I hurt my hip and my shoulder in the early 2000s. The injuries healed. But as it is common with injuries, some discomfort remained… Stiffness of the muscles and ache of the bones on days I hiked with a pack on my back for too many miles; spasms on weeks I got little sleep (especially if that sleep took place out in the cold and on bare ground); cramping after driving long distances… But most of the discomfort in question would subside after a good rub with arnica oil and plenty of rest.
By 2004 the discomfort became mild pain that required a couple of pain killers a week and a lot of recovery sleep. Two years later, I began having problems sitting down—the hip and shoulders began to throb often, and a pinching pain settled on the left side of my back. When 2008 arrived, I could barely sit without my left leg beginning to shake; I could do little that required the use of my right shoulder, without the latter drooping.
Today, the pain is constant: I have days when the ache is not too bad, and days when the pain keeps me at the verge of screaming. I avoid sitting, other than in my bed with just the right amount of pillows. I haven’t run in a couple of years. I can’t write longhand for more than a few minutes at a time. I don’t drive. I can’t reach across my body, carry a purse heavier than a pound or two, climb too many stairs, hold a book in front of me for too long, vacuum, carry small children on my back (the Little Princess is not amused), ride any kind of transportation without pain, and the list goes on…
I’m sharing all these in order to explain the changes you’ve probably been noticing: I started writing poems—poetry and pain dance wonderfully together, they allow each partner to look the other in the eye, and silently say, I hate you, but I love me and you’re mine… so we’ll dance. The art form is also shorter than my beloved fiction.
More changes are on the way. I’ve been setting things up, slowly and gently, as my health allows… but I never stop moving: one must never forget to move with chronic pain. I’ve made my pain part of my day. I drink my coffee with it (place my mug on a tray by my hand, so I won’t have to reach across my body). I exercise my limitations with it (write short lists and notes longhand, while pacing myself carefully). I’ve been teaching myself to delight in the bliss of the things my pain and I can do… together.
I’m trying to learn to be one with my pain. I know how silly (and terribly cliché) that sounds, but it’s the truth. I only have one body, so the pain and I must share it well.
If we are friends on Facebook or Twitter, then you already know that I just set up an Instagram account: @MagalyGuerreroInDarkerWords. This new spot will be part of my Keep Moving, Keep Enjoying the Things You Like (perhaps in smaller doses *cough*), Keep Living with Chronic Pain or It Will Kill Your Spirit.
Because that’s the thing, my Wicked Luvs, as much as chronic pain hurts, the physical agony is rarely what gets a person in the end. What offers certain destruction (if not watched carefully) is the sense of helplessness, the near loss of identity, the nudges towards alienation… the depression.
I’ve chosen to live with my chronic pain creatively: I write about it, I laugh about it, I bare my teeth at it, I cuddle on the cold floor with it, I will live with my pain. And I’m a Dominican witchy Aries Marine woman: what I say I will do, will happen… There might be some rescheduling to accommodate a bit of agony every now and then, but what’s life without a wee twist thrown into the living?