The uninvited guest.

January 19, 2014 § 15 Comments

An all-day rain.Growing up, I had a friend whose father was grouchy, even mean.

His behavior was explained and excused by two words: bad back.

I thought grouchy and mean were more to the point.

I’d never had a bad back, or a bad anything.

I have now had a pain in my side for much of the last two months that no amount of barium swilling has been able to diagnose. Grouchy and mean are beginning to make sense.

Pain in its many forms: maddening itch, burning, stabbing, dull ache, needn’t be acute to change your life, just persistent.

An uninvited guest, chronic pain moves in and immediately rearranges the furniture, plays music that you hate at full volume, and wherever you go, it tags along.

Decide you want to do something and pain will have the last word.

Pain says sit, and sister, you sit.

Lugging pain around I find it hard to care about anything with the usual passion. It is as if I see the rest of the world through a curtain. I’d like to join you guys, but I can’t quite get to you, you seem so far away.

Chronic pain varies in amplitude—almost as if it is trying to lull you. For a little while, the unwelcome guest cuts you slack, and the optimist thinks, maybe he’s moved out.

But pain, at least for me, even when taking a break, leaves a tenderness, like it is leaning on me, as if to say, “Hey, I’m still here.”

I try to elude its attention, and I never put a stick between the bars and poke it, but it doesn’t need provocation. It flares up at its own convenience, not mine.

My husband (bum knees, crushed heel) says that after a while you learn to isolate the pain, put it in time out. Knees, you are no longer a part of this body. Henceforth you will take your complaints elsewhere.

But I have yet to learn to do that, so pain stays with me like an all-day rain.

Pain makes it easier to cry, not about the pain itself, but about everything else. Life suddenly feels like a shaky enterprise barely held together with scotch tape and rubber bands. How does the whole rickety thing manage to keep rolling forward?

The pain-free self I took for granted has taken on mythic proportions. She was so capable and strong, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Carrying the weight of pain I stumble over sidewalk cracks.

And it is exhausting. Mind if I lie down?

I believe life offers lessons. The lesson of pain could be as simple as, hey, you’re mortal.

Maybe each of us interprets the lesson of pain in our own way. My friend’s father concluded that the lesson was, life is a gyp and misery needs company.

I don’t know what I think. Two months in I am new at this, and the pain is not, except at its worst, acute. Some of you would gladly trade pains with me if you could. But those of you who live with this constant, wearing companion, tell me, how do you do it? And what does it mean?

Note: Having finished another round of antibiotics, the shot in the dark when the diagnoses is elusive, I’ve had a couple of nearly pain-free days, although the low ache is still there. While this is probably not a full reprieve I am thankful for the break. Those of you with uninvited guests of your own, may your courage last until the pain goes away.

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§ 15 Responses to The uninvited guest.

  • craig reeder says:

    wish i could offer advice………but I got nuthin’
    just hope you get some relief…. soon!


  • Liz Jameson says:

    So sorry to hear! Your message is wonderful, of course, but I don’t like that you’re in pain. Sure hope the docs are getting to the bottom of this!
    Lots of healing thoughts sent your way!


  • Sue Cronkite says:

    I have occasional visits from a pain into side which I think is my gall bladder, but the doctor says isn’t. Still, I don’t eat spicy food much. When I do I suffer. Now, most of the time it stays away. I pray yours will do that too. Has your pancreas been checked? Don’t stop looking.


  • KM Huber says:

    In these last four years, pain and I have been evaluating our relationship for it seems that ours is a permanent one. We seek a way to live with one another.

    Pema Chodron taught me to go directly to the pain and sit with it, which is similar to what Ray is advising. This takes regular practice but it does not allow the pain its own life and therefore the ability to run mine. I still have days where pain is too much with me–today is one–sometimes, that means I cannot do what was scheduled, which has been and still is a struggle for me. Yet, I know that 24 hours of sitting with pain can sometimes mean the next few days are better–or not–regardless, I am taking of the current day.

    I will say that sitting with my pain has taught me a lot about my body–some say it is our body getting our mind’s attention–but more than anything it has helped me be more present. In a moment by moment existence, I notice more, my perspective broadens so that the pain is a part of me but it is not all of me.

    I am thinking of you, my friend.


  • Genia says:

    Adrian, I am so sorry to hear about your pain. You’re such a lovely person. It doesn’t seem fair that you should experience suffering of any kind. I hope it’s not something you “just have to live with”. If It seems that it wants to stay forever, drop it off at the “Pain Management Center”. Maybe they can at least give you a vacation from it.


  • Richard Dempsey says:

    My pains so far have been tolerable. That is, I think to my pain: if that’s the worst you can do, I can handle it. I think of those who must endure much more. Oddly, I find the sharper pains will often subside with that. They don’t vanish, but they sometimes draw back if I can push them aside for a time. Richard D.


  • You are still capable & strong Adrian! Lesser mortals, such as moi, woudln’t have been able to write such an elegant blog about this situation.
    Oddball idea, but mebe the md will want to look into whether due to the various waves of antibiotics, your innards are in the throes of a fullblown yeast overload. This happened to my dear hubby years back when we lived in another city & it was only diagnosed when he went off to Shands/uf.

    In any event, more neck rubs from Ray to you, more velvet heating pads, more breathing of peppermint oil, or other aromatherapy & more dark chocolate, buttery caramels, lucious blueberries, & all your favorite food treats.

    hugs to you where it doesn’t hurt fabulous pal,


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