When I was a child, I was subject to startling bouts of pain that came with no warning and could last for hours. Much later, as an adult, they were diagnosed as pleurisy. I never asked for help when enduring this pain, it never occurred to me to tell my parents or to see the doctor. The sharp, intense bursts of pain came often in the night and I suffered them alone.
Though I didn't know what the pain was called, I learned more about its nature. I learned that if I turned on my side, away from the pain, the pain would actually get worse; if I leaned into it, it might lessen. Any sudden movement would cause it to escalate; if I lay still it would throb quietly away and slowly, slowly ease. If I choose to get up and walk, the pain would be excruciating, but sometimes would pass by quickly.
If I had enough courage, I would sometimes get out of bed and hobble down the dark hallways, to try and force the pain to pass. Usually I would choose to lie still and submit to it. Perhaps in order to manage the fear, I personified this pain.
I remember learning that word "personify." I loved that there was a term for something that came so naturally to me and for something which existed only in thought. I personified everything, from the weather to my crayons. My favorite were numbers. I hated math and perhaps this was something I did to make it interesting for me.
The numbers one, two and three were children, three being a toddler and one being a baby. Four was a lovely young woman. Five was a strong and gallant fellow, six was a wise old man and seven was a dapper, swashbuckling hero. Eight was the bumbling side kick to nine, who was the evil mastermind.
Addition and subtraction became small battles between good and evil, depending on what number was the sum. So 9-4=5 was nine attempting to kidnap beautiful four, but she is saved by stalwart five. It is perhaps no wonder that I was never very good at math.
In this way, pain became a panther, black as night and so large it might take up the whole room, the edges of its shape blending into the shadows. Pain was this panther gnawing on my bones. I could vividly imagine its eyes, glowing and fathomless. If I lay very still, I might be able to tame the creature, or at least not disturb it.
I thought of this memory as I've dealt with my back pain. It makes me feel old, in a way nothing else has. I can't wear heels, my back would freeze up in an hour. Though I ran out of the narcotics a week ago, I still have to take ibuprofen with me at all times, and take four at least once a day.
My first day at work crawled by. I am used to the chaos of hands on care managing, the pressure of getting everything done within tight time constraints, and that tends to make the day fly by. Sitting at a desk, however, waiting for the phone to ring does tend to stretch the hours out. I managed to hang up on one customer and thoroughly confuse another; a good day's work!
On the up side, there is a great deal of busy work that involves typing, something that I actually enjoy. I used to save this kind of work up when I was manager, and then do it all in one bunch with my office door closed, the blinds down, listening to U2 as loud as I dared.
Also, part of my job responsibilities include making coffee, feeding birds and changing menus. Ah, the delight of lots of little nothings to take up one's time.
I left work early, due to the pain increasing. I did some shopping and tonight I ended up eating the almost obligatory pint of Ben and Jerry's, while watching "The Great Gatsby." Still haven't bawled my eyes out yet. I just hope it doesn't happen at work, that would make answering the phone most inconvenient.
Oh, I want to say thank you so much to you kind ladies who had such comforting words to say. Thank you. If it wasn't for this online community, I don't know what I would do with myself. Seriously.
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