Today I'll be spending a chunk of the day with Dr. Painless. You remember Dr. Painless, right? He's the one who gave me my bionic arm.
I have to tell you up front, Dr. Painless is a nice guy. He really is.
I dread every time I have to see him.
It isn't him, of course, it's me.
I spend most of my time, particularly when I'm around other people, acting as if everything is just fine.
Yes, I still wake up regularly from nightmares of screeching tires and metal screaming.
Yes, I live with severe chronic pain.
Yes, I lost the use of my dominant arm.
Yes, I'm filled with metal and wires and electrodes –
But isn't life grand, anyway?
Also, hey look –
I took a pretty picture with only one fully functioning arm!
I may have to slip away to my hotel room at a conference for an hour or two when no one is looking though. If you find me I'll likely be in my room, doubled over on the floor in pain with tears streaming down my face …
But you'll never see that.
You might read a tweet saying, "Bad pain flare up," to explain my absence though.
You might see another tweet saying, "Extra pain meds tonight – whee!"
But, in fact …
There's no "whee" to it.
Pain is an awful, ugly, living, demon, creature - that's the truth of it. It will strangle the life out of you if you don't fight against it with everything you've got.
And oh, the energy just to fight it.
Sometimes, I just want to give up because it's so exhausting to fight this battle every moment of every day.
When I'm with Dr. Painless, it's Reality Time.
There's no bullshitting, there's no pulling punches, there's no denial.
(I've become such an expert at denial ….)
When I'm with Dr. Painless, he's very open and blunt about reality.
Conversations with him always surprise me like a sharp slap in the face.
No more pretending,
Just full, out-right acknowledgment, this sucks.
It has sucked for five years and it is always going to suck.
Is there any way we can make it suck a little less?
Dr. Painless learned quickly not to soften the harshness of reality with me. I suppose that's the most effective way of dealing with someone as stubborn as I am.
"Have you been able to get any fucking sleep?" he'll ask, staring deep into my eyes.
He's the only one who sees the truth.
He looks in my eyes and he stares into pools of despair.
He sees them, recognizes them, and appraises their depth.
For others, I hide the despair. I put on an act.
Aren't I strong?
Aren't I brave?
I can do anything ….
And, I'm trying very hard to live just that.
But with Dr. Painless there's reality.
The reality of pain interfering with sleep, and pain interfering with life.
The reality of a disability frustrating me and holding me back, even as I tell everyone I won't let it hold me back.
Sometimes, facing reality when I'm with Dr. Painless is too much.
I've sobbed, uncontrollably, on him before. Yes, I've done "the ugly cry" with mascara and snot running off my face onto his shirt.
I think, if I were him, I would have freaked the hell out.
Instead he just hugged me until I stopped crying and said, "This is part of it."
It is severe chronic pain.
It is permanent disability.
It is reality –
The reality "my situation" is forever …
How can that be?
I'm dreading seeing Dr. Painless today,
Seeing him, means facing the truth.
© Twenty Four At Heart