Archives for category: pain

I’m sipping my coffee. My face is wet with the tears that just keep coming. The phone call this morning was brief. Heartfelt. Tender. My sister’s resolve and her will to hold her feelings in check impress me, even as I continue to weep. We kept the call brief; no doubt she has other calls she wants to make. Neither of us like crying “out loud” in a public way, and seeing as we’re so “strong”, we manage not to cry on the phone. Much. The call ends, the tears start.

I consider not writing, but… grief isn’t an everyday experience. I already feel… shattered. This, in spite of knowing it was imminent, in spite of being “well-prepared”, in spite of speaking gently and explicitly with my Mother, herself, about this moment, frankly, compassionately, honestly… in spite of spending yesterday well-supported by a loving and concerned partner… nonetheless; I am crying. Routines are something I can fall back on to hold life together, until… something.

“This, too, shall pass.” (I know, I know – I fucking know that, now knock that shit off, while I shed these honest tears for the passing of a complex woman, who gave me life. I’ll be okay, just not… right now, exactly.)

…Anyway. No idea how this amount of grief may affect my writing. I’m glad you are here. I hope you are well. Maybe I write a lot more than usual over the next several days? Maybe I find myself unable to lift my hands to type words in row at all. I don’t even know. I guess we’ll find out together, eh?

It’ll be okay. I reflexively offer myself all the comforting platitudes I can find. “We are mortal creatures.” (That’s a very real observation, at the moment. Painfully real. It offers no particular comfort. Perhaps it will later…?) It’s not really helpful, and I let it go.

…I don’t really know what else to do. So… I begin again.

The text this morning was to the point, although not as abrupt as I imply in the title of this post. I feel grateful that my sister is right there, with our Mother. For a moment, I imagine this stern, strong, witty woman who raised me, pushing her chair back from a crowded card table, folding a less than ideal hand, and heading into the kitchen to refresh drinks. That memory is of a lifetime ago, in a far away place, disconnected from my experience of “here” and “now”. Do I want her to “hear my voice”? “Non-responsive” doesn’t sound like she’s likely to register voices… we’ve spoken recently, and regularly – is it enough?

…We don’t have a “Book of the Dead”, in our culture… It’s a strange random thought, a forerunner to intense grief.

There are tears in my eyes. I resent them; it’s too soon. Life stretches ahead of me, while I reach my thoughts – and my heart – across great distance. Imagining her as I remember her best; in her late 30s, in her early 40s. Strong. Determined. No bullshit. Rapier wit. Iron will. I observe the characteristics in myself that I most likely got from her; my tenacious loyalty. My intellect. My commitment to being a good provider. My reluctance to walk away from a bad decision. My willingness to hide my emotions for far too long. My laugh. That same laugh that her Mother had, too. I hear Granny’s laugh in my recollection. I feel, for a moment, my Mother’s warmth – like summertime in my heart. I sip my coffee and celebrate this woman who made me.

…Grieving comes soon enough. It’s important to examine those cherished moments as treasures, with great delight, and excessive merriment, and not allow the tears to wash those away. They matter so much more than the tears ever could.

Life didn’t have a map – you did okay with that, Mom. No reason to expect death to be more difficult to master; in a sense, we prepare for it all our lives, don’t we? Striving, clinging – and learning to let go. Good fold, Mom. Safe travels.

You are part of me. My journey began with you.

I sit quietly with my coffee, remembering life with my Mom. My “origin story”. Some details are fuzzy, others crystal clear. Some moments remain painful to this day, others bring me immediate joy when I recall them. One thing is certain; she will not be forgotten. Tears later. Coffee now. I wish she were sitting here, sharing that with me, right now; I have so much to ask, and now there is no time… 

I woke up easily this morning, a nice change from yesterday. Rather oddly, I woke with the whisper of a dream left behind still resonating in my consciousness. Words lingered, although I could no longer recall the dream. “You’re not the good guy, here.” And, “This isn’t about you, at all.” Interesting observations, suitable for many occasions – but I don’t have any context. The dream had already faded.

I’m not “the good guy” here, though, I’m sure of that; I’m a human being, living my life. Only that. Sure, I like to think I am doing my best. Sometimes I actually am. By many practical measures, it isn’t always the case, though; I could sometimes do more, better. That’s real, and very human.

This isn’t about me, at all. Well, much of it is not, that’s also quite true. Most of it, maybe. Like, seriously, almost any detail of any moment I can be present for, still just isn’t much “about” me. I’m here, living and being, and (in this case) drinking coffee…and even this moment, right here, early in the pre-dawn gloom, isn’t much “about” me. It’s about a typical Thursday morning. It’s about this cup of coffee, and this handful of words. It’s about this headache. It’s about the morning traffic, and the sound of little birds in the hedge beyond the window. I’m such a small part of this moment – and not in any “bad” or diminishing way. It’s just that there is so much more to… all of it. I’m just one consciousness present in this here-and-now. Taken in the larger context of “everything else”, my breath, and my very life force, are minuscule. That’s okay, too; there’s a lot of life to live, and a lot of details to take in. If I spend all of my energy on my small concerns, I’ll miss a lot of other stuff. lol

I stop drinking coffee long enough to meditate. Nice morning for it. Today, it does nothing for the headache. I hadn’t seriously expected that it would, but sometimes it does. If nothing else, it often gives me perspective on life that makes it seem of less consequence.

…I realize rather abruptly that I’d forgotten to take my morning medication when I got up. I go ahead and do that, once I’ve poked around in my recollection of the morning a bit, trying to be sure I’m correct about that (doesn’t do anything good for me to take it twice, I promise you that!) – I wash it down with coffee, feeling vaguely guilty about doing that (it’s supposed to be taken with a glass of water…). I let that petty shit go.

My body is uncomfortable, this morning. This fucking headache. Why do I call it a headache, I wonder? It is also a terrible bit of pain in my neck, and a weird jabby stabby sensation in my ear when I turn my head, sometimes, and also a rather horrible permanently cramped up trapezius, particularly painful along the top, from my neck to my shoulder. These pains all feel related to each other, and nothing much helps, so far. I think I would endure it more easily if I knew what the problem is. I’ve been in significant pain since about 1990, when my osteo arthritis developed, I don’t really expect to ever be entirely “pain free” again in my life… I do my best to care for this fragile vessel skillfully, and ease the pain as much as I am able to without poisoning myself or wrecking my health in some other way. It could be worse. I’d just like an answer to the question “what the fuck??”

Fuck. A glance at the clock reminds me of the work day ahead. Pain and employment are not really the best-ever combination of experiences, and it requires so much to stay ahead of the irritability, the distraction, and the misery of it. I breathe. I let it go. We all walk our own hard mile. We’re each having our own experience. Unavoidably, the pain I live with is the worst pain I can imagine; it’s what I know. Each one of us has our own challenge, and I am certain I have coworkers whose pain is more severe, whose life contains more chaos, who woke this morning frightened, or sad, or angry, or needing a moment of support and consideration. I can, if nothing else, do my best not to add to any of that, myself, and to be considerate, thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. I can, at least, try. Another breath. Another sip of coffee. Another moment to consider how fortunate I am to be mostly fairly healthy, all things considered, and to live with pain that doesn’t debilitate me to the point that I can’t work at all. It could be so much worse.

…Fuck this headache, though! Neck-ache? Whatever. Fuck all of that painful nastiness.

It’s time to begin again. I’ve got to work with “the materials on hand” in this life, and unfortunately, pain is a thing. I breathe through it, finish my coffee, and turn to face the day as the sun rises. 🙂

Well…actually, no. I woke up in pain this morning, just like I went to bed in pain last night. I’m still smiling, still mostly merry, and definitely not taking it personally, at this present moment, which is a pleasant detail. The peculiar pre-dawn gloom has begun to lift, and even though it’s not yet 5:00 am, there is sufficient light to see the garden. I take my coffee on the deck, and spend a few minutes listening to birdsong and breezes, before the commuter traffic begins to take over.

…Soon enough, a new work day will begin…

The blue skies aren’t my doing; how I choose to face the day, is.

I sip my coffee and sigh contentedly. Another day ahead. I’m good with that. 🙂 I take a moment for meditation, less out of any hope of significant pain relief, more about being emotionally well for the day ahead. Yesterday was a long day, and by the end I was struggling to manage my pain, and very happy to get home. I’m back to having a pretty steady motherfucker of a headache, on top of my arthritis pain, in addition to my torn up ankle… still have to work, still have to stand up to the day-to-day. Hell, even if I didn’t work full-time, I’d be having to tackle the effort involved in routine self-care. LOL Aging sucks.

…It’s better than the only currently available alternative, though, right? 😉 I take a moment for gratitude.

A quiet moment passes. Breathing in. Breathing out. Letting go of the clinging and bullshit attachments. Another breath. Another moment. Another sip of my coffee.

Yesterday’s sunshine has a lingering effect; I find it in my smile, in a relaxed moment.

I remind myself not to leave my cane behind as I prepare for the day. Still yawning, still rubbing sleep out of my eyes, still reminiscing about the rather shitty night’s sleep just behind me, and the long work day ahead; it’ll feel long, regardless, that’s how pain works, and I’ve yielded to it before the day has begun. I shake it off, and let that shit go. I remind myself to speak gently, and be mindful we are each having our own experience – pain isn’t unique to my experience. We could all use a bit of kindness.

There’s quite a bit to be learned from yesterday’s experience. This morning, I find myself present in this moment, here, and I’m okay with that. I quash that weird “what am I forgetting to do??” sensation as likely just an illusory disruption in my senses, and I move on from that, too. I take some deep breaths, and make a point of just… letting shit go. This? I let it go. That? Yep, that, too, I let that go. Over there? Oh, hell, yes. Gone. 🙂

…Another breath. A glance at the clock. I finish my coffee; it’s time to begin again. 😀

Initially, I wrote it off as coincidental; the rise of negativity, the more intense emotionality, the unpredictable temperament, while it could have been the new Rx… why would I assume it necessarily was? I mean… I’ve got issues. lol Then, my Traveling Partner noticed, largely by way of being hit with an unhealthy dose of it on the receiving end. Then, a couple of friends noticed it – one of them by way of the negative affect of my posture, and facial expressions. Oh. Hell. No. I am not putting myself through that. I’d only been on it a handful of weeks, and already struggling with nightmares, weird shifts in mood and/or perspective, and a powerful (slow) spiraling negativity that was definitely worsening. I follow up with appointment making, and begin to taper off of the new Rx, (after getting some relief, but not nearly enough to make the trade-offs worth it).

…24 hours later, the bleak gray “certainties” that had been rapidly becoming my perspective began to lift. Yesterday was a lovely day, and it was easy to enjoy, and the smile on my face felt real, not forced, and although I’m dealing with pain, this is me… dealing with it. So. Some better. Much better. Pain sucks, but pain along with feelings of muted despair, terrible mocking nightmares, and moody bullshit…? Worse.

I didn’t write over the weekend. I was definitely aware that my thinking and emotions were increasingly colored by this prescribed, regulated, managed, and also notably not working out well for me, personally, prescription drug experience. (I was definitely “on drugs” – which happens to any one of us far more often at the hands of a physician than a street dealer!) I’d ideally rather not drag everyone else into the muck with me. Making the choice to recognize and act upon the problematic symptoms sooner than later is merely a byproduct of being well-supported in my relationships, and having already experienced the outcome of excessive trust placed in someone else’s judgement over my own first hand knowledge, of my own first person experience. Seriously, though, if you’re on a medication with a problematic effect, please talk to your doctor – don’t just quit! Some drugs have a very particular or difficult withdrawal effect, and you’d want to be supported properly with appropriate care. 🙂

I woke easily, this morning, no nightmares chasing me. The alarm was unwelcome, and honestly, I expect this on a Monday morning after a lovely weekend; I’d rather stay home, in the garden, enjoying another coffee, and hanging out with my Traveling Partner, or a friend, or the squirrels and chipmunks if everyone else is busy. 🙂 Not gonna lie; I think work is highly over-rated. Still, it gives a certain structure (and cash-flow) to my day-to-day experience. 😉

So, it’s a routine Monday, after all that, following a lovely weekend of sunny days, gardening, and running errands. I’m sipping coffee, and looking ahead to the work week. I have the thought that it will be a busy one. Then I wonder about the impact of the Google outage… holy shit a lot of everyday life goes through the internet somewhere, these days. I sit with that thought for a moment, feeling grateful I don’t have all my household electronics controlled by way of an internet connected device. I actually didn’t notice there’d been an outage until my Traveling Partner read about it on the news. lol We were contentedly busy being people, in real life. Most enjoyable. 🙂

I look at the clock. Yep. Choices. Every choice I make is a whole new beginning. From the small things like “shall I have another coffee?” to the bigger things like “who am I and how do I want to live?” – the answers send my experience along a new path. I grow. I become. Journey-as-metaphor works, because it’s just so close to accurately describing what life, experienced along a timeline, is really like. There’s still no map… but these are my own choices, nonetheless. 🙂 I become what I practice, and it’s time, already, to begin again.