Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last night's headache

Note: I wrote this last night, but Blogger was down (as was I). Reading it now, I think, "Why post it?", but thought it was an important topic, though I need to re-address it in more depth at some point. . .

I've had chronic headaches since I was a kid. This year, I finally seemed to be rid of the chronic-ness (yeah, yeah, not a word, but I've got a headache). Interesting how the medical terminology is chronic versus acute. Acute sounds way worse, doesn't it?

Right now I have an acute headache. Why am I even writing? Ah well. I haven't posted for days and feel a bit of obligation to.

I also wanted to see if I could, and if so, what I would write. My face is killing me. It's really more of a faceache than a headache. My sinuses are in agony. Objectifying my sinuses as "not me" helps, not that it makes much sense, but again, I have a good excuse for not making sense.

I could not do anything today. My ability to concentrate is, um. . .impaired.

When I think of the days when I felt like this every single day for days or weeks on end I can't imagine how I lived.

I remember one time I was in a cab in New York City and my head was hurting so badly I started weeping. The sounds of the city were just too much to stand. I even remember finding the smell of the city too much.

That's a migraine in a nutshell. Smell, sound, light. . .even the smallest amount - too much.

Another time I started to cry from a headache was when I was lying in a tent on a beautiful summer night. It was quiet and smelled lovely. I felt so cheated, really, by a headache, yet again, imposing on my enjoyment of life.

The thing about any chronic pain is not the pain, I think, but the sense of helplessness and one's reaction. If I didn't have to concentrate on anything today, I suppose it would have been fine on some level. It is bearable.

That night in the woods, I felt more angry than in pain and that just makes the pain worse. Thinking about how others react to my, yet again, not feeling well makes it all the worse.

It's the things that are not the pain that make it worse.

Things like beating up on myself for not being up to doing something or not having as much energy as a person much older than myself. Things like thinking I should not be so done in by a simple headache (or whatever the current pain issue is).

When I speak to others who have chronic pain it's always this stuff that's the kicker. The pain seems always to be secondary.

I remember when I had a boss who talked proudly about never taking a sick day. He told me about digging clams when he had a broken foot. Is that right?

Most of us are taught that we shouldn't give in to pain, that if we have down time because of it, well, we're just weak. I am weak. By all standards, I am weak.

I disagree, but that disagreement is totally intellectual, just like my views on the beauty standard.

This weekend, when I saw people I hadn't seen in years, I felt ashamed at how much weight I'd put on. And then I judged myself for thinking this way.

And then to add insult to injury, I imagined conversations these people would have, saying things like "Boy, she sure doesn't take care of herself". Are they that petty? How mean-spirited of me for thinking this!

But it makes sense. I grew up hearing this stuff all the time. People would come over the house and the minute they left the judgments would start. So-and-so got fat. So-and-so's husband is probably having an affair. So-and-so's kids aren't doing well in school, did you hear?

Hmmm. From a headache to seeing how the poor modeling of parents has infiltrated my self-talk (as if I didn't know that!)

When I see people like Michelle and Barack Obama, I think, "They are so healthy!" I don't think folks give much thought to how much health and energy play a role in how "successful" people are.

I feel a bit guilty, or something akin to that, for there are others who have far worse health problems than I who manage them with aplomb. And then there are some who don't, so I must remember it's a continuum. I also must remember that it's hard to know what's going on inside of those we don't know well.

I had a dear friend who passed away a few years ago. She had always been sick. Sometimes when I complained about my health to her I'd feel like a complete idiot and major league whiner (which I actually am, in my opinion). She'd say to me, "Pain is pain. Comparing is stupid." Then we'd play cards and tell bad jokes.

Well, pain is pain. Sometimes it just is. Sometimes it's unbearable. It's always a lesson of some sort.

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