Tuesday, December 30, 2008
When Pain Returns
These have been rough times. For the past six weeks, I've been feeling ripples of the old pain coming back. They usually slide around at a level 3 or 4, which means I can still follow a conversation and drive by myself. On some days they crescendo to a 7 or 8, which means I lay very still and try to make myself as small as possible, as if by doing so I can corral the pain into a narrower orbit.
Each day I wake up with the fervent belief that today will be the turning point. By late afternoon, I'm looking at my array of medications and debating whether I should take them in order of potency or just chug them down like a drunk doing shots. Pain will do that to you.
Richard so easily slips back into sage caretaker mode. We have been on this ride so many times that he automatically knows how to balance intrusion and distance. He also know how to ask to be invited to enter my orbit of pain, rather than clumsily assault me with volleys of helpfulness.
He will say, "Can I sit with you now or do you want to be alone?" "Do you want my help to problem solve about medication or do you want me to stay out of it?" "How do you want me to tell you if I think you are making a mistake?" And most of all, "How can I help you, my love?"
His presence, his questions anchor me to possibility, to choices that point to a realm beyond the pain. He can't actively stop me, but his steadfastness deters me from plunging into the vortex, which is always a pain spike away.
These have been rough times. But at least I am measuring this experience by time and not by eternity. I do now know that I will be helped, and I will, thankfully, find the next path out of pain.