For several months now, I have been fighting inflammation. I am going through many ups and downs, and a lot of disbelief. It’s hard for me to understand what my pain is telling me. I write, I post, not because sharing my pain is fun, but because I want to share my vulnerability. Also, I write by solidarity, since I know others experience pain daily and feel alone. Finally, I write for those, who like me, are connecting to and getting inspired by other people’s lives, to understand their own. Click here to read the start of my story on pain.
On days when my pain is at its peak, I feel like I taste death. As if my experience is getting closer to that of those who see their life fade slowly, while their brain is still fully active.
During the worst days, when the inflammation is at its maximum, I look back on my life and I can’t understand how it got here. I was fairly active, and suddenly I can do almost nothing. Those days start with the attempt to get out of bed – it is surprising how much muscular strength is needed for this simple action – then I get up, holding a piece of furniture. The bottom of my right foot hurts and my knees will not extend fully… and even if my body wants to stretch and clear out the last clouds of my sleep, I can’t. It hurts too much. I move to the washroom using walls, I sit on the toilet while holding the sink. To get up, I can’t rely on my legs, because the pain in my knees is too strong; I must use my hands to propel me. It goes without saying that the 2-3 days when my hands and wrists were hurting, going to the washroom became an even greater challenge. During my worst days, I must ask my boyfriend to help me get dressed. Putting on socks is the worst! How can you reach for your toes when nothing bends? Forget jeans; I prefer leggings and stretchy pants, or else I feel too stuck.
Afterwards, everything is about strategy and well-planned steps. Since each step is painful, I must calculate my every move. For example, to feed my cats, I pass by the freezer. Therefore, I take out a bag of frozen fruits for my smoothie. If I forget the fruits and I go back to the sink, behind the counter (about 15 steps away from the freezer), I change my breakfast plans. I feel unable to go back-and-forth, therefore I will eat a quinoa and oatmeal porridge. Before sitting down to eat, I make sure everything I need is on the table, because getting back up, off the chair, will demand a lot of effort.
Through the pain, I realize that the constituents of my daily life are not adapted to the infirmity caused by the inflammation. Some days, it is difficult for me to get into my shower-bath, because I must raise my leg too high; squeeze the tube of cream to wash my face, because my fingers are in too much pain and can’t open up; open a jam jar that is unsealed; bite a toast or cereals; open my mouth to make way for a spoon; go down or up the stairs; reach objects in my highest cupboards, since I can’t get on a step; find a chickpea can at the back of my pantry, because I can’t sit down…
To be honest, it’s during those days that getting older scares me. Because yes, let’s admit it, if this is what it means to get older, it’s frightening. When I am healthy and I feel zen and spiritual, getting older does not scare me. Let’s say it, it is now highly encouraged to accept life (and its course), as it is.
However, theorizing old age has nothing to do with experimenting the loss of autonomy throughout our body.
So to everyone, young and old, who is losing their autonomy for different reasons, I honor your every step. I hope you get seen and heard.
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