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.