Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why me? (Why not?)

"Why me??" is an easy question to ask ourselves when we start suffering from a chronic illness. The symptoms and pain we suffer are very personal, so it's reasonable to take our suffering personally. However, I've never found this line of reasoning to be constructive for me.

When I have a long stretch of pain and stuck indoors on the couch, it's easy to loose sight of the big picture. My pain makes me anxious and depressed. Anxious because there may be no light visible from my end of the tunnel. Depressed because worse, it's not a light at the end of the tunnel--that's a mirror and I'm on fire. Which doesn't make for good coping thoughts!

Seeing myself not doing anything, I start to think it's me, not my pain that's the problem. On the couch, it's tolerable. But I'm still anxious and depressed. I begin thinking that I'm not going out and doing things because of my mood, and I just need to pull up my big-girl pants and tough it out.

Then I go to move...

It feels like all my muscles are filled with sand. The tendons in my joints ache and the soles of my feet burn like I've just run a marathon for the first time. And I go, "Oh yeah... I feel like reconstituted poo," as I carefully lie back down.

When the good days come, I don't even think about moving. I'm up and going towards what I want faster that I realize and I surprise myself. My tolerance for noise and people goes up. And I'm almost manic for the first few days, I'm so giddy to be doing again. (I keep it to a dull roar.) I medicate only to keep withdrawal at bay, but my need to medicate drops by 75%, easy.

I don't get anywhere near where I was before I was sick (gonna have to do a lot of careful rehab to get there). But I get functional at a laid back pace.

I'll take it. It's galaxies away from my worst pain. (The kidney stone they though they were gonna have to hit with ultrasound was an 8. My migraines got to 10. Anything temporary below 7 is ignorable. Anything below a five I actually have trouble noticing, which has gotten me into trouble, unfortunately (e.g., "I wonder how I got that bruise?" as I noticed a black quarter-sized bruise on my knee. Knees generally aren't places ya hit and don't notice, lol).

But I forget, when too many bad days are strung together, who I am. The need to lie down, I twist into a 'desire' to be lazy. Because lazy is my fault and a fixable problem. Does a number on my self-esteem though: lazy, irresponsible, unreliable, burdensome, selfish... All those negative opinions start swirling around and I'm playing whack-a-mole with Blue Meanies. To quote the opera 'Evita' (Rice/Webber): "It's very difficult to keep momentum if it's you that you are following."

I was talking to a friend of mine who was having some real difficulty in his own life. He posed the question:

"How do you deal with the unfairness of it all??"

I thought for a moment and cringed. "You're asking the wrong person..."

"No," he said quite convincingly, "I think I'm talking to exactly the right person."

"Why?" I asked, knowing he had a reason.

"Because you're not going to give me some Pollyanna view of, 'Don't worry, it will all work out...'"

He had me there. So I told him a story.

"I was watching the sun set last night, rocking out to some tunes in my car, and I was watching the swarms of mosquitoes as they played in the wind. And I thought, 'Look at them dart, as if to the beat of the music. I must seem so slow to them.'

"And then it hit me... What would one night feel like, if I lived at the pace and lifetime of a mosquito..."

Knowing I'm an BA of English, he did the math for me.  "That would be seven years..."

"Right... So what if that's this darkness in my life? What if it's so impossible, like making the sun rise or set, that it's just a matter of getting through?"

I don't have a lot of 'Faith.' Spiritual Faith, not faith in gravity or some such. It's too difficult for me to believe that there's a benevolent Higher Power looking out for me. I know and have experienced too much. But there is one thing that I have Faith in:

Time will change things. I just have to pull through until it opens an opportunity to me. That's not always easy or simple, but it is something I can rely on...

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