I’ve had a nasty run of pain-filled days lately. It’s taken hands-full of pain killers to get out of bed and dressed, down the stairs and into the nest on the couch by the dog. This is where I spend my days: curled up in the nest, hand in the dog’s fur, involved in the interwebz as much as the pain allows.
Sometimes just barely watching something, or reading blogs, or adding my own to the discussion boards. The best days of late have been creating my own content, making my own imprint on the vast, glorious, terrible, infinite web.
Pain takes so much away from us. Chronic pain strips away jobs, friends, family, so, so much. It strips away our ability to participate in the world.
It took me so long to realize what I was losing to the migraines. When the pain management doctor finally said stop, that the job at the Texas Society of CPAs (TSCPA) would kill me within two months if I didn’t take a break, it was a miracle to me. I had permission to let go and rest.
But leaving that job had consequences. I’d worked seven jobs in 10 years, was fired from four of them, and left two of them because of my migraines. When you leave in disgrace, you don’t get a good reference, you steal a lot of office supplies, and office friendships wither and die very quickly. When I left TSCPA, I left the few friends I had there. I lost the sense of accomplishment I had. I hated the company with a blind passion; I still do. But I loved the job I did, and I was really good at it.
I lost the joy I had at turning a pile of boring and sometimes incomprehensible papers into a magazine, of designing and laying out publications, of selecting images. I lost my sense of accomplishment at taking nothing much and turning it into a magazine, a newsletter, business cards, handouts, so much more.
I lost my sense of participating in something bigger than I was.
I think that’s a lot of what chronic pain does to us. We lose our ability to participate. And if we boil that down to a basic, playground analogy, if you’re the kid who always says no when asked to play, everyone stops asking. Doesn’t matter that we can’t climb the steps to the slide. Doesn’t matter that the merry-go-round will make us vomit. Doesn’t matter that muscular problems keep the swings from swinging. If we say no too many times, no one will ask.
So I, we, have to find ways to participate.
I’ve always loved writing; it was one of my first loves and my first real career. I wrote for newspapers. Newbie stuff: obituaries, weather, traffic, county fair, rodeo, community meetings. Bigger responsibilities: city council, plane crashes, kidnappings, murders. Finally the things I loved so much: feature stories, columns.
Starting this column is my way of saying yes, I’d like to play, I want to participate. Writing is revisiting an old friend and love. The joy of picking this word or that, of rereading what I’ve written to see what happens when I change punctuation, when I tighten up the writing or fix the punctuation. Finding images that speak to what I’m trying to say, funny captions to add spice. I’m finding so much joy in the art of crafting the blog.
But my blog doesn’t every have to be anything beyond me sending my thoughts, created through my love of words and depth of experience, into the wide ocean of the world in all the empty pill bottles scattered around me. It has to be, it is, my participation.
But when my blog becomes something more, when someone opens that link, that bottle, it becomes their own act of participation. Passive participation, sure, to start. Then, click a star button, type a response. Talk about an idea. Write their own blog. Agree. Disagree.
So while it sucks, to have so many bad pain days in a row, to miss blogging for so long, it’s really good to be back. It’s good to put my hazy, drugged thoughts into words, polish them up, and send them out into the world in my own act of defiance against the chronic pain. I know this is a cycle I’ll repeat again and again. I can live with that by participating.
Until then, I remain,