A Prize Fighter Named Pain


           Let me introduce you to my new friend Pain…well, not really new…and not actually a friend.

            I’m learning to live with him, but he’s a stubborn, persistent adversary.  I must have known him intermittently through my more than six decades of life, although the encounters were brief and unremarkable.  Painful episodes are the children of Pain.

            I met Pain himself three and a half years ago.  The mature, grown-up Pain.  He came to my body through the hardest part of me—my head.  He moved into the right side of my scalp and down my forehead to encircle my right eye and cheek.  He followed the nerves that travel through my face.  He had a cute little name that rhymes with Tingles.  Shingles.  Such a harmless name for the devil who rules my life.  He moved into his new home with the excitement of a pioneer staking a claim for a homestead in the Wild West during the glory days when every vista was unexplored territory.

            Pain is a hard worker.  He never sleeps.  He is relentless in his pursuit of control and domination.  Medicines amuse him with their efforts to ease his grip.  He is like a prize fighter whose gloves are cinched for eighteen rounds.  Medication sends him to the corner to be renewed, but he’s up and ready when the bell sounds.  He is a bold opponent who stoops to cheap shots during the fray.

            When the sun goes down and the day ends, Pain only works harder.  Sleep and Rest flee from him.  He is their biggest fear and worst enemy.  He loves the darkness of the night because it reminds him of his own nature.

            Pain pummels me with a ferocious pounding unmatched by mortal foes.  I understand him better now, and I know his tactics.  I know that he leaves after a long fight to make me think that I’ve won.  I step into the center of the ring with my hands held high in a victory salute.  It’s clear—Pain is the loser.

            But, then, he comes back.  Sometimes to the head that now bears the scars of our warfare.  Sometimes with a fatigue that makes movement impossible because I have hit a wall that may as well be made of concrete.  Always to my eyes, which blur and burn and water incessantly as they produce protein deposits that splatter the annoying eyeglasses that now must replace other forms of vision correction.  As I grow older and my immune system weakens, Pain appears stronger and more powerful.

            I have a rendezvous with Pain, as the poet once said of Death.  I meet him when and where he chooses, and we engage in our struggle in quiet isolation.  The stakes are high in this duel with no seconds available to offer assistance and no valiant rescue on the horizon.

             It is just Pain and me.


About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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