I imagine my pain as a black fungus that covers a forest floor. It began as an anomaly, a foreign invader to an ecosystem untouched by fire or drought. The conditions were perfect; greenery to wrap around and consume, branches and bark to latch onto, continuing the spread until the whole of my world was consumed by black, sticky fungus. I can burn it away with fire, cut it with a knife, but it will always come back. It is buried deep into the earth, into my body, and no matter which way I push it, it always comes back.
Some days are easier than others. It’s always been that way. Some days I feel like I could dance wildly, or clean the house for hours, or even go for a run.
Some days, not.
Yesterday was one of those days. Arthritis pain, muscular pain, zig-zagging lightning nerve pain. The black fungus spread another few inches through my body and made their home in my limbs and joints.
One of the most difficult things about chronic pain is the communication. How do you tell your loved ones that you feel like a foreign invader, a spirit that doesn’t belong in the body that is inherently yours? How do you explain that the pain reaches into your mind like long, limbering fingers and begins to poke and prod at you; a wild distraction.
We all have ways to fight it: Meditation, hobbies, music. But on days like that, when a reminder about pain is around every corner, music, writing, meditation… They don’t work. They have no place in that world. If anything they are an infuriating reminder that one’s body is abnormal at the very least, and an evolutionary mistake at the worst. And somehow, among the pain and the drugs and the tears, you have to find a way to explain this to your family and friends without swearing excessively or grabbing the nearest knife and waving it madly in front of you like a put-off Gordon Ramsey.
Sometimes there are no words. There is sadness and a sense of hopelessness, but no words. Because you’ve said it before, so many times. How often can you say that you are in pain and hope that it still has the same impact? It’s nothing. It’s just pain. Just every day, all-consuming pain.