Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rate Your Pain

   "Rate your pain on a scale from 1-10."

   I have been asked this question a million times this week. As some of you know, I have been in the hospital since Monday. I was supposed to be here for radioactive iodine treatment, but I ended up with shingles instead. Even before this week though, I asked myself that question every morning. The question was prompted by a still from Breaking Bad that got stuck in my head, along with a line from a twenty one pilots song, "Before You Start Your Day."

   Doctors and nurses always ask me to rate my pain. I have done this so many times. When I have a headache, I rate it. I rate all my physical pain. But I had never considered my emotional pain. At least, not until this last week. 

   I'm not sure how much of this will make sense. But my sister has a motto she shared with me, that she learned from a teacher in school. "If it's mentionable, it's manageable." It's the philosophy that says if you can find the strength in you to mention the pain, you are strong enough to deal with it. It means all you need is that initial strength to speak, then you can be free. You can get through it.

   "Look in the mirror and ask your soul if you're alright." That's the line from the twenty one pilots song. Some odd combination of all these things made me think about the way I view pain and how I label it. Recently I have been in pain and every morning I decided I would ask myself if I was okay. I have started every morning and ask myself to rate my pain. 1-10. Some days I would wake up and be a 2. Maybe a 5. Some terrible mornings it was a 10. But it varied. I could have a 10 every day for a few days but then it would go back down to a 1. It wouldn't stay the same. I sort of came up with my own philosophy that allows me to acknowledge how much pain I'm in on any given day. To put a number to it. I'm honest with myself about where I am. I can say "Yes, this is a 10." And that simple thing, it carries me. It lets me feel everything and to be upset. I'm not scared to cry or to admit that today is a bad day. I think that helps me appreciate the good days even more. It also helps me to see that pain is temporary. That things will change and how I'm feeling one minute might not be how I'm feeling the next. But I think it's important to allow yourself to feel pain and acknowledge it. That's what I've been doing.

   So I'm writing this from my hospital bed where my physical pain is a 1 and my emotion pain is a only a 3.

   But I don't want to write about my being sick. I wanted to write about art and how this has been what makes my pain level decrease significantly. I've been creating art like my life depends on it, because in so many ways, it does. My survival has hinged on my ability to write incredibly over dramatic poetry. I take photos like it's the last time I'll ever get to hold a camera. Much like Alexander Hamilton, I've been writing like I'm running out of time. It was so bad that the day after I won NaNoWriMo (just barely dragging myself across the finish line at 50,022 words.) I started the fourth draft of Forlorn Hope. There is just this need in my bones to make something. I have almost drawn through an entire sketchbook that, prior to this summer, I hadn't touched since 2014. My body has been waking me up at ungodly hours of the night to write poetry. I mean, I will jolt awake at 3am and impulsively grab my phone, and jot out an entire poem while I'm half asleep. In the morning when I read them, I actually love them. I feel like if I stop creating even for just one second, my heart will collapse. Art has been the one thing that has brought me relief.

   I think, for the first time, I'm starting to consider myself an artist. Because things inspire me and there are things I want to say with these pieces. I have a perspective that is unique to me and art to me is different than art to other people. But I am so thankful for all the people that have inspired me in these ways. Really, I'm thankful for my heartache, because it's when my heart is the most broken that I create the most beautiful works. But someone said something to me that has stuck with me. "I hope happiness makes you write. Not just your suffering."

   (Enjoy some of the art I have made in my pain. And soon I'll post the art I make in my joy.)

   (Also I blame to incoherence of this post on the pain killers.)

   "The Pain In The Heart."
The pain in my heart 
Feels like the pain in my head 
And the pain in my knees 
And the twisted feeling inside my stomach 
And the trembling of my hands
And the weakness in my legs
The pain in my soul
Burns like the hot tears 
Streaming down my feverish skin
And the bile coming up my throat 
And the acid reflux in my lungs 
The pain killers only touch The symptoms
But they can't touch the core
The pain killers do nothing 
But this pain is killing me 
Some days it's a 5 but others it's a 10 
Some days it's moderate 
But somedays it is the worst possible pain
My body lashes out against the tightness in my chest 
The pain in my heart 
Becomes the pain in my head 
And this sickness is controlling 
It's taking my life
But the physical problems are easier to manage
Because Tramadol takes the edge off of the throbbing
And ice eases the aches in my muscles 
But my heart is alone 
To deal with its pain 
The pain in my heart
And the pain in my head








4 comments:

  1. You're a fighter, girl. Thank you for sharing your vulnerabilities and being so very honest! I love that the idea of ranking your pain has allowed you to take control of it. "It lets me feel everything and to be upset" - there is something beautiful in allowing yourself to feel whatever you are feeling authentically, without fear. Praying for you! Keep fighting, keep writing, keep creating. You are an artist!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just stumbled across your blog. It inspires me. I've only read this one post, but you write beautifully and communicate vulnerabilities, strength and hope through your writing. I particularly liked what your sister told you: "If it's mentionable, it's manageable." It's the philosophy that says if you can find the strength in you to mention the pain, you are strong enough to deal with it. It means all you need is that initial strength to speak, then you can be free. You can get through it." I've asked myself and my friends the same rating question you have, but it's a happiness rating- "On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the happiest, how happy are you?" I like this rating system. I feel that a number reveals so much more than the common "happy" or "sad" reply.

    You've also shared some very powerful images.

    Stay strong
    Steph

    www.socialspying.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. that was an amazing poem. I honestly loved it very, very much!
    Stay strong!
    Mironiel.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You make such beauty out of your pain! Your inspirational!

    ReplyDelete