by Azlynn Brandenburg
The body keeps the score, but mine has lost count. Somewhere along the way, a tally was missed, a line of four mistakenly slashed by a fifth, and a numbness followed that seemed to stretch on forever. The doctors don’t tell you about this, about the familiarity of pain, about how close you will come with pain. Instead, they prescribe some medication with a long list of side effects, and send you on your way with a new diagnosis to permanently etch into your Google search history.
Bookmark these tabs:
- Hulu | Watch – Love Island
- Celiac Disease – Diagnosis and Treatment
- Hypothyroidism – Diagnosis and Treatment
- Amazon.com Shopping Cart – Pill Container
- Small Nerve Neuropathy – Diagnosis and Treatment
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – Diagnosis and Treatment
- reddit.com – r/ChronicPain
- Gastroparesis – Diagnosis and Treatment
- 9 Ways to Combat Fatigue
- Is this illness all in my head?
And then you’ll run out of space in your bookmark tab.
They don’t tell you how familiar the pain will become, that it will become part of your days, your months, your years; everything in your life accommodates this pain, moves around this pain. You become the pain and you do everything in your power to avoid the persistent ache that takes and takes and takes.
That is what chronic pain does. It takes. And though it’s humiliating, you will accept this, because there’s nothing left to do.
A body so brittle,
What am I to do with a body that breaks when it bends?
This sickness does not just happen. It is not sudden. Aware of the life it stalks, it waits. It waits for you to forget to lock the door at night before going to bed. It waits until you are unmindful, comfortable in between your silk-satin sheets, and it begins to rearrange the furniture, piece by piece. All day, it sits, patiently waiting behind your closet doors, waiting for you to fall asleep; it moves one chair, breaks one light, takes the batteries out of your remote, and overturns your family photos. At first, the changes are small and unobtrusive. But then, one day, you look around the room, and the orientation is unrecognizable. One day, you will miss all that the chronic pain has changed, all that it has taken, and you will begin to wonder whether it was you who moved the couch to that corner, or turned that chair—the one with the small rip up the side—or moved the table towards the fireplace that never gets turned on, with the 99-cent lamp that you found at a garage sale. Illness will not just change your body or your physical abilities or your life expectancy; it will distort, misrepresent, and manipulate reality; it will pervert right and wrong, twist true and false, condemning you to a life of uncertainty.
The thing about chronic disease is that it likes to travel in pairs of two, three, four, sometimes five. One draws up the map, copies the key, and helps the others find their way in. One by one, they stack up and spread to each and every part of you, until they block the sun from your eyes and steal that sweet feeling of grass tickling between your toes. But you will not give up, because hope is the only thing they can’t take. You will not consent to this invasion. They lead you into it, premeditated murder, leaving you bed ridden for weeks, unable to move, talk, touch, hug, and then, without notice, they’ll be gone. You’ll wake up one morning to find the sun shining and the birds chirping, all worldly signifiers of a good day. That day will turn into weeks, then weeks into months, and you’ll think to yourself: “It’s gonna be ok. I’m gonna be ok.” They wait until you’ve convinced yourself that it’s going to get better, and then they’re back. This time, with a friend. This cycle continues; it never ends.
I’m not sure I would agree to breathing in fresh air and feeling the warm sun poke at my pale skin, or to laughter with friends, or to drinks at the bar, or to being in love, or to any of the beautiful things that my life now gives me, if I knew that nobody would know what I meant when I told them I was tired.
I’m so very tired.
I am still here, but I am not whole. I am a run on sentence I never end and no one can stand to read me.