“You need to make more time for your friends Andy. You can’t work all the time. Just like you make time for yoga and exercise, you need to make time to socialize. Grab a beer. Stretch the legs.”
Quietly I read these words again and I filled up.
With these wise words Lisa kind of obligated me to write this blog. Because she’s right…
(I said it. I just told the woman she’s right. This is going to hunt me for days!)
But she makes a point that is not only sweet but that’s true appreciation. I was touched. Flattered. She spoke her mind and I loved her for it. Still, I couldn’t give her a yes as an answer…
I do have an excuse though, I think…
I live a life of limitations. Not because I want to nor choose to, but because my body has to. It has limitations on what stress it can handle on one day. Stress in standing, sitting, hearing or any form of contact with any form of substance. I have severe nerve damage from my lower back to my legs and that brings a whole disco of feelings with it. Forcing it will pay back in pain. Pain that some days I love for it pushes me to accomplish things that didn’t seem possible two years ago. Pain that some days I hate for it will penetrate so deep in my day-to-day activity that just a word can shatter all my hopes and believes (be it for short periods of time. I am that stubborn!) That pain I is the pain I have to deal with. Alone. If I’m going to be in pain, it has to be of my choosing and for my benefit. So I lift weights. I bang cans, I paint wood and listen to loud music to keep the white noise out.
Explaining this to Lisa I realized nobody exactly knows my pain because I never told her, them except for my mother. I don’t want to dwell in pain, weakness or any other form of negatives (like pity.) By not talking about it I make it as non-existent as possible till it slaps me in the face. The only ones seeing this are my parents as they see my smile fade now and then. I also realized by not sharing this, I lock people out who try to be part of my existence. Who try to be a friend. So let me show you my appreciation by letting you in on one of my few secrets.
Let me first explain where and how I have pain, pains to be more precise.
First my lower back, it becomes sore and stressed by sitting in wrong ways (which, unfortunately, is most chairs.) Second, my right groin (to more exact, from my right testicle to my right knee). This pain is the worst! It has many ways to express its feelings of discomfort to me. (It’s like a nagging child that doesn’t get what it wants, so it rolls over the ground, crying, yelling, stomping their feet.) Sitting is very (very, very, very) uncomfortable. Many times straight up painful due to the amount of pressure on the muscles in my groin and there for it feels very “nasty” on my nerves. The pain varies from pressure to stinging to even carving a very sharp blade through my right groin like you fillet a fish (and now imagine this for hours and hours like one of those horror movies.) Once this pain takes over it comes with headaches or even difficulty breathing and there is no comfort for it other than to stretch like your sanity depends on it (believe me, it does.) (I can’t compare it to anything other than want to stick a knife in my leg and pull the nerves out one by one. Now place yourself in public while you’re feeling these wonderful sensations.)
Then there is my sciatica on my left side. It’s a long nerve from your spine towards the tip of your toes. This pain, slash discomfort (I don’t want to sound too whiny, but damn!) is an annoyance in my left buttock/hip, painful tight in my hamstring, block or tightens my ankle (these are the reasons why I limp) and constantly feel like something cold or burning is “flossing” or “running” in my leg. You can make that legs actually.
If this still isn’t enough to keep me occupied, I have a twinkling sensation in both my thighs, calves and feet, deep into my soles. (These are the cause of my imbalance and make me look and feel like a drunk pirate the whole day.) It literally sucks the energy out of me. It can literally destroy my thinking progress. Many times “the man with the hammer” comes unexpectedly to knock me on my knees. If I refuse to listen he knocks me of my feet end kicks me while I’m down (why not? Mother nature wouldn’t be fun if she wasn’t cruel.) Recovery is as gruesome as the pain it self. The absolutely worst is, I can’t stand feeling weak *Insert exclamation mark(s)* So I smile. I smile that
damn pain away because it could be worse.
Are you tired yet? Fed up reading?
Hold on, almost there… (Let’s keep this party going as we are on the subject.)
I have a hearing problem with my left ear that let’s me absorb all the background noises but not what you are telling me straight in my face. So I focus so hard to keep contact with you, reading your lips and hearing what you are telling me while I block the rest of the world, my pains (and always thinking brain) out. Still, after an hour(s) my head starts exploding. I get tired standing but can’t sit because my groin feels like skinned meat. I can’t stand straight much longer, because my hamstrings feel like they’re about to snap. My left knee hurts because of the pressure on it. My head starts banging even harder and now comes even the worst part…
I need to use the rest rooms but I can’t unless I use a catheter.
A catheter brings the risk of infections (after a couple I know they make my life even more fun and challenging so why not) so let’s us these very hygienic places to stick a 40 centimeter tube in my wiener and act like it’s all peachy (I let a friend watch once and he left the party within minutes, he’s black but turned so pale everybody noticed and asked what happened.) It makes me restless yet I stay calm. I’m the pirate! Nobody messes with that attitude but my body grows tired if I want it or not (age is probably also a factor, ehm…)
Now comes the next and last part…
I want to leave. But wait, I don’t have a car nor a driver’s license so I can’t leave because somebody has to bring me home and I live in the middle of the bush bush and this makes me feel guilty for them leaving wherever we are. Even when I get home it isn’t over, it’s the start of one to two hours nerves ripping my sanity apart while they find their zen back and the house party in my head calms back down after I take a dosage of Temazepam and do breathing exercises.
So when I say no to you, I say yes to myself. I say no to 1 or even 2 days (or even a week) of recovery, but I say yes to your gesture. I appreciate it much more than you’ll understand. However, I learned that everything I do, whether I like it or not, I pay for eventually. Physically. Today, tomorrow or even the day after that.
I did find a way to deal with all of this though. It’s been a puzzle of three years and something. Of sitting in cars waiting for people to drive me home. Of sitting in corners and acting like I’m fine. Till this January the missing piece fell right in my lap after a week of meditation trying to recover from an over excited Christmas week and new years eve. It’s called “balance.” It’s this magical thing. It’s giving me the strength to get through a day by eating healthy, exercise hard, create good pains while lessen the bad and breathing deeply. Oh and rest of course (funny how as an adult you suddenly appreciate naps.) I do what I can do because I give it my all. I work hard! Train hard! Rest hard! Often I push my limits so far that I’m too tired to feel pain when I finally rest otherwise it hurts even more when I lie down.
So, it’s not you. It’s not you I say no to, it’s the pain, the discomfort. The loss of not just one night, the day(s) following behind it. I know I’m not the best at socializing, I’m not the best-est of friend. I am a true friend though and give you an answer honestly. I don’t like whining and can’t stand weakness so I smile. I smile through all this pain as if it’s nothing. I smile because it’s my medicine. It’s my hope.
I let you into my life without any doubt but I like to keep all that pain out of it. So…
I’m not saying no to you, I’m saying yes to tomorrow. I’m saying yes to life!