Acknowledging Pain. And Pleasure.

Sometimes I wonder at what point telling one’s truth becomes self-indulgence, but I don’t suppose it matters. Writing helps me process my various traumas, and if anyone gets tired of my tales of woe (I am a Wednesday’s child after all) he or she can move on to sunnier blogs. I do know that in the scope of world events, such as wars and other horrors, a disabled and deformed arm is of little consequence, but in my world, the injury continues to loom large.

Still, I don’t suppose anyone really needs to know that yesterday I shed tears of pain, frustration, and fatigue. It’s amazing how much energy it takes to deal with chronic pain and even more amazing that the ensuing exhaustion does not lead to easy sleep. If I sit quietly and don’t move my left elbow, arm, wrist, or fingers, the ache is minor and can be easily ignored, but remaining immobile is a good way of ensuring that my left limb will remain permanently immobile.

Normally massaging an atrophied limb makes it feel better, but I have so much scar tissue to be massaged, that kneading makes the pain worse. Unfortunately, I need to knead, so this pain, too, I have to endure. Ignoring scar tissue is dangerous. (Recently two friends have undergone major surgeries because of old scar tissue) and I have enough problems without worrying about scar tissue eventually impeding the flow of blood.

There’s no therapist cracking a metaphoric whip to make me do the necessary work, just my own undisciplined self trying to put myself back together again. Some of the pain is inadvertent, such as when I absently reached out to grab something with my left hand, but that is all to the good. After all, the whole point of gaining as much mobility and flexibility in the limb as possible is to be able to use the arm without thinking about it.

The very idea of having to live with such pain and effort for a year or two (and possibly the rest of my life) is daunting, so I try not to think — just do. I could take pain pills, and I did take one last night, but although they sometimes take the edge off the pain, they cause additional problems such as vertigo, so I only take them as a last resort. During the months when I absolutely had to take the pills, I couldn’t bend over without feeling as if I were falling, couldn’t walk without feeling as if I were off balance. (I still use a trekking pole as a cane, though now it is more of a precaution than a necessity. But come to think of it, it is a necessity. Any fall could cause more damage to that poor pulverized wrist.)

At the moment, I feel more hopeful than I did yesterday, maybe because I have not yet been reduced to tears. I do know I have to take each day as it comes without trying to negate — or exacerbate — my pain, frustration, and fatigue.

Although I have not yet learned to ignore the wails of the passing trains at night (during the day, the wind blows the sound away, so it’s not as much of a problem) and have not completely eradicated the smell of stale cigarette smoke from my room. I do feel that this new place is more conducive to healing than the old one. I have more privacy inside and a nicer area to walk outside. Being a creature of habit, I often take the same route — winding through the neighborhood, looping across the desert, and returning by way of the longest sidewalk I have seen since I left a city grid. That anachronistic sidewalk pleases me as much is the open space of the desert does.

So, see? I am not all doom and gloom, though sometimes it does feel that way.

Here’s to healthier and happier days for all of us.



(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”) Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “Acknowledging Pain. And Pleasure.”

  1. Carroll Says:

    Your truth, your willingness to share has provided me more support than you could imagine. C

  2. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    As one Wednesdays child to another; stick with it, all will be well! XD

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s an amazing world we live in where someone halfway around the world, someone I have never met, can bring me such encouragement and comfort. Thank you.

      • LordBeariOfBow Says:

        There’s no need for thanks Pat; if I do and say something in the hope of getting thanks then what I say and do is not worth a ‘bumper’.
        What I do and what I say is what I feel, no more, no less, and that’s he way it should be, at least I think so.

  3. pamkirst2014 Says:

    Let’s hope today’s tolerable time means healing is taking place. All the best to you—

  4. Terry Allard Says:

    After enduring the death of your soul mate, there should be a “get out of horrible chronic medical situations” free card you could play. NOT FAIR!!! From what I have read, you were there for young siblings, then aging parents and a very ill husband. Now you need the care and find yourself having to be your own caregiver physically and emotionally, Hard,,,very hard!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I feel the same way. So not fair! Good things do happen, but they are small. I need something good on the same magnitude of the bad. But I don’t think life works that way. 

  5. Charlotte M. Liebel Says:

    So, Pat, as one who burns the midnight oil on most nights, solving ‘nothing’ but finding the evenings rich with mental activity; I am mentally engaged. I needed to dig deeper for thoughts to respond in a deeper presence to you, saying what my feelings felt for you. Before I could write sincere thoughts, on Friday night, I went to bed – could not sleep – then awakened at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. I found my response to you. Got up, and wrote: Dear friend…you have every right to feel angry and sad with all that you must have to endure! And you are facing The Unendurable!! This is so unconscionable! Especially, since you know that your pain and healing will be, at least, a year or so in the future. And, please, feel free to share your days writing this blog with truth of anguish and hope. I am listening. I am so sorry for your pain. Hugs,

    Charlotte M Liebel @Sharliebel

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