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One of the most tedious and depressing aspects of suffering from chronic illness with pain is that it is ever present. It's there in the morning when I awaken. It's most definitely present at night when I am trying to go to sleep. I sure would like a day off now and then. The terms of this arrangement are not at all to my liking, but I was not really consulted. Life somehow slipped one over on me. Gradually, over the course of the last few years, I have realized my body is not my friend. After chafing over it, grieving, crying and generally kicking up a fuss, I have reached the conclusion that life is ticking away, day after day, tick tock, tick tock. Pain or no pain, this is my life and I'd better "get over myself" and get on with the business of living.

Many years ago, when I was a nursing student, I spent some time in a mental hospital. Let me emphasize I was a student nurse, not a patient, although there were times it was difficult to discern one of us from one of them. There was one particular patient who has remained in my memory because of his unusual behavior. I know, everyone in there had unusual behavior, but this gentleman definitely went to the head of the class. Each morning he would walk over to the light switch on the wall and make a pronouncement, in a loud voice, "The word of the day is ----." Then he would go to the next light switch and inform it of the word of the day.

I can't share what those words were because they were always colorful, you know, those words, if used, which would push your mom to the edge of reason. She would threaten to wash your mouth out with soap if she ever heard you utter them. Apparently, this particular fellow didn't have a mother or there was no soap in the house he grew up. I don't have all the details about him, these many years later, but I certainly do remember his behavior.

There are days I think of that mental patient when the many health problems I have spring these annoying surprises on me. "The malady of the day is..." Sometimes it is a direct result of what I did the day before: lifting heavy grocery bags, standing on my feet too long during a trip to Costco, hauling a load of laundry upstairs, and the list goes on. I usually am unrepentant because I made the choice to perform these acts of daily life. I do tire of the consequences always being there, however, but the daily acts of life are what keep me going. People buy stair climbers. I have two flights of stairs between our clothes closets and the washing machine. Some people lift weights for strength training - actually, I do, and I also like to think lifting groceries is similar to weight lifting. How many times have you seen some fitness expert on TV tell you to lift a can of peas or its equivalent? There you have it. For that reason, I never accept help from the friendly bag man at Safeway. I try to park fairly far away from the entrance to get some walking in.

I'm not masochistic, just realistic. Maybe I am also more than a little scared. I'm afraid of a day when I might not be able to do things for myself ,and I wage a fierce battle daily with that fear in the back of my mind.

Sometimes, the malady of the day cannot be traced back to some action I performed. I struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, and it can awaken me with cramps and pain. Sometimes joints, particularly my ankles and knees can become very painful and swollen. Last night, it was my right heel and Achilles tendon that kept me awake, just from driving the car to run errands yesterday. My opinion is if my body is going to treat me this badly when I've tried to be on friendly terms with it, then this is war. If you're reading this, then you must have some malady of your own, am I right? Let's fight this battle together. I'll share my answers with you and would like to know how your battle is waging.


Last Updated:9/4/2006
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