a prize fighter named Pain

Reaching deep, deeper, deepest into my archives this time with a story that seems appropriate for our collective contemporary selves across the world. I offer this post first published here in September, 2011. I lifted it from my third book, I’ll Call It Like I See It, which is how my blog got its name. 

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 who 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 at the end of the day, Pain only works harder; sleep and rest flee from him.  He is their biggest fear, their 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 he leaves after a long fight to make me think 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 returns.  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 which may as well be made of concrete.  Always to my eyes – which blur, burn and water incessantly as they produce protein deposits splattering the annoying eyeglasses essential  to replace the contact lens I used to wear.

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 on whatever battlefields 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, no valiant rescue on the horizon.  It is just Pain and me.


I’m sure I don’t say welcome to my new followers often enough, but I appreciate everyone who clicks “follow”  – you all give me encouragement to carry on. Many of you live on other continents that are foreign to me; but our shared humanity, particularly in this time of Covid-19, connects us across the oceans. Thank you all for taking time to read and reflect.

Stay tuned.


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.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to a prize fighter named Pain

  1. Oh no, that’s an awfully long time to spend with Pain. Didn’t realise that Shingles could last as long as that 😦 Do take care and avoid medical visits for now…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shingles is a nerve condition that lies dormant unless provoked by something – usually stress. But people often don’t realize it can come back for return visits equally unpleasant.
      Today I had to go to my family doc for a shot because I got a sting from a no see um gnat that I had an over the top reaction to. Pretty drove me to my doctor who is taking excellent precautionary measures for Covid-19. I don’t know if you have no see ums in France?


  2. Wayside Artist says:

    Pain takes no prisoners, preferring to throw you back in the arena for another round. You don’t even get to choose your weapons. I’m sorry Sheila. Pain is a ruthless adversary.
    Stay as well as you can against this newest opponent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I must have been misleading in this post – this was published in September, 2011, after I’d had a recurrence of shingles. Thankfully, the only thing I’ve had to worry about today is the no see um sting I got yesterday. Bad reaction. But got a shot for it today. Other than that, I am as good as you can get when you’re almost 74!
      You are right about Pain, though, it takes nos prisoners.


      • Wayside Artist says:

        Damn the no see ums. Frannie hates them as much as horseflies.
        You have our human and equine sympathies. I thought the shingles pain was pretty much under control, but thought you might be referring to knee and general arthritis pain. Hang in there all the same.


  3. cindy knoke says:

    I am so sorry Sheila. My husband and son have both had this. My husband twice.

    Liked by 1 person

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