The Familiar Swaddling

When Lazarus heard his name
he took a sudden breath.
With visceral trembling blood resurged.
But then, as when awakening some days,
he lay a moment, mired,
reluctant to rise from the familiar
swaddling of his death
Rising, even more than dying,
there could be no return:
for if he chose to stand,
all he knew would then be lost

And still now every morning,
each momentary wish for healing
is a risk, a wakening call
to change, to choose,
to leave so much behind,
and be again made new.
__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be well. That first day I woke up in so much pain I wished to die was over six years ago now. I first faced up to my mental health challenges a decade in the past when I was in such a hard place that I couldn't deny it anymore. This particular debilitating challenge has been with me for a year and a half now.

I worry that I won't know what to do with being well. How will I process being able to sit through a play or beers with my friends without considering how many days of pain it will take me to recover? I'm in full on stockholm syndrome. Not that I have affection for the pain, but I'd long gone crazy without some sort of psychological alliance with the thing holding me captive on my couch or curled up in the fetal position in bed.

Of course it's not like this every day. There are days when I feel good. When I can do a few loads of dishes and fold the towels. There are days I can convince myself I'm well and I don't need to consider the repercussions of my actions.

But these days are few.

Physical therapy is working on the position of my torso and rib cage. I'm doing different exercises to make sure my diaphragm is working correctly. As I've said before, we know this is a problem, but we don't know that it's the problem.
But I think I know it isn't.

The muscles in my side ache like they should after use in physical therapy exercises, but beneath that is the ache I'm familiar with. The ache that holds me hostage. And when I overdo it, as I tend to do at least once a week, the muscle cramps are new, but they don't cover the sharp pain reminding me I've been upright too long.

I see a new pain management doctor in a few weeks. The former one left for a leadership position at another hospital. He's cheerfully backed his way out of my exam room for the last time. I'm trying to be positive, hopeful that the new doctor will have a plan.

But it is so hard to imagine a day I will 'leave so much behind, and be made new,' again.

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