Life Past 4

I was at my pain management specialist this past Monday, to continue figuring out how to treat all of this pain. It’s real pain, it’s flatly debilitating in that real sense: I am simply not able to do the work I do. Lord knows I’ve tried. I try at least a couple of times every week. Why not every day? It’s a balancing act: I can’t not keep trying, in hopes of a sudden, inexplicable restoration of my faculties. But hope is balanced with disappointments. I sit at my Mac, properly postured at a desk which is at the ergonomically correct height, with a footrest and a chair adjusted just so. I even compensate for my older eyes by tuning down the resolution on the giant screen so that the text and images are that much larger.

I have ideas. I have plans. I have goals. I can create. I can express. Synthesis? Doable, but there’s always a sort of premorse quality to it. Analysis? Fucking forget it. Forget concentration. Forget retention. Output happens, but input and processing? No dice.

The disappointments are thunderously depressing. Literally thunderous: the tenuous hold I have on barely managing to grasp whatever’s left of my previously unassailable optimism always slips away. Clouds form and lightning spikes of pain touch down in my head. Phonophobia ensues just in time for the thunderclap. Fun.

On the plus side, I don’t have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. The headaches have me jumping right out of bed in search of some kind of distraction. That’s almost always some low-key movie on HBO or Blu-ray with the sound turned down. Unless the tension headaches have triggered a migraine, in which case I pop an Imitrex and brace myself for the waves of nausea.

My only relief comes from going to my Korean doctor in Union City every week, getting acupuncture and cupping treatment. It’s a relief which lasts sometimes up until the next morning, but mostly it lasts only a few hours. You’d be surprised at how much “Wednesday” has installed itself as the high point of my week, and how much just a tiny bit of dependability in hope can sustain me.

Only what happens when even that doesn’t happen? The world goes pear-shaped. I was on the way home from Union City this past Wednesday, coming across the San Mateo Bridge instead of heading further North to take the Bay Bridge as I usually do, and swiftly on Lucifer’s wings came a jacked up headache. If it had been a migraine, there would have been an accident.

Pain is one thing; that I can deal with, am dealing with, have dealt with. There are even numbers: the pain scale that is in common use is an odd combination of subjectivity and quantification. But magically, it just works. I can flatly convey my own pain level to another human being. Or many human beings: I’ve seen more doctors in the past 6 months than I have seen probably all of my entire life previous to these headaches and neck issues.

My pain level is consistently 4 or higher (on a 1 - 10 scale), except after the Korean doctor, when I get a sub-4 break, which means 3.

I’m not me anymore. I can think of any number of people who might see that as nothing but an improvement, but hey, fuck them. I’d still rather be this post-me me than any of them. What makes them not like me at all…that part is still intact. The iron fist of brutal candor is usually covered in a velvet glove of optimism and good nature, but the gloves have been off for some time.

And I seem to be taking out my misery on bad metaphors by driving them into the ground.

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