Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Look at someone else, Learn about myself

I'd like to talk about pain. Not the pain of heartbreak, although a friend of mine asked me about that the other day because he'd never experienced that before. I told him that it was the worst to get your heart really broken, the most physical and emotion tearing you can imagine and the worst part of it is no one cares.... but no. Heartbreak, blah. If you're lucky you'll know it. It's bad but it's boring. Unless you're going through it and the I'm sorry for you. Go ahead and call me at 4:AM and I will drowse while you cry.
Ah but pain. Pain the body breaking down. Pain an injury. Pain a break. Pain a smash. Pain a growth that knocks your insides around. Pain with jagged edges, with teeth that bite and claws that catch. It's so personal and so relative and we really don't know how to deal with it.
My sweet girl, my baby sister Honey Luna just posted on her blog, Finding Those Dulcet Tones talking about her knee pain, and discovering that after all these years of us telling her that it's nothing, it's something. I feel bad about this.
Not too bad. I'm not rending my clothes or anything, and actually I'm glad that it's something, that she can get it fixed. She just.... well, it's a matter of timing. 
This girl grew up so fast. I mean that literally. At one point she was small, and then over a few short years she grew about three feet. It was a foot a year, like a teak tree, and sometimes I thought that I could see her growing before my eyes, and her legs hurt. Now when I see her I say, "Nice Stems Baby-Cakes!" but of course her legs hurt her! She is not a tree, she is a Girl. Bones and tissue and muscle, sinew and tendon, racing and unfurling inside her stretching skin, she hurt. When her knees started hurting she was still growing and we were used to saying "Oh Baby, you hurt because you are tall". In retrospect it doesn't make a lot of sense, but none of us can deal with the pain of those we love. We didn't want to get down in the guts of her pain and ask, "Is this a new pain? Describe your pain."
Describe your pain. Well. It's an aching. Sometimes. And a sharp where it should be smooth. It feels like a crunch, and I may have gear sheers in there, but sometimes it is a jump pain like a shot that makes you jump. I have a buzzing, there is a tender buzzing that is pink but when it is red there is a stinging and then the bits are all angry. Sometimes it is not a pain at all but a weight, the area is filled with lead I have to drag it and it doesn't move when I tell it to move and sometimes I fall. Sometimes the pain is a coming out pain, like the bones are swelling and will burst through my skin and sometimes the pain is a smashing crushing, an ever so slow and tightening vise that turns and turns. Something like that.
That's my pain, from my magically healed bum leg, that gives me my sexy gimp walk (Gimps up, ho's down) but what good does it do to say it?
I remember when I was in recovery from my accident and nurses would ask me to rate my pain, 1-10. I really stressed out about that, probably because I was all wooped up on percoset and morphine, but what I wanted to know is, what are their reference points? If I said 3, what does that mean to them? All they wanted to know was could I stand it and did I need more medication but it seemed so existential to me. How do you rate pain? Every day you live your pain meter changes, every one's is different. Have you had a child? Do you suffer migraines? Have you been punched in the nose and boy that hurt? Is your pain as bad or worse than when you swallow a potato chip you haven't chewed properly? Is your pain as bad or worse than if someone were to stand on your calves and wiggle around? Have you been hit by a car? Have you any tears and cysts in your knee?
It reminds me of when old men joke about stomping on your foot to take your mind off the pain of your ear. THAT would actually be helpful. YES! YES IT HURTS WORSE THAN THAT!
Then there's my girl, and how she's been walking around so tough. We do want to be so tough, don't we? We don't want to complain, because we don't want to be complainers or martyrs or, god forbid, pussies. But who has the wimp-o-meter? Where are the pain police? 
I don't feel too bad about not addressing my sister's pain, because she has been so quiet about it, but what I do feel bad about is maybe I like that I'm in pain? That I gain some sort of sick personal power from my constant ache? I don't hurt myself on purpose, but somewhere down the road of dealing with my chronic pain I've made it into one of the things that makes me special. And I want to be special. And I think that this has made me less sympathetic when someone else is in pain. Instead of feeling tender toward them I feel a cold comradeship. I don't like this side of myself. I don't know how I could have gotten to the place where I thought misery made me anything but miserable. I'm only really able to see this now because I do feel tender toward my sister, if there is any one on this earth I feel that soft protectiveness for it is my baby sisters. How can I call myself kind when I am so unkind and so uncharitable toward the people around me, and to myself?
It's such a delicate balance between being strong and stone. I am not glad that my loved ones feel pain, but I am grateful that there are people I love that help me see the softness in my heart, and the selfishness too. I'm so glad that her knees can be fixed, and that some pain is not necessary. 
Ah me, this has ended up so far from where I thought I was going. Start out so sassy and end up so introspective. I have to learn to be more gentle. And not so serious all the damn time.
 Okay Honey Luna! Get your knees fixed girl! You are far too tall to not be able to squat.


downtown guy said...

My bum knee sometimes goes out for no reason. Just "whoops, falling over!" and there I go. But it really only hurts when it rains.

May! If you are around tonight, I have a present for you that should not involve any pain at all. Unless you do it completely wrong.

CMe said...

I love this:
'It's such a delicate balance between being strong and stone.'

So true.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree with CMe- that was a perfect line. And yes, I am feeling all the pain about Jessie's pain that you are feeling but the thing about pain is- how do we compare it? There is no comparisons possible. Does a kidney stone hurt worse than labor? Not in my experience. I am always so amazed at how composed a woman in labor can look while inside of her there is such enormous pain that it is like all the pain in the world in one small place. People can be stone, can melt into liquid, can be fire and burn quietly. All with pain.
If I had a wish, it would be that none of my babies ever had pain of any sort. Dammit.
But then you would not all be human, would you?
Sometimes it would be okay to be less than human, though, or maybe MORE than, when pain is a fire.
I love you so much, May. I do. I am so sorrowful that you have pain. I am in awe of the way you handle it.

juancho said...

Getting kicked in the balls is a 10, but it goes away so maybe pain can only be 10 if it is there all the time.

May said...

DTG- I bet your knee is hurting now! Oh, and I will see you tonight. I do love presents.
CMe- Thank you!
Mama- Oh, don't you worry your little head about our pain, you're right, it's part of being alive.
Juancho- Hello! I actually thought about this already. I think that it can't be a 10 if it's around all the time. If you don't die you get used to it, so it can't be a 10. I think getting kicked in the 'nads would fall into one of those perfect equations like: surprise+shock+betrayal+pain+embarassment=10I'm so glad I don't have balls.
If I DID have balls though, they would be BALLS OF STEEL! I would have Superman's balls. Just sayin'.

May said...

Juancho- you should get a profile pic so your comments are pretty as ours.

juancho said...

How do I look?

I said D's Mickey Fickey D's!

(T.V. version)

Petit fleur said...

Awe Miss Maybella,

I love the way you think. I just love it. You make me think, (as I suspect you do others) along lines that are totally new to me. It's a real gift. AND you can communicate it beautifully too~ BONUS.

Now that you've made me think of it, there is something about pain that bonds us all. I imagine if it's something which is experienced chronically, like yours, that although you don't want anyone else to be in pain, it's almost comforting to know you are not alone and you can share knowledge and info... bond with that person in a way you couldn't before. That's not anything but human.

Thanks for having the courage to be you, and say what you say so beautifully and gracefully.
xoxo pf

Petit fleur said...

PS I like your new look on RUTR!

May said...

Juancho- Do your fancy brass knuckles say "Love Mate"? That's pretty fuckin' tough.
Petite Fleur- thank you, I always love your comments. You make me think. Always just a little deeper.

juancho said...


Radio Raheem

All This Trouble... said...

I shed only one tear over this entry. Only one tear and it rolled out of my left eye. I wondered where it came from, even though I knew.

May said...

All This Trouble- What a sad little note! What caused that tear?

Steph said...

Heartache is boring. Truer words were never said.

May said...

Steph- But isn't it just awful? God, I forget how bad it is until someone calls me absolutely keening. I had a friend who would call me late at night and say "I juuuu-uust looo-ooo-oove him sooooo much" over and over again. And all I could do was say, "I know Baby, I know." I think she's over it now.

SJ said...

Heartache and heartbreak are such tough things because you cant point to something and say that it hurts - you just feel like a crazy person for awhile =) I know I do anyway.

And for what its worth, I'm so serious all the damn time too. I think that's a chronic condition :)

Steph said...

I got to thinking about that more and more... the thing is, you just want the feeling to be over so badly, that it makes it feel even longer.

There is no adrenaline or endorphin high with heartache/heartbreak like there can be with physical pain, well moreso with new injuries I guess.

I have one bad knee, and what I worry about is how it will hold up as my body ages. Will I have arthritis?

Like DTG, it'll just go out for the fun of it every once in a while, and there you are, on the floor.

All This Trouble... said...

OH, one tear can equal an entire ocean of tears if you do it right. I have no sisters, no brothers. I have trouble finding middle ground between strong and stone. I am a nurse. I have bad knees. I love your Mama, even though I've never met her in person. Even though I am intimately acquainted with pain, it confuses me. I could go on and on....

Today, I read your entry about Lily and I cried again. But don't think I'm sad. I'm very happy. For Lily, for you, for myself...

honeyluna said...

Oh Miss Maybelle, the Belle of May, the light of the day, the sweet airy flight of the strong wings of the hummingbird at play.
Haha, I don't know where that came from.

What's funny is when it comes pain, I usually feel like such a complainer and whiner, and so when I think of you with smashed legs and constant pain, I feel so useless and sorry to ever mention that I can't squat all the way. I understand your words and I love your honesty. And thank you for the encouraging words. To tell the truth, I am almost as excited about getting back from Jamaica and going to the doctor to get surgery (or whatever they can do) as I am about going to Jamaica.
I love you so!

honeyluna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
May said...

SJ- I think you're right about it being a chronic condition. I can be very silly but it's usually a reaction to the people I'm with. When I want to lighten up I generally lighten my hair. Hmmm, maybe I'm missing the point.
Steph- What a great observation about endorphins (or lack thereof) and heartbreak! I never thought of that before! So true. Maybe that's why emotional pain seems worse than physical pain.
And the thing about falling down because of the bum knee- yeah, it's like gravity has failed you or something. Back when I was a drunk and I'd stumble I'd say "I'm not drunk!". Now I still fall and I still think that every time. 'Cept now it's true.
All This Trouble-Sometimes what we feel is so big it spills out our eyes. I think those of us who feel that bigness are the lucky ones.

May said...

HoneyLuna, you silly sweet girl. I am excited for both your big things! Will you email us while you are gone? Will you post? Please?
Oh, and I don't know about you but today I feel pretty good.

adrienne said...

the moon clan is so very, very lucky. so clear that there is warmth.

is it the heat, or the humidity?

something tells me i would like to share in that moonlight/midnight painless gift as well. enjoy.

p.s. i LOVE juancho's profile pic! happy anniversary 'do the right thing!"