I cried last night. Frustrated, barely able to walk or think I broke down and allowed myself to acknowledge the feelings of hopelessness and desperation, two persistent companions to chronic pain. This Winter has been very unkind to me and my body. January brought first the flu and then a cold, both of which combined into a seemingly never-ending tale of bodily discomfort and exhaustion.
Then, February came armed with the “Mother” flare-up, the most vicious of any that I have known in my past. The fatigue was there and so was the pain, nothing that I haven’t dealt with daily. However, the “Mother” brought a special weapon with her, one that is certain to give a lethal blow to all pain warriors. A weapon so mighty in its scope and power that it rightfully earned its legendary status. Just a thought of it is enough to stop even the most experienced of us Fibro Warriors for a moment, filling us with unease and fear.
Yes, the “Mother” unleashed her full arsenal of cognitive and brain disturbances. The Brain Fog gave a way to a partial loss of memory and a complete inability to focus, leaving me to try to cope with checklists and extended times for completion of tasks and projects. “I got this down,” I assured myself thinking that all that I have learned before will be enough to win this battle. After all, I’ve been a hardened veteran, fighting the pain for 18 years and winning every battle thus far. “I got this!”
Full of hubris I entered the battle only to quickly learn that somehow the rules have changed and I was completely lost. My speech became slurred, I could not recall proper grammar in neither of languages that I speak, and often I could not finish meaningful sentences. Unable to focus I briefly lost my ability to read. All I could do was to stare at the page while the words sounded off the meanings that disappeared as quickly as they formed. For several days I lost the use of my hands and my balance was slightly altered. I tripped and fell more times in the last month or so then I ever did in almost two decades.
I panicked. Somehow, as long as my mind was sharp and I could write the constant pain seemed possible to beat. I had my self and my mind had the power to alter the thoughts and definitions of pain and depression, creating and altering paths and roads to positive thinking, making the recovery real and tangible. But once I could not flush out my thoughts, periodically losing the ability to communicate I felt my soul disintegrating. I was not “I,” and fear and panic overtook my body and mind.
The “Mother” was winning, or so it seemed. Imbued with pain, I came home from work last night on a verge of tears. I slowly took my clothes off not able to bear the excruciating pain that cloth created as it came in contact with my skin. Nauseous and shaking as the waves of pain came through me, I laid in my bed uncomfortably feeling the metallic taste of fear in my mouth. Taking deep breaths I tried to calm myself down, and unable to get away from my condition I began to cry. Silently, wordlessly I let the tears wash my burning skin. Exhausted I was about to lose this battle. I cried myself to sleep hoping that all, including me, will disappear forever. I was done.
Awakened by the sounds of an impatient cat asking for food and a hushed voice of my husband , I slowly moved first my arms, then my legs, engaging in a Fibro ritual that allows me to asses my pain quickly. Yup, the pain was still there. I rubbed my eyes feeling the tightness of my skin along the paths od tears that have dried overnight. Somehow, the glossy rivulets felt comforting, grounding me. I took a deep breath as I slowly lifted my body from the sheets and sat on the edge of the bed. My mind seemed clear, alert and ready to write. The smell of freshly brewed coffee drifted to my nostrils, enticing me to grab my silk robe and shuffle into the kitchen. I filled my cup with the strong, thickly brewed liquid, added some cream and inhaled deeply as I brought the first sip to my mouth. I closed my eyes and decided that I will win this battle just as I won the countless ones before.
I sat at my desk filled with a somewhat uneasy anticipation. What if I can’t write? Shaking off the feelings of last night, I pressed my fingertips against the keyboard and let my soul speak. The “Mother” gave me a gift. She allowed me to recognize the fierce strength of my disease and to renew my respect for the opponent and myself alike. Even though the weapon she unleashed on me is strong, it is not as powerful as my ability to reconnect with who I am through writing. As long as I recognize myself, Fibro will always lose.