On Illness, No. 1

My pain is a blunt-toothed dragon
one of those Chinese lion-heads
whose gaping maw grasps my right hip
not tearing, exactly, more just holding on
tail wrapped around my waist just tight
enough that it doesn’t dislodge the scorpion
sleeping above my lower spine.

One slip and its stinger stabs lightning
down my leg pinned to the floor
afraid to move again until they sleep
Until they curl up again and close their eyes
close my eyes and pray to empty space
pray to the Gods
Cyclobenzaprine Tramadol Zolmitriptan Verapamil
and the Goddess Ambien for sleep
my sleep and theirs

Draft 21 April 2015

I have not posted the past few days because I have been experiencing another cluster migraine and some other musculoskeletal pain (now it’s my neck, making it hard to write or type for any length of time).

A friend with RA posted this New Yorker article “What’s Wrong with Me?” by a woman with an autoimmune disorder, which thankfully right now I don’t seem to have. Another friend who has MS writes often of her struggles–while trying to raise what she calls her “spirited child.”

Chronic pain is invisible. People who have never had a migraine or arthritis (at a young age–mine started in my mid-20s) or other forms of neuropathy can look at us and say that we don’t “look sick”–after all, I have bright brown eyes and a head full of shiny curly brown hair. I don’t even exercise, to quote Fezzik (Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride).

I’m seeing a neurologist and I am on enough pills that I might as well be 70 instead of 44. Next up is an attempt at chiropractic care.

All I know is that being in pain all the time makes me tired, and makes it harder to do my job. Add in a bunch of other stuff outside my locus of control (like the state budget and how much of a paycut I’m likely going to have to take next year) and you have a recipe for major depression, which I have somehow up to now mostly avoided. I only have one more month of classes left.

And I have hesitated to write about pain, my pain–that somehow I’m not in enough pain to write about it–but I think it’s about time I start.

Just the half an hour I have worked on this blog entry has been enough to set things off again. I don’t know how I am going to keep working. The Gods above only know how I can keep working, and even they know that they are the Gods of sleep and rest and lack of will.


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