Somehow the pain slowly becomes a part of your dream. The mind is s wondrous thing, able to construct a narrative from just about anything, combining sensory input along with half-remembered events to weave a tapestry of impressions, some of which reveal hidden details about the lives we lead. The actors, once just travelling companions, now take on a sinister air, especially one. Wasn’t he once your friend? Steadily, though, the pain edges all else aside and your eyes open to the darkened room. It’s 3 AM and with a sigh you acknowledge the temporary presence of that occasional visitor.
Always the same pattern—it builds to a maximum somewhere on a line between the middle of your shoulder blades and the bottom of the sternum, radiating outward, hard to pinpoint for sure. Not throbbing, just constant. No relief, not over-the-counter meds, not movement. Opioids would do it but, on balance, they’re not worth it. Sure they’ll drive the visitor out but they’ll leave the door open for something even worse to sneak in. Best to wait as it will go when it’s ready.
Pace the floor, go to the couch, pace again, lie in bed, pace some more and finally surrender to the ever-present nausea. Each cycle lasts for 20 minutes or so and you know there’ll be many. Finally, exhausted you sink back into the couch, “Have to try and settle.” Hands by your sides with closed eyes you try and find the epicenter; make it yours. Focus on it and say, “it’s not that bad. It will pass.” Try to think about something else.
That buys a few more hours. A shower, hot as you can stand, a temporary relief. As you dry off you become aware of it again, just as strong but somehow now as if you are facing it anew, rested from the battle. It’s daylight now so you try to read. A half-page at a time is how it goes. It grows with each word but midway down each page you look up and stare at the wall as if to release it. Do it again.
Fifty or so pages in you realize you’re no longer looking up anymore. Somewhere during the last chapter the visitor quietly left. You put the book down, settle back, close your eyes and just breathe softly feeling your chest rise and fall.
A new day, one filled with renewed hope, awaits.