The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more.
The Nightgown, Chapter 11
It’s not as if it has been insufferably painful (really, again, nothing to complain about). The prescription for pain pills was filled, but I never opened the bottle. High pain tolerance, they say, but I think it’s more a communication with my body.
The healing pain: My toe hurts because my most capable and caring podiatrist, has reversed the attempts of my left foot (my left foot–that would make a great—no, no) of my left foot to explore dimensions incompatible with mobility, and roundhouse kicks. The bone has been corrected. It is now healing. The pain comes in small stabs, lessens when I rest. It’s no heroic feat to tolerate.
The birth pain: I had always considered skipping the epidural, but when I mentioned it to my OB-GYN he asked “Why the hell would you do that?” So, two with epidurals, one without (my daughter didn’t give me a chance. She, the most unplanned, has called the dance since conception).
Each birth involved pain. Waves of really intense pain. But it traveled through an arc which I could ride out (not quietly, mind you, I’m a screamer and bone crusher when it comes to processing pain). Each birth story deserves its own narrative so I will not digress. The pain of birth is a fluid pain (no double entendre, I mean it comes in waves) and it is productive. It is pain with a reason. As long as there is a clear productive reason for a wave of pain, I can ride it.
The 300 sit ups pain: That’s a good pain. It’s the pain that says “See, you still have room for improvement!” It’s a rewarding pain. It’s a signal that what you did was effective, and it’s a healing pain. Always tolerable if not a tad enjoyable. Is that sick of me?
The stupid cottage cheese container pain: Trying to make dinner with my healing foot propped up on the kitchen counter isn’t challenge enough, they have to sell cottage cheese with chives. It won’t kill me but I didn’t want chives. The container looks exactly like the cottage cheese container without chives. It’s just a mean little way to make people feel they have descended into macular degeneration because it isn’t enough that your damned foot is trying to gnarl–so I’m already mad at “the man” –the corporate cottage cheese man with his youth worship culture–when I slice my finger on the tin foil that they have to double seal my cottage cheese with because, apparently, there are some degenerate souls on this earth that go and tamper with our processed dairy foods in public spaces ( damn you tamperers!) Yes, damn the man, damn the tamperers and damn the people in this house who don’t get that I’m supposed to be lying down and elevating my foot. It’s a paper cut but sliced with foil. It stings whenever I try to pick anything up. It won’t stop bleeding so now I’m hopping around the kitchen with a bloody paper towel wrapped around my finger and cursing the man and the tamperers–which all strikes me as perfectly sane behavior, but the pain of that cut exceeds the pain of my healing foot. It is stupid and unnecessary pain. It is the pain of thoughtless design put there to counter the actions of idiot vandals. Like they can’t inject a hypodermic needle through foil. THINK ABOUT IT,PEOPLE.
The compound fracture in the bottomlands twenty miles from civilization pain: This is pain. This is stupid pain mixed with ” that-looks-completely-freaky-wrong “pain. This is god-it-hurts-I’m-ready-to-lie-down-and-surrender-(will this be an okay place to die?)- pain.
This is also where the brain says “No, This is NOT an okay place to die. How long until the sun sets. Are you remembering that coyotes travel in packs–and they’re carnivores?”
Spinal Fluid Leak pain: This was in my pain archives from some time back, but I’m pretty sure I’m recalling it correctly when I say that was: Incapacitating. Migraine pain where a shard of light or a turn of your head rips your intestines out through your nose all because the person who did your anesthesia punctured the membrane surrounding the spinal cord and now cerebral fluid is pressing on your brain pain. This is kill me now pain. To hell with “is this a good place to die?”. This is I want to die pain.
Though it was the fault of the anesthesiologist I still had to pay him for putting me under. I still had to pay for the anethesia, and then, I also had to pay for another procedure to plug the hole he had left in my spine. This is more than pain. This is the “Oh, now I get that whole murder suicide thing,” kinda pain (which I have a well enough grounded moral compass to know is just a perspective thing, not something I would act on.)
There are other physical pains (kidney stones in the 39th week of pregnancy or that time in life when every kid wonders–“so what does happen if I unfold a paper clip and stick it in the wall outlet?” ), but most fall into the categories of productive vs. unproductive, the bottom line is we can endure pain. Some kinds much better than others. But if we know our pain. If we give a holler and wave and a nod of recognition, we are all the more available to see all that is not pain
Yes, my boys are home sick, coughing up lungs like a couple of coal miners , shooting each other with nerf guns and assaulting each other with verbal put downs plebeian in nature—vocabulary, my sons! My husband stopped speaking to me and even woke me up and picked a fight with me in the middle of the night last night, went so far as to say a certain string of words I could pull out of context and make him sound like the biggest asshole, really, really, an asshole. But I will not, because I know he is suffering his own pain, and we worked through it, which is really the remarkable thing about marriage. It’s not remarkable because it’s between a man and a woman. It’s not remarkable because it sanctions us to go out and multiply ( a rather planet killing mandate at this point). It is remarkable because the commitment of it forces you to work it through, to keep finding new reasons and ways after the visions and idyllic scenes in your head have proven comically off. Marriage means you don’t get to throw things out or to petulantly stomp your foot and throw up your arms. It is remarkable because you stay, and you continue to love that person because you know them so well even when you’re screaming “I don’t even know who you are any more!” Like puzzle pieces, you fit each others missing places.
Suffice it to say, my convalescence has not been a blissful period. And yet. . .
It is leap day.
The Montesori never called back
We have no control, my boys and I. We have already named them, photographed them, tracked their bloodlines. We are hopeless addicts. But it is okay, for today, they are softly peeping under Idun. She is the ideal mother and all is well with the world.