Happiness Is … Never a Clear-cut Deal

It's that time of year again.

We had temperatures in the 80's and 90's (27-33C) last weekend.

I heated up the pool to shake the winter chill out of it, and instantly my mood soared.

I love to swim.

Love!

My arm feels a little more normal in the water.  The water lifts my arm for me, something I can't do on my own.  I can't swim like a "normal" person can, but I've learned to swim in a modified fashion.

It makes me so happy.

I only allowed myself to swim a few laps this first weekend.  I have to begin each swim season very, very, slowly.  Otherwise, I pay the price with crippling pain.  I don't want to spend a couple weeks recovering from every attempt I make.

And to be honest, even though I only swam a few laps, my pain is gut wrenching right now.

But it's okay …

It really is.

I know I can do it.

I just have to be patient and force myself to go slowly.

By the end of the summer I'll be able to do so much more.

For today, I'll pop a couple pain pills.

I'll turn the electrodes up in my bionic arm.

I'm seeing Dr. Painless in about a week to update my medications and review The.State.Of.My.Arm.  I might need to switch to a stronger pain med.  Which is better?  Taking more of what I've got (which is damn strong to start with) … or less of a stronger drug?  These are the type of questions I need Dr. Painless to answer.

The type of pain I experience (whenever I actually attempt to use my arm) … is such an intense, breathtaking, horrible, sickening pain.

Really, there are no words to describe it.

We all experience physical pain sometime in our life.  Many people even experience severe pain.

But this type of pain?

It's reserved for just a few of us.

Breathing takes effort.

Concentrate.

Breathe in very slowly.

Breathe out very slowly.

Concentrate.

Begin again.

It's something The Torturer used to work on with me.  Because the natural instinct with pain like this is to hold your breath.  It sounds crazy, doesn't it?  But breathing … just the slight movement of breathing … hurts.  

And so I find myself forgetting to breathe.  And then gasping.

Gasping for air, and gasping in pain.

I just have to forge on …

Because it's worth it.

Swimming is worth it.  I love swimming.  

Swimming makes me so happy.

Photography is worth it.  I love photography.  

Photography makes me so happy.

Living my life means making it as normal of a life as I can.

Being truly alive means fighting to do the things I love – despite the pain they cause.

Remind me to re-read these words the next time I curl up in a ball whimpering, having a pity party.

Okay?

Promise?

© Twenty Four At Heart

9 Responses to “Happiness Is … Never a Clear-cut Deal”

  1. Maggie

    I promise!
    I can’t even begin to imagine the pain you deal with every day. I can only hope that someday, someone will come up with something to make it better. 🙁

  2. Kristen

    It is heart wrenching to read the description of your pain. It makes me cringe and want to cry for you. The fact that you continue to fight for what you love to do is so inspiring. YOU are an inspiration, Suzanne. Keep fighting, keep pushing!

  3. Serial Swooper

    My father (who is and always has been an athlete) has an implanted defibrillator. Despite the fact that the thing goes OFF (which he describes as getting hit in the chest with a baseball bat), he continues to exercise like a mad man. He’d rather the PAIN of the box going off than the WORSE pain of being inactive. I liken that to your choices with swimming and photography. Others probably can’t understand why you (and my Dad) make the choices you do but when your heart soars doing the things you love….you know.
    Hang in there.

  4. Pam

    I truly cannot imagine the pain you are going through, where it hurts to breathe. I’m thinking of you and hope you can slowly get back into the pool and enjoy yourself. I would imagine that during baseball season, your arm is worked half to death, so hopefully the pool will help!
    Take care 24!

  5. Kelly

    You make me into a stronger, better, person. You are so brave and strong.

  6. karen

    Doing the things you love despite the battle – that’s really living. And I can’t believe with all the specialists you’ve seen, they can’t come up with a pain management plan that gives you real relief!
    Ugh.

  7. Alexis (Minnesota)

    I spend an awful lot of time on my medicals sitting as close to people’s ears as I can (while trying to be respectful of the whole personal space thing) yet whispering in their ear “long slow breath in….blow out like you’re blowing a candle…..long slow breath in….blow out like you’re blowing a candle”. It helps them focus on something other than their pain and also reminds them to stop holding their breath. Without the air we breathe we truly have nothing.
    An aside, they always tell us we’re supposed to ask the patient to “rate their pain on a level from one to ten” (presumably in an attempt to gauge any change in pain level). It’s one of the stupidest things I do at medicals I think and this cartoon just about captures it http://xkcd.com/883/
    How it’s a lesser-pain day for you girl!!! Swim on!

  8. Cheetra

    I hope for the best. Continue to do what you do you best. =)

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