Transitional Phases

I’m in a weird state of disability right now, in which I have a foot with four different conditions that doesn’t want to heal, and a back that has decided it’s going to stab me with burning cold stilettos if I move even a centimeter the wrong way. Even better, while sleeping helps the former, it makes the latter MUCH worse.

(I’m glad I didn’t Konmari; my Lordoloc back brace from my disk surgery in 2016 is proving to be a life saver.)

Before this happened, a dear, beloved friend of mine actually asked me “If you could heal yourself just by not eating meat, would you?” I had to remind her I’d already been vegan. I’m not that kind of meat eater. And I was well aware that her intentions were “holy cow there’s got to be a way my friend can heal. Maybe I can help her.”

It’s got me thinking about transitions and liminal spaces, and how much people want to be, and help you, through them. Most forms of sickness and disability are viewed as a phase that you need to get through. Healing is to be rushed through to get you back to an “acceptable” state.

There’s no real space for accepting where one is.

It’s frustrating, this rush to get back to the “healed” state. I mean, certainly I do NOT want to be in pain. That’s a given. But it’s not like I’ve had a trustworthy body all my life that has suddenly fucked off on me. I’ve had all sorts of issues since I was quite young. Skin, feet, back… all before I hit the double digits.

It’s not like all this stuff I’m going through wasn’t heralded.

When I put my foot back in the protective boot in order to not be in pain I felt a surge of rage at my backsliding that surprised me. My mental process was “As if I don’t have enough to deal with, the only way I can be pain-free is to encase my left foot and ankle in this clunky plastic-and-foam-and-velcro… almost exoskeleton. What the actual fuck.”

Didn’t even occur to me to be grateful there was an option. Some folks are just… in pain. And sometimes I… am just in pain. So on comes my lower back, stabbing me, to remind me what THAT constancy of agony felt like.

I think it’s about time that I stop treating this aspect of my life as something I can heal from, and quickly. That’s pretty ableist of me.

It’s time for me to think about what I can do to make this life, this immediate, as-I-am-right-now, life work for me.

The Adventure of the Dual Ear Infection

The entirety of last week both Jon and I were fighting a flu.

Late on Friday, I started feeling intense pain in my left ear. Like someone was pushing needles through my ear canal. To the point where I was screaming in pain.

Jon said I should go to the doctor. I didn’t want to move – omg the idea of being in a moving car made me want to puke just thinking about it – but agreed that if it was still bad after sleeping, we would go.

On Saturday the pain had subsided in my left ear but started up in my right. We went to a Walgreen’s clinic to get diagnosed and, hopefully, treated.

Otitis media.
Otitis externa.

We waited for our prescriptions to be filled right there.

Amoxycillin.
Neomycin drops.

(Jon got amoxycillin too, and Tesselon pearls.)

So here I am on Wednesday and I cannot hear worth a damn via my right ear. My tinnitus in that ear is LOUD. When I walk, every step of my right leg causes a rather loud noise inside my head. On my left side I can hear better, but it’s only half as good as it was before this. The tinnitus on that side is mild. And when I shake my head, I hear one tone at the right and one on the left – almost an octave apart. The tones are higher in the daytime, lower in the nighttime.

Don’t get me started on the auditory hallucinations this has caused.

This is all brand spanking new for me because I cannot recall ever having an ear infection, ever. While the experience was initially a painful experience I never want to repeat, and it is currently really fucking irritating, it’s also very *interesting.* I mean, the tones alone are kind of neat, experiencing how the eardrum is affected by the movement of my head and the fluid within. It’s also intriguing to note how my brain has been interpreting different pressure on different locations around and in my ear. While I would never want to repeat the painful ones, and some of the non-painful ones are truly disconcerting (like the one that sounded like cell phone interference in music), the fact that I can hear my vertebrae moving much more clearly, and sometimes feel my heartbeat, well… I hafta admit it’s kinda cool.

Of course, the fact that listening to NIN hurts? Not so cool. (It’s just Ghosts, ffs.)

If it’s still a problem tomorrow, I’m supposed to call the clinic. Eek.

Will our intrepid adventurer beat the wild bacteria swarm? Stay tuned!

This Is A Post About Pain

Consider the title the content warning. It’s all about pain.

Feel warned enough?

Okay. *deep breath; squares shoulders*

Yesterday I experienced a terrifying moment where simply attempting to stand up from a crouch hurt so badly I was momentarily blinded. It was in the backyard of our apartment building, and Jon and I were taking Kizu for her midday morning walk. I was literally just crouching to pick up after the pup – attempting to stand back up initiated a whoosh of pain so severe I couldn’t breathe for a millisecond. When the pain increased as I tried to return to the crouch, rather than subsiding, I cried out for help from Jon. He was about 10 yards away, and I had to repeat myself because it hurt too badly for me to even think of raising my voice.

Yeah. That bad.

And I keep on thinking about that. That there was a level of, or kind of, pain where my brain was so shut down, I could not scream.

That’s scary, you know?

I remember the first time I herniated a disc. That feeling of being stabbed in the back. I ended up kneeling in the tub, repeating “Oh my god, stop, stop, oh my god, stop.” But my voice was loud and strong at the beginning, only tapering as the pain continued at the same level. Therefore I knew that if someone had been close by from whom I could request help, I could have called out. Also, I wasn’t blinded by the pain. I could see where to place my hand to give myself support.

In the park I needed desperately to lean on something and had no idea where to go. Jon heard me at the second “help” and came to support me, but for that split second I was freaking out.

I honestly never knew there was a state of pain where one’s senses turned off, but you retained consciousness.  I am hoping that I’ll be able to forget it.

*

It took me until around 9 pm to return to my standard “I’m in constant low-level pain” state. Even with taking double the amount of pain medication I normally took. And it was absurd to feel such a huge surge of gratitude when the label said 1-2 pills every 6 hrs instead of 1 pill every 6.

It’s been interesting, this past week, to be off my fish oil and valerian regimen and to see exactly how much pain that was covering up.  I figured there would be a little masking, but this much?

It has me REALLY looking forward to my surgery on Thursday.