Monday, January 14, 2013


One of the difficult things about living with disease is the lack of control you sometimes have over your body. Ninety percent of the time I feel pretty good anymore. But occasionally pain will come out of nowhere. These days it is not more than moderate and often easily dealt with by getting comfortable, taking some pain medication and relaxing while it passes. But every once in a while, the pain is more severe and completely hijacks me. There is no precedence for it, no apparent reason for it, no clear explanation for it. Not counting the week or two directly following my last two surgeries in November, I haven't had any serious pain for a few months now. Until this Saturday.

I had wonderful plans to go to Chicago with several of my girlfriends for the day. Got up and ready and headed out like any normal morning. Not long after arriving at my friend's house I started to have some just-past-mild lower back pain. After about fifteen minutes of judging it, I decided to take one prescription pain pill, assuming that would take care of it within half an hour or so and all would be good. Twenty minutes later we were in the car and headed out for our lovely day. Less than ten minutes later I had a pain heat flush and needed to stop and throw up on the side of the road. I assumed that this was the worst of things and the pain meds would start to help any time now. Within five minutes I decided that another pain pill would possibly help and informed my car partner that I would likely end up napping most of the way into the city. The pain continued to ramp up, and fifteen minutes later down the road I realized that going back home was my best option. Without going into the details, let's just say that the pain was pretty severe and I worried the hell out of my friends. It took about half an hour more for the pain pills to dull the pain a bit. By then I was home. I crawled into bed and ended up in a four hour nap.

When I awoke the pain was mostly gone, just the shadow of a low, dull ache. But moving around the house I realized that I felt as if at the end of a fourteen hour day, utterly exhausted. It is amazing, and humbling, how much pain can take out of you. I had exerted hardly any effort all day, had actually slept more hours than I'd been awake, and yet it was more than half over and physically I was crushingly tired. As the evening came on, the shadow of pain dissipated and Sunday everything was back to normal again.

There is no telling why pain decided to claim my day. I've had an MRI of my lower back and a multiplicity of CT and PET scans of my torso. There's nothing down there. I have had to learn to accept that pain is just part of the disease and the treatment sometimes. I don't get absurdly worried or contemplative about it. I am very good at just allowing pain its visit and breathing through the ordeal. The best feeling is waking up from those post-visit naps and realizing that its gone. I smile and sigh and stretch and am thankful.

I typed about half of this post one-handed while holding my 8-day old nephew in my lap for a post-nursing nap. I'll be at my sister's this week helping out and bonding with the little guy. As a night owl I will be taking the later night shift and letting my sister and her husband work on their sleep deficit. There is something very beautiful and peaceful about watching an infant sleep. It certainly makes it easy to sit fully in the moment. Yesterday (Saturday) may have been a difficult day, but today is certainly better. And it's the now that matters.

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