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.


Mark Weissberg said...

To paraphrase Jack Crabb's Indian grandfather in Little Big Man . . . As sure as grass grows and wind blows and skies are blue, I, too, know you'll be fine again, and hopefully very soon.

Barbara K. said...

a kind friend sent me the following in an email after she read this post:

I am so sorry that you are in a period of increased pain. I know how awful the ups and downs are, and what a challenge it is to keep calm, keep breathing, and keep moving forward. I send you every good wish for this hard time to pass quickly. When I am going through difficult times, I often think about your comment some years ago about passing through narrow places in order to come out into the light. I wish you a place of light very soon.

Barbara K. said...

Thank you Mark and Kind Friend. Your hope for me strengthens my hope.

Chuck E. said...

Two weeks ago you came to my house with wine and love and understanding. You sat with me and listened so hard that after a while I felt you resonating with me. You made my foe your foe, ultimately offering to beat up my sister.
When you departed I felt relieved of part of my burden.
I so love what you did for me, Barbara. I wish that I could take over your pain now so that you could go skipping.