Sometimes it hurts. It hurts to move. My entire left side throbs with a pain that radiates from my neck, down through my shoulder, then into my hip, around my calf and into my ankle. It’s constant, but sometimes worse. Much unlike the pain on my right side, which feels more like an electrical shock, forcing me to wince before it exits my body. The left side pain makes me want to stay in bed some mornings, but I get up any way. A hot shower helps, for a while. But when I start to walk, it gets worse again. It sucks. I’m 37, and I feel like my grandmother used to complain of feeling when she was in her 60s. Maybe she had undiagnosed MS. Or maybe I’m just getting older. Or maybe I’m just destined to feel this incredible, nearly debilitating pain from time to time to keep me in check. I say nearly debilitating, because I refuse to allow it to take anything away from me. I hurt. I get cranky. I get down. But I won’t stop. I can’t. The first time I allow the pain to stop me is the first time I give into my opponent. And once you cave to it, it’s only a matter of time before you give up again. And again.
Today, we walked from 72nd Street in New York’s Upper East Side, down past 2nd and 1st and even further beyond. My backpack was extremely heavy, and it pulled at my throbbing shoulder as an enemy would jab at an open wound. I had no choice; I couldn’t dump my backpack, and I refused to give into the constant reminder of my disease. I stopped for advil, downing three while still in the store. 600 milligrams did little, confirming the source. Today, I feel like a gnarled knot of rope, each mis-tied spot pulling and causing strain on the rest of my body. Some may say that walking more than 70 blocks (almost five miles) would cause some aches and pains. Maybe so – but not like these. And not within one block of your starting point. I know my body. I know my tolerance of pain. Today, I was pushed to the limit.
Tonight, I plan on taking a potent helping of melatonin. Or maybe benadryl. Whatever makes me sleep and, for eight hours at least, forget the hurt. In the meantime, I leave you with this song by Johnny Cash. It’s somewhat become my theme song.