It was a Hitler kind of week

I unintentionally lost seven pounds in six days last week, my only other symptom of illness being fatigue so severe that it kept me in bed for much of the time. Because I regularly take pills for nerve pain, pills for arthritic pain, and pills for sleep, along with marijuana and strong narcotics, my first thought was liver or kidney failure, so I stopped taking everything. I knew I would be in more pain, but I had no idea how bad it would get. My shoulders, my back, my hips, the hand that I broke last summer, and my upper legs and knees, were all screaming at me, and I could do nothing for them. When I couldn’t sleep in bed, I moved to the recliner that served as my bed for eight months out of the twenty-four that I was having surgeries, but I couldn’t sleep there either.

I didn’t want to go to the doctor because there are a lot of bad colds going around, but when four days passed, and I was little improved, I decided that I had to go because I wasn't holding up well under the pain, and because I thought I might be so ill that my life would be jeopardized if I waited. He took some blood tests, and I went home to await the results, practice having made me fairly stoic about such things. Peggy came down with a cold that night. The tests came back yesterday, and to my very great surprise, they were normal. The doctor speculated that, whatever the initial problem had been, my later fatigue and weight loss had been due to narcotic withdrawal, so I’m back to taking pills and eating marijuana cookies (but no narcotics). If not for the pain and fatigue, I would have enjoyed seeing the universe without a haze around it. I hadn’t realized how absent from the external world I had become, even though it had been a welcome absence for the most part. I mean, between hurting bad and being loaded, which would you choose? Duh. 

When people talk about the redemptive power of suffering, I think they’re full of shit. Theyre invariably people who have no firsthand experience of what they’re talking about, at least when it comes to bad chronic physical pain. Imagine that you have the worst toothache you’ve ever felt, that it’s untreatable, and that the only thing that will even reduce the pain by half might cause you to sicken and die. Is there anyone on earth who imagines that he would gain from that? If there is, bring him over, so I can slap some sense into him. My life is a war of attrition, and every year I lose more hope, feel more pain, and become more disabled, and Ive yet to meet anyone in my situation who is doing any victory dances

I can’t say that pain hasn’t given me insights, but they’ve been insights about how really bad life can hurt, how little can be done about that, how little support anyone can give, and how utterly tedious it all becomes, both to the sufferer and to everyone he looks to for support. I never dreamed that my life would turn out like this. Quite the opposite. I thought I would be strong and capable almost until I died, and now Im wondering how much longer I will able to clean house. It took me three days last time, and it’s not even a big house. 

I think it likely that the only thing that keeps me alive is Peggy (Im grateful for this), but she is also the person who suffers the most because of me, and that alone is enough to bear. I can only justify my life by bringing good into hers, and I rarely feel that I do particularly well. I have observed little difference in whether pain is physically or emotionally based because either way, the struggle to overcome (or to at least adjust) is likely to be longterm, intense, and a pain in the ass of ones partner. I guess I can give myself credit for doing the best I can, but how would I really know?

P.S. Yes, I understand. I could be worse off, much worse off. I probably know that better than those few who try to remind me of it because living with pain has improved my ability to sense pain in others. It’s like if you bought a red Toyota Camry, and all of a sudden you notice how many red Toyota Camrys are on the road. But, more than that, you have become deeply interested in red Toyota Camrys. Rather than bore me, people who tell me about their pain fascinate and encourage me.

You who read this blog regularly will remember that I had a period last summer when my pain level dropped by 90%. It lasted for about three months, and since then, the pain has kept getting worse. Those three months were the first time in a few years that I had seriously dared to hope, and when the pain came back, they just made it the harder to bear.