This time of year always feels like a ping pong match in my life. Opera season comes roaring in like the howling of a freight train , and any sense of routine goes right out the window. Not enough time and way too much to squeeze into the frenzy of life which can feel pretty overwhelming, but especially more so these days. I tend to push myself, push my body, not quite having figured out the footing in this new territory. Nothing is the same, but nothing is different either, it’s very strange to get my head around.
It was late, I had worked a day filled with long hours, but I needed desperately to stop at the grocery, mostly for coffee but the wilted kale and expired yogurt was not going to miraculously turn itself into a sensational lunch the next day either, so I took the exit for the all night mega grocery store that I normally avoid at all costs. My farm to plate heart dies a little each time I set foot inside, but you have to do, what you have to do, in order to avoid a wilted kale and expired yogurt smoothie. The temperature display inside my car said 86 sticky degrees but that did not stop me from having my seat warmer on, sending a searing but somehow very soothing lifeline of heat into my aching body as I drove. Pulling into a parking space that was not terribly close to the front of the store, I pulled my body out of the car and paused , it’s the new routine. Pain has a routine you know, a familiar path it travels and my body must take just a second to brace for the blunt, at times downright vulgar, hello it likes to scream in order to make it’s presence known.
Once I get my body going it all goes a bit smoother, but I don’t move the same anymore, it’s like the joints in my body don’t quite fit into their place, kinda like shoving at piece of the Norman Rockwell, Rosie the Riveter puzzle you spread out on the dinning room table at Christmas time, into a spot that it’s not meant to go. A voice drifted from behind me and abruptly marched right into my playing field, “Why don’t you have a handicap tag?” she caught up to me and slowed her pace as she walked beside me. I did not look at her. “I have a torn Achilles tendon, it will heal.” This felt intrusive to me, a little nosy if I am being nice and a judgmental jackass if I am not. Forced to stop as an old weathered pick up truck backed out of it’s spot, she was relentless with her interrogation, “How long have you had it?” I just kept walking, “I tore it last June, running.” she paused for a second before she continued. “How long have you had RA?” I didn’t answer. “I have it too”, she continued, “it’s in remission right now, but I could pick out its wrath anywhere. Don’t be a martyr, your body needs you to be good to it right now.” Maybe she sensed I was uneasy with the conversation, or didn’t want to stick around to hear my, “mind your own business”, response or see my inevitable breakdown and the waterworks which followed in aisle 5 when it finally hit me, because she walked on. I thought about what she said, the truth in her words, I needed to hear them. In the oddest of places, in the wackiest of ways I guess you get what you need when you need it.
Thinking of this woman, butting into my bubble of denial and without invitation making a bold move in hopes, I am assuming, that I would hear her, and I did. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to admit to myself that this whole thing is incredibly hard. Even typing this I want to add a qualifier that so many other people have problems that are astronomical compared to me and I should be thankful it’s not worse or some optimistic ramblings, but this is my life, and nothing seems the same, everything is an exhausting struggle.
My days hinge on my body working when I wake up, the judge, jury and executioner of my days. if I am late to work, if I keep the plans I have made, if I take one or two pain pills at the end of the day, if I can make it down the basement stairs to do laundry, enough energy to play with the dogs, ice my knee, heat my achillies, throw up from the methotrexate or eat donuts out of self pity. This my friends is not what was supposed to happen after I had done so well on my dog-lbs journey.
All I know is that even if I want to, (and today I kinda do) I won’t give up. I can’t, because I made a promise, to a dog.
A promise that we would figure things out together, no matter how hard it got, or how long it took. Our road would be traveled together, “you save me and I save you kinda thing”, and he does, over, and over, and over again…
“…still you gotta find some goodness
So hug the corners take the straights
from the cradle to the grave
oh, we all give what,
yeah we all give what we got.” a.ray