I have spent the last three days in bed, pretty much unable to move. It’s an enlightening place to be. At first, its just exasperating and uncomfortable and then the world shrinks to be a very tiny place indeed and I marvel at how people can tolerate things like this and things worse than this because I certainly can’t. I’m not strong enough to be brave, but then it occurs that it’s not as if I have a choice.
My universe is this moment, lying in bed, too scared to move, but knowing that I have to. I can’t breathe well lying down. The breathing problems of the last week has turned into a chest infection and I have to be at least somewhat upright to have my lungs function just a little. The coughing slips joints out of place and it’s difficult to not cry, but crying slips things out of place as well and makes my head hurt even more, although I’m not so sure that that is truly possible. I have one of those migraines I get on occasion where I can’t even lift my head off the pillow. Other joints pretty quickly follow suit. Falling down the stairs hasn’t helped. Taping and splinting is pretty useless, but we try it anyway. Lying immobile in a quiet, dark room the pain is excruciating and intolerable, moving notches it into a realm that I don’t have words for. I try not to move. It’s not a realistic goal.
Chris helps. I appreciate how difficult it is for him to do everything he does and on top of that also hit patches where he has to do everything for me and so it’s difficult to ask for help, but more than that, it’s incredibly hard to accept it gracefully. There’s something humbling about not being able to pick up a glass of water or turn over in bed without needing someone to help. It’s a dehumanizing place to be. I’m fed water and nutritious milkshakes through a straw and occasionally we try bites of food that I tend to immediately throw up again. Chris keeps a damp towel on my forehead, makes sure my iPod has an audio book on it, keeps it charged and gently places the earphones in and turns it on before heading out to work. I muse at my predicament, how did I get here? Then I realize that here is only a few steps down from there. There is normal, well, normal for me and normal for me isn’t exactly normal. I gloss over a great many things and I live life in tiny chunks that helps me forget how terribly careful I have to be all the time. I fool myself into pretending that life isn’t worse for me, it’s just different and all I have to do is live around being sick sometimes. It takes lying still for three days unable to do anything to realize that it’s not that simple. Some obstacles can’t be overcome.
I’m no longer exasperated though. Acceptance is a decision that has to be made every time an obstacle pops up, which is constantly. I can’t keep getting annoyed because life isn’t working out the way I intended it to. Right now, there is just now and now is the place where it’s time to struggle against the gloom that creeps in like mist on a winter’s morning. Pain is not something I have words to describe. It floods past a certain point and it becomes all that there is. I hurt and nothing makes it better. But that’s okay. I’ve gotten better at making it through times like these. Coping isn’t a fixed resource. How much you can cope with depends on how much you believe you can cope with. Not coping isn’t something that just happens, it’s a decision and a choice. I can choose not to go there. It’s going to take a while to claw my way back to normal, but I’ve rediscovered old friends that provide comfort along the way and have made some new ones. Whilst Chris is at work, I listen to the Honorverse on audio book and Honor, is my kind of heroine:
No one else knew how she’d longed for extinction, how much part of her had hungered simply to quit. To end. She’d once intended, coldly and logically, to do just that… She’d sacrificed her naval career… and a corner of her mind suspected she’d actually wanted to sacrifice it — that she’d planned to use the loss of the vocation she loved so much as one more reason to end her dreary existence. It had seemed only reasonable then; now the memory was one more coal of contempt for her own weakness, her willingness to surrender to her own pain when she’d always refused to surrender to anyone else.
Honor breaks. It’s unrealistic to put someone through horrible events and expect them to be inhumanely resilient. Honor breaks, but she puts herself back together again every time. I can aspire to that. When Chris gets home from work, he reads to me. He’s picked the Vorkosigan Saga because Miles reminds him of me. I’m very flattered. Who wouldn’t want to be just like Miles?