I don’t talk about being sick to complain. I talk about being sick here because, in real life, I try desperately not to dwell on this. I complain about your usual stuff, weather, the unwanted Monday, but I try not to focus on illness specifically. Thanks to my own behavior, the average person would never know the latest in terms of my body and my pain. In some ways it’s nobody else’s business and this policy works. In other ways, I feel like I have to explain myself. That feeling really kicks in when I talk about working part time.
It’s just a given that I’d be more financially secure and independent if I worked full time, so why not?
I worry that people assume that it’s laziness or for lack of trying. I worry that people feel that this is a choice. I guess in a way it’s a choice, but that’s a tricky term. When I work full time, my quality of life is such that I can’t really live. I give up so much. I’ll paint the picture.
The first time I allowed my schedule to crawl to full time after becoming sick, I was in the most pain I’ve ever experienced. It was one incident that came after months of self-neglect and denial. I remember it vividly. Before the incident, I was crying a lot, from pain. Several nights a week would end in tears. I’d get home and go to sleep. I wouldn’t do things on weekends. I’d cancel. Cry. Wince.
Everything is terrible when it’s that bad. Or this bad, presently. Driving really hurts, my ankles hurt when I brake in stop and go traffic and my wrists feel stiff holding onto the steering wheels. Brushing my teeth? Hurts. Washing my hair? Hurts. Standing after sitting, for any period of time? Hurts. Anything other than lying down? Yeah, pretty much. Now that’s always the case, everything in my life requires a dull ache. But when it’s bad, the cost is a sharp pain. Always.
Years ago this culminated in me, on the phone with my mom, sobbing walking home from work. I had to hang up because my elbow couldn’t support my phone. When I got home, I remember losing my vision, shaking in pain. At some point I fell asleep. I think it was the closest I’ve come to a 10 on the pain scale, seeing as I couldn’t see. Maybe it was a 9, but it was really really up there.
I think about that one time all of the time, since chronic pain means a pain scale is always somewhere in the back of my mind. A few times since I’ve allowed my schedule to climb too high again. Once this meant sub-luxing a shoulder without realizing it, because I was so used to the level of pain. Oops. But usually it’s not that dramatic. Usually it’s just a lot of tears and cancelled plans.
It’s happening again, right now. I’m not working full time, but my body is just adjusting poorly to the seasons. I’m busy, and I love to be busy, but my body is starting to deny me. It’s why I’m not going to the city. It’s why I have to say no to plans, occasionally. Why I scaled down my Mother’s Day efforts this year. I’m terrible at saying no. I’m terrible at staying home. I feel silly, being so frustrated by this but here I am.
Last night I burst into tears on my way home, again on the phone with my ever so patient mother. I’d been on the verge of tears all day, because when pain makes your ears ring it’s hard to keep it together. I then sat in my car crying for another 20 minutes dreading the flight of stairs between myself and my apartment. Making Myles carry my laundry upstairs for me. I loathe how pitiful this sounds, but there it is.
I’m hoping this is just a random flare. In fact, waking up with a terrible cold this morning was a huge relief. Old fashioned acute illnesses can cause flare ups in symptoms, so maybe this absolute peak of discomfort is just how my body’s decided to handle this particular cold.
I suppose this is complaining. And that’s obnoxious and so not my intention. But I have to be transparent about this because clearly, it’s going to start interfering again.
I do not like pity. This is just where I am. And I’m just letting you know.