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June 5th, 2012

7 Things Meme--day the first

*Comment to this post [and specifically ask for a list] and I will pick seven things I would like you to talk about. They might make sense or be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.*

baronernst gave me these as my seven words:

Popcorn Books

Taking a page from my friend Ben, I'm going to do them one at a time.

This is tricky. Which kind--physical, mental, emotional, spiritual? Are they really different? That could be a whole series of journal entries all in itself. So, I'll take it in parts.

Physical pain
One of my earliest memories is of laying in my bed, late at night, and my mother rubbing my legs. I was laying on my stomach, my eyes brimmed with tears, wanting the pain to stop, wanting to sleep. The doctors told my mother it was "growing pains" and "dance classes will help." So was born my first love, my first dream--to be a ballerina, because Momma took me to dance classes--and I was good.

And the doctor was right on one score--it did strengthen my legs, which he thought might be part of the problem. But the pain continued. And so did the dancing. Until we moved. It lasted about a year, but soon Daddy got tired of getting up on Saturday mornings to take me to dancing class. Momma got me up, got me dressed, but we just couldn't get him out of bed more than half the time. So, ultimately, the dance teacher told my mother I was no longer a student at the school.

Having legs that hurt became a background noise to every day. I was told I was lazy--if I did more they wouldn't hurt. I was told I was fat (I was not svelte after 3rd grade, though by today's standards I wasn't heavy at all if the children I see in stores is a gauge), and that's why my legs hurt. Whatever. I sucked at gym, but give me a marching band, a show, and I was out there running, and kicking, and whatever it took. Did I mention "kicking"--as in "high kicks," as in Can-Can kicks? Yeah. Those.

When I was 15 we were doing Carnival in our local community theatre. I was a "Card Girl" and part of the chorus, which meant the chorus line. We were rehearsing, I was kicking, and felt something..."click." Not the good kind. Maybe I should have warmed up first, maybe nothing would have changed it. By the next day I was limping because I was having trouble picking my foot up. By that fall I had to walk with a cane. I spent most of the next 10 years with one. And pain. Debilitating, horrible pain. Where sleeping is out of the question. Where sitting is torture. Where pulling open a door brings tears to the eye and causes spots to dance before them, as prelude to falling into unconsciousness from the pain--which I don't know why I ever fought, since it would have meant at least a moment or two of relief.

But I was young, and no one really took it all that seriously. And my parents were a bit distracted, what with my brother being rather the center of attention since he was dying in slow, excruciating stages.

Once I got a job, and health insurance (thank you, Syracuse University), and some gumption, I went to an orthopedist, who sent me to a neurologist. They found out what was wrong, but said (and still say), that the odds of fixing it are not as good as the odds trying to fix it will cause paralysis. So I persevered.

And then there was the "girl pain." The "doubled-up in bed can't move" variety. And when that hit at the same time as the other peaked I, to this day, don't know how I avoided even thinking about blowing my brains out so it would all stop. That "pain tells you you're alive" crap is just that--crap. It tells you you're in pain, that you're broken, and that breathing is the hardest thing you've ever done. And you. keep. on. breathing. You don't let your body control your life, you get the hell out of bed, and go and teach your classes, and take notes in your grad school courses, and get the damn Mid-York Weekly out on time because the boss is on vacation and it's your JOB!

As time went on, by my 30s, I was in brain numbing pain most of the time. And along the way I alienated people, or did things that led them to think I was a whiny little entitled caricature from some novel, because people in pain are often, despite the best of intentions, not very nice to be around. It's not an excuse--it's just a fact.

And then my womb tried to kill me. And we made it GO AWAY.

And my back got better.

It's now no worse than it was in my teens and 20s. Which means it hurts every day. Which means I'm doing a careful balancing act between the pain in my back and the pain in my stomach from the NSAIDS. It means sitting hurts, and bending is a challenge. And walking is a careful piece of stagecraft where I try to give an appearance of normalcy to my locomotion, when in fact I don't walk like other people do since I'm partially paralyzed from the hip down on the right, and have been since 1973. But all the world's a stage, you see, and we are merely players, who strut and fret our hour and are gone, so the acting isn't really all that special.

Pain isn't all that special. I really can't imagine life without it. Perhaps it's a failure of imagination.

(And now you know why I'm only doing one at a time--hell, I've got the other varieties of pain to get through yet!;-))