In my last post, I mentioned that I received nerve blocks. Nerve blocks aren’t extremely effective at high pain levels but they do accomplish one thing when combined with DHE and Midrin… they grant the recipient a tiny bit of humanity. People tend to take things for granted when they can do them all the time without having to plan carefully. Bathing, for instance, seems like a normal activity… but as many of you who also suffer with some form of chronic pain may know, bathing can suck the life right out of you. Showers require standing, and the water hurts my skin. Baths can be too hot and overwhelming sometimes. By the third day of wiping down with unscented baby wipes and maybe putting on fresh pajamas (but usually not, hey… our germs are clean germs, right?) you don’t feel like a human being who can just roll out of bed and face the world.
Putting on makeup is another thing that becomes a mysterious luxury. As a makeup addict, I used to revel in my purple eye shadows and my false lashes and my magical primers that kept everything in place all night. Now, though, it’s just such a chore…and fuck makeup hurts. My skin isn’t used to it. My left eye (THE OFFENDER) begins watering when I simply pick up a makeup brush, let alone attempt applying the damned stuff. If I go all out, I know I will be miserable and self conscious about my leaking left eye the entire evening. I don’t bother unless it’s an occasion. Tinted moisturizer with some SPF in it is my daily routine. I shudder that I just wrote that sentence. I used to never leave the house without mascara… ever.
But this past weekend I got a little bit of that old me back, for just a minute, or… well… I got something. Describing it as the old me isn’t precisely accurate, because the old me was not a happy person. The old me was just as miserable as the me who has been in pain for two years with this stupid mysterious brain thing. This past weekend, I think I caught a glimpse of who I am with less pain and less sadness and less anxiety and less weight on my shoulders.
And this weekend I realized that I didn’t want to die any more.
I haven’t actively wanted to kill myself. I’ve never had a plan. I’d never do that to my family. But I sure as hell haven’t wanted to wake up in the morning for well over a year now, and I’m just going to be honest about that right here. I’ve wanted to die. I’ve wanted to not be alive. I’ve wanted to not exist. Being in pain all the time stripped the will to live right on out of me and the only things keeping me going have been my husband and my son and my two dogs, and when my mother died I was pretty much done with this world. I just didn’t see the point anymore. Food has tasted bad in my mouth. Things have smelled bad. Colours have been greyed out. I have been very ready.
Earlier this year, when Dr. H. wanted me to have an MRI because she had concerns, I was scared… but I was also relieved. My husband and I had a big argument the week before that MRI happened because I wanted him with me. What I wasn’t telling him was that I wanted to spend time with him because I was ready to go and I needed to say goodbye to him. I was ready for something to be majorly wrong with my brain. I was ready for a tumor or cancer or anything that would just make it all… stop.
Pain is a terrible friend. It talks you into all kinds of things when you hang out with it long enough.
Next month will mark on year since my mother said no to pain. She stopped her radiation and chemotherapy and she died quietly with my step-father at her side. She and my step-father always helped with a gold tournament, in fact, he directed it for a number of years and she ran the show from behind the scenes. They’re honouring my mother by naming the tournament after her this year and having a big dinner at the country club. It’s all huge to do. It’s very touching, and a reminder that my mother was a human being outside of being my mother… that for all of her flaws… she was loved and accomplished and had a zest for life.
Two Psychologists have been ignoring the fact that I’m in mourning and Dr. B. was calling my constant talk about dying normal for the amount of pain I’m in, but the Psychologists at the Jefferson Headache Center focused in on it and on my depression and put me on medication and told me they weren’t going to let me feel less than human anymore. My art therapist, T.W. (I still haven’t asked what to call her, T.? Seems weird and informal to me. AHHH! Artsy informality wigs me out. But I’m an artsy person! Bleh,) immediately focused on all of the loss in my life, from the loss of my brothers when I was six onward. She recognizes trauma and wants to help me through it and to heal. She’s gentle and has a plan and she has helped me recapture some of my self over the past few weeks. I feel like I am in good hands with her, Dr. H., and with Jefferson.
So there is this big anniversary, or deathiversary coming up. I had a little relief from pain this weekend. I wasn’t pain free, but I was a little lighter, so to speak. And I’ve had all of this, well, this shit going through my head about death and dying and not existing for over a year and then the following happened.
Friday night, my husband and I went to a burlesque show. This in and of itself was not abnormal. I love burlesque. I love women. I love boobs. I love sparkly things. I love dance. I love camp. Burlesque has all of that. This particular show benefited Locks of Love, which is a charitable organization that makes wigs for children with cancer. I donated my hair to Locks of Love in 2001 when it was down to my waist. I cut it to shoulder length at that time because my son, who was a baby, would use it as a weapon against me. The next time I cut my hair really short was in 2003, after my son’s biological father had beaten me up. I was a very single mom trying to hold down a job, and make grown-up decisions that I wasn’t necessarily prepared to make.
After the show, some of the performers donated their hair. They also targeted some of the rocker guys in the audience (the theme of the show was “Hair Metal”) and those poor souls were called up on stage while my salon (oddly enough, it was the salon I go to!) put their hair into pony tails and hacked away at them.
Then something terrifying happened.
One of the Bombshell calendar kittens pointed at me and said, “You have long hair!”
I was seated in the second row with my husband. I was wearing a denim pencil skirt (because… hair metal… I try to dress to theme) and four inch heels (with a 1 inch platform, let’s not get crazy now) that I had no business walking in front of people in. I put my hand on my chest. I looked at my husband. He shrugged.
Like a zombie, I sluggishly made my way to the stage and then teetered up the very narrow and non-high-heel friendly steps of the stage and waited my turn. Then a girl wearing a tiny pink corset, a pink fur bolero, and tinier black shorts put my hair in a pony tail and whacked off all of my hair in front of an audience full of people.
I know the producer of the show, and she found me after to tell me that Bombshell would give me half off of anything I wanted… so I got a cute bob and some lilac mini-highlights. Now I have funky-coloured hair that my mother would hate that I’m going to walk into the country club with. She’d just die.
My husband has decided to dye his hair green.
I’ve started a whole thing.
And now the part where I don’t want to die anymore.
When my hair came off, and then when I went to the salon and got funky-coloured hair that I’d never have been able to have at my old corporate job… something suddenly felt free inside me. Something lifted. Suddenly, I felt good about myself.
Back in 2003, when I cut off all of my hair and bleached my apartment walls and changed everything about myself to rid myself of my son’s father and that terrible relationship… I became someone I really liked. I went through another “rebirth” in 2005, and another in 2010.
Now I am starting another phase, and I am going to run with it. I wouldn’t say I’m happy. But I feel hopeful for the first time in a little while.