Anatomy of Pain (Ouchie and Trigger Warning)

My first thought as I woke up this morning was “Ouchie…” I curled up into myself and tried to remember how to breathe. My over exposure to rapid heating yesterday left me as I knew it would, so I forced myself to move, get a drink, take the pill, and now I must sit and wait. I realize this is in a way self inflicted, though I had no way of knowing we would have a thirty degree temperature spike in two hours, and I still got a need met by the flea market that mentally balances out this pain. My fifty dollar jar opener, brand new does not quite trump this pain but I did get another hat, and hats at this time are extremely pleasing to me. I also got the honey I had saved up for passing up some other wants. Wants that are just wants. I have no space for them at this time.So I am going to dissect how pain feels in my body, maybe this will help me explain to my doctors that this is my normal before medication, and the worseness of pain comes only through unforseen things like the sun shining or a rain drop falling. If it were up to me I would live my life fully indoors, but mentally I cannot do that.

The physical aspect of the pain that I feel when I first wake up is not in a single area then blooming out but is instead a throbbing river that is flowing out of me into the world. I feel it flowing from every part of me. My hands, my feet, my chest. I always wake up with chest pains, but the Cardiologist proved this is just my normal because sometimes I have muscle spasms in my heart and always when waking. Medically this isn’t as very bad as it sounds but it still scares me. He wanted to write a study on me, because it’s just another rare thing that almost is never seen. I can live with this for years, but it worries me that I may miss actual danger signs because I am used to spasms in the muscles in and around the heart that are not actually effecting the beat and hurt like hell.

After the flow of the river come the explosions. This is when I try to move to see just how long I have to wait before I pee. This morning I could move immediately, for me this is rare and always more painful. I lay there for a bit longer anyway, trying to coordinate my breathing, because my body wants to scream. My brain learned long ago to not scream and though this was a product of torture, I do not think this is a bad thing or I would scream constantly. I would not be able to tell my doctors “I have ouch here, and here and here, oh don’t miss my skeleton, or muscles, or nerves!” I wouldn’t be able to think. I would just scream. Especially when moving makes an explosion. Explosive pain is when it spikes up and impales you, that’s stabbing some might say but the exact sensation explodes out of me, through my joints usually. I have a constant explosion of pain in my right hip because of falling and breaking it four years ago now. It will never heal, so I am used to that. The other constant explosion isn’t just that but is an all pain center, my back. We;ll address that later. Every joint when I move through the day explodes for me. The pain medicine doesn’t actually take this away, it just lets me not care.

I am on my feet now, sometimes I fall at this stage if I move too soon, it’s been years since I actually did fall. I always wobble, my joints all snap into place and for a moment the river flows more freely and sometimes I make squeaking sounds. Sprite always yowls at me to get back in bed, her fall warning. She and I both know I won’t at this point because if I do I will wet myself. I have twenty seconds to coordinate the muscles from my belly button down or I do anyway. I have thirty seconds, that overlap that to walk to the toilet. This part I would say the pain is like sandpaper on my soul. Everything at once seems to burn. Sometimes I cannot stop the crying inside with this. I don’t cry on the outside with this pain out of practice, and sometimes I wish I could just wail and cry. Instead I mentally think and visualize my legs moving, and myself breathing. I must see both. I don’t bother with my glasses unless it’s a new place and then things are more hurried. I have walked this path so many times I go. I let myself sit and try to not cry because once I sit on the toilet my muscles all spasm, the signals all confused.

It takes me ten minutes to get back up. I use my walker, which I find amusing at times. This walker was my legs for two years, my blatant attempt to flout my own needs. This walker was my fight, this walker was my pride, and it is a reminder of my ignorance about what disabled means. This walker did keep me alive for many years and it shows it. The paint has holes in it, not just to the under coat, not to the primer but you can see the base metal. The shiny red made hearts of silver. Sprite sits beneath it and yowls at me to get my meds. Once I am upright I go back for my glasses. Most of the time the pain or whatever it is that makes it where I can barely see and can’t read paper makes the world so fuzzy. Even as I write this only one eye is focusing, and this is getting worse over time. Each day I see less. It is so clear to me how little I see that sometimes I just sit with my eyes closed after making it to my wheelchair.

The anatomy of my pain changed with the wheels. Instead of choosing between bed or couch to sit on I have something to help me either dam parts of the river or at least change it’s path. I curl up in the chair after pulling on something to wear. The fabric on my skin makes me burn, always. It is worse with some fabrics, so now I only have things that feel good. I only wear things that I can tolerate except on my worst days. My nerves scream at me for daring to cover the skin on my body. I buckle into my chair and carefully steer it out of the corner it is parked in while I sleep. I move for drink, I sip it and the burning of drinking makes me have to pause for air again. It doesn’t matter what I drink, it all burns. Some things just burn less and don’t end with me vomiting up my medicine. I take the tiny white pill of freedom and drive over to a spot and sit to wait. I tilt back, I stretch out I curl up. I just wait.

Every pain, the exploding pain, the stabbing pain, the throbbing pain, it has me on standby. If the pain doesn’t clear up by the time a half an hour has passed I am in trouble. I call these pain days. This is when the stabbing pain is acknowledged. I ignore it as long as I can. It lines up with my diaphragm. It is there with each breath. I Can feel the broken bones that won’t heal in my back. I feel them grinding, I feel the pinched flesh around and between them. Each movement that makes my back muscles move ends with a sharp stab. Sometimes when my PTSD is too strong I see my father there, I feel him hugging me and stabbing at me like he used to. The reason I don’t hug is there. Hugs are the same as being stabbed in the back. The stabbing pain also hits elsewhere at times but only is it a constant and regular thing in my back and on bad days my hip. The rest is unknown, it can hit a shoulder or a knee or a non joint but those are much more rare.

So I breathe, and wait. I thas been the half an hour and today IS a pain day. I am going to curl up in my bed, and I am going to try and let the pain disappate further. I have no choice. It is bed or crying, and if I cry my face gets wet and that burns very much. The anatomy of pain follows my body, it rules my day. Pain is truly what I see as disabling me. Not water, not the sun, not broken bones but pain.

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1 Comment

  1. (Trigger warning)

    I think the most profound thing you have said to me, so far, is “I am a rogue agent in the cycle of abuse”. Abuse reshapes your soul to either be sheep or wolf, the abused or the abusee. My grandparents, my parents, my older brothers and sisters, all got the same “training” I did to avoid being harmed by being the harmer, but I stepped out of the cycle.

    When I read about the pain you are in, emotional and physical, the wolf wakes up. I want to find the abusers and abuse them. You are not my only friend who carries scars on her body and soul from abuse. I want to find people, and choke them. I want to see in their eyes the look they have so frequently caused in others: the moment when one realizes no fight, no strategy, no inner strength, no god, no anything, will save one…only the whim of the abuser.

    I know that’s wrong…so I push those thoughts away. Now I have to fight the sheep. the first thing the sheep mindset says is what you describe is only horrible if its true. If you are lying to get attention, then you become someone lying to get attention. That’s disturbing of course, not nearly so disturbing as the truth of what happened to you. It’s so much easier to believe a woman was only abused enough to lie about the abuse, and not so abused as to be accurately describing its toll on her. Then, the second part of the sheep mindset…well even those parts that are true aren’t that bad…because abuse makes you stronger!

    And with a snap, I’ve minimalized your pain, and said you are lucky to have it. All three ways, I’m agreeing with the abuser: (1.) Abuse is a good way to motivate people. (2.) It’s the victims moral flaw and not the abuser’s. (3.) It’s good for victim anyway.

    How do I step out of the cycle on this one, Kat? If I start crying for all the abuse in the world, I’ll never stop crying again. (Ultimately, I think I don’t cry for the same reason you don’t scream…no compelling reason to stop.) How am I supposed to feel? What should I do? How do you need me, an able bodied, white male, to respond to you?


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