okay, I’m a little kinky. What else is new?)
And then there’s the level that turns you into a whining shrew, the constant, crippling sort of pain of, let’s say for the sake of argument and because this is what I’m feeling right now, a bad back. Yeah, my back’s gone out on me. And I tell you in all honesty that if someone gave me a flame-thrower and lined up a bunch of child and animal abusers right now, the carnage would be mind-boggling. I doubt I’d stop until I had a pile of charcoal to draw with. This is the sort of pain that robs me of my social graces, and I rip into people I actually like, necessitating apologies later. Yes, this kind of pain could truly be called “graceless.” It doesn’t stop unless you find just the right position to hide from it for a few minutes. But it always finds you again and kicks crap out of you when it does.
This isn’t new; I’ve had a bad back since I was maybe six or seven. I twisted to look at something, to reach for something, to say something to someone — who really remembers fifty years later? — and something went utterly haywire back there. For a week I could sit down but couldn’t stand back up without tears. And then it went away. It comes back maybe every ten to twenty years, roars back, usually triggered by the same sort of innocuous movement, and makes me miserable for a week or two, then disappears for yet another mysterious reason. Of course there was the episode when I was putting together a stationary bike and went to lift the flywheel (50lbs of metal) from a kneeling position. Yeah, stupid. I literally spent the next week in bed, flat on my back, and only got up to crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom. My doctor shot cortisone into my spine that time. Didn’t help much.
So today I want push the self-discipline thing into high gear because I’m just that stubborn. I tell myself: I WILL get the kitchen cleaned up. I WILL get a load of laundry done. I WILL take out the garbage. I fear I will actually just sit and snivel for a while about how shitty I feel instead. I know I also will be looking for fights, and be irritated by the smallest things. Every time the phone or doorbell rings, I’ll turn the air blue with cusses because I hate being bothered when I am miserable. I don’t honestly think that’s a good enough reason, but it’s mine. I own it and I’m going to scratch it behind its ears like the good little pointless reason it is. The only contact I can tolerate is with the people I consider family because they are the ones who have the right to say “I know you hurt but you’d feel better if you stopped acting like a horse’s ass.” And they’re the ones who ask “Need anything while I’m kicking your sorry butt?” To save them the trouble, I say now “I know, thanks.” and “No, just time and my heating pad, thanks.”
So if you find me snappish or distracted for the next few days it’s just that I feel like hell and I’m sharing the joy. But don’t expect a lot of updates. I believe that people who spend a lot of time telling you what’s wrong with their lives are tiresome, and that’s worse than being in pain.
At least I have Cheeky Monkey to warm my head and a lot of good books to read.