A miserable, wearing, inch by inch struggle to do anything, a world where everything around me looks like dirty dish water as I stumble and clench and grit my teeth and wonder when I will ever find something the smallest bit rewarding or worthwhile, or when I will finally get the smallest bit of headway on the constant mire of stubborn annoyances that try my worn body. Chronic pain isn't just acute pain that lasts for some time, it is qualitatively different. Chronic pain can hover on the edge of reason, becoming such a normal feature of life that I forget why I am miserable. And then, every once in a while, I remember that normal people don't have to make special plans to look over their shoulder.
One of my rules is that as long as I am going slowly insane, I might as well be going insane from drugs as from pain. Without getting into any details that might corrupt the youth, there are some very easy combinations of over the counter medications that will, for want of a better term, fly me to the moon. I make one of them, choking back the bitterness. And then I descend into the eye of the hurricane. I am not feeling anything, but an expectation of relief from the pain calms me. I sit and wait, knowing that soon, for a while, my problems will be gone. And slowly I realize that the pain is peeling off of me...I walk around, and enjoy my new found limberness. The pain is gone. Things are interesting. I set to work, scrubbing a pile of dishes that I had let pile up. I actually throw away the wrappers of junk food that I had left balled up over the kitchen counter during days when effort was too painful to do. I knew that I was in pain, but I didn't realize what a rock in my shoe it was, how it had insinuated itself into everything I do.
And then, I move away, a nice slow luxuriant moon walk to the now glowing and gigantic window in the living room. I look out the window at the endlessly fascinating array of green, meaningful shapes outside. I realize that it isn't just my pain that had been rubbing up against my mind: it was everything. Now, that hole in my mind, that constant struggle against incompleteness and meaningless had been removed. Everything was full of meaning. I saunter around, slowly, time starting to lose its meaning. I look at a clock: 37 minutes have gone by now, which should mean something but doesn't. Part of my mind tells me that sometime soon I will feel terrible again, and that if I could remember how great this feels right now, this is all I would ever do. I laugh at those thoughts, they seem distant. And now, something happens that is different. I don't know if this is just part of the forgetting, or if this is really a unique event: but I realize that the room around me is watching me, taking care of me. It always has been. I look out the window again, the sky is not a distant thing, but an arch that closes over me and protects me. Although not a hallucination, I feel warm supportive eyes on me, as if everything around me is alive. Not only is it alive, it has been watching me for a while, and it is in on the joke that is pain and loneliness and separateness, and we share a little laugh about me believing that these things were real.
And while these thoughts go through me, I also have the amusement that is the luxurious sway of my once stiff and uncooperative body, and I go over and lie down on the couch, laughing. Part of me knows this won't last forever, that my revelation will soon seem like just a quizzical whimsical thought. But that is tomorrow, and tomorrow is just another day.