My BFF Erin wrote about finding “The New Normal” after becoming Chronically Ill. I cried as I empathized in so many ways, but instead of wallowing, I decided she would inspire me to write about my own New Normal.
the realization that i was never going to be the “Real Me” i conceptually idealized as what i was really like actually happened just a couple of months ago. my family doesn’t see me often due to distance, but i make sure to maintain a healthy phone and written contact with them. one day, on the phone, my father said, “You always sound so drugged, at this last Christmas you were practically a zombie you were so drugged. I don’t know, maybe this is the New Christine we have to get used to.”
my heart went static like an old UHF TV screen buzzed. we used to call it a “bee race,” “My bee is winning!” all my bees stopped and looked at each other: “are we drugged out now?”
i’ve been some version of chronically ill since 2002, but i always thought rehab would get me back to using my mouse with my right hand… ok, to hiking… hmm, to standing? how about just sitting, ok? let’s freakin sit, in a chair, designed for long-term ergonomic comfort fancier than all the thrones my boss bought the other staff. how about WEAR SHOES! SHOES. on my FEET. WEARING.
Chronic Pain is laughable it’s so ridiculous. i… i don’t know if i can describe? telling you all the modified versions of Christines won’t do the point, and hell, i can’t even remember all the Christines i’ve lost so many! i’m like a paper doll, but instead of getting dressed, layers and layers of Victorian doll drawings of dresses are being removed from me. the shoes. the skirt. the blouse. the pantaloons. the stockings. and finally, the corset that was holding it all together. now i stand holding a parasol and faking a paper smile, disappearing in a weak breeze.
then, it all begins again. grieving Christine is a constant process, not just with each layer of paper doll clothes, but just random. some days “i have to take the elevator,” is just i can’t take stairs. other days it’s “god, i fail at STAIRS. CHILDREN take stairs with aplomb!” some days it’s “hahahah! i forgot my pain meds and the lights look like they’re blinking!” other days: “holy shit it is NOT. OK. for lights to blink!”
here’s a thought: dealing with Chronic Pain is as complicated as rolling a handful of a 32-sided die, a pyramid die, and sundry other 12- and 16- sided dice from Dungeons & Dragons and trying to interpret the Elf Damage or something. the taste of the candy red #32, the prescience of the pale blue pyramid, a green 16 like mint jelly–variables upon variables, flavors, delights, enticements, failures… confusion. ultimately, confusion.
so basically every day is my first day playing Dungeons and Dragons to determine my shield and sword strength and powers of magic potions. some are weak as sprinkling dirt on my head, and others are wode and ululations–who knows which day’s Normal is? at least i have no clue; maybe i seem transparent to the people who call me druggie–i think that’s a roll of the pink 13 sided die.
PS, to read Erin’s post on Normal and check out her blog, head here.