Still, After All This Time

About a month ago, I wrote about living back from the edge and within that, about the slow coming back granted me by Enbrel and Humira. Well, in the beginning, it wasn't slow. In the beginning, there was something new every day that I could do again, every day I laughed with the rediscovery of movements and signs of returning strength, often small, but yet so very large. Then it changed to a more gradual building of strength and stamina, new things noticed every three days or so and although I missed the incandescent joy of daily being given another piece of my life back, knowing I had built a certain level of core strength was a deeper happiness. As time went on, I no longer saw reminders of improvement and thought I had come as far as I could go and it was okay. Especially when I remembered B.B. (Before Biologics) and I settled into my life doing my best to focus on what I could do.

And then it happened again. A small sign, a small thing and sometimes a larger thing I could do again.

I got my mail. For a long time, leaning out over my left armrest, stretching out my arm, inserting the key, rooting around in the mailbox for the mail and locking the mailbox again had done something in my shoulder, had flipped a tendon over a bone spur perhaps, had strained structures in my shoulder causing pain that lasted for days, so I had relied on others to help me get my mail. One day, when I hadn't been able to find somebody to give me a hand, I did it myself. And although there was pain in the movement, as there is pain in everything I do, it didn't last. The next day, I tried again and again, it didn't wreck my shoulder. I have been picking up my mail myself for a couple of months now and every time I do, a small silent place within me rejoices.

I got a job. I keep forgetting how much energy is needed to hold down a job, even a very part-time one, keep forgetting to pay attention to what I can do again and it wasn't until I decided I needed balance, needed to normalize my personal life as well as my professional one that I realized what I have regained. For several years, most of my friendships were maintained by the phone, only once in a while was I able to spend a few hours with a friend and would always need to rest the next day. These days, I try to arrange dinner or hanging out with a friend once a week or so and have discovered that I don't need to rest the next day. Recently, I've even spent a whole day with company and was only a little tired the next day. I haven't spent a whole day with someone in at least six years, if not more, and I’m still reeling that I can.

And last Thursday, when the latest attempted repair pushed me over the edge and into the place where my shoulder and elbow screamed almost as loudly as they did when it first got hurt over a year ago, so loud and so intense for several days that I came thisclose to the crying point. I tried to write, had a deadline to meet and my brain could barely string two words together, locked behind a wall of pain and painkillers, getting through the day a big enough job and through it all, the small part of me that wasn't busy dealing with the nastiness marveled at how I’d forgotten how much energy it takes to be in a lot of pain. Which meant, I realized, that I hadn't experienced pain of that magnitude for months. Sure, there'd been pain and low energy and trouble accessing my brain, but I had been at the swearing point, didn't remember seeing the crying point for a really long time. And in this remembered and re-experienced state of pain, I found that deep, silent joy again.

Over four years later and I'm still improving.