Two weekends ago I saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. I went in with the expectation that it was going to be your standard Michael Bay film: lots of action, lots of explosions, some plot holes and some cheesy dialogue. What I got was action, explosions, plot holes, cheesy dialogue and misidentifying turtle species. I’m also not sure why the turtles’ heads were so small compared to the rest of their bodies (was it the ‘roids [mutagen]?). That bring said it wasn’t all bad: there were some goofy jokes that reminded me of the humour from the animated series. But the remake definitely lacked the gritty charm of the original (as well as the sequel and even the third film).
But back to the main point of my post.
Living with chronic pain makes me feel like “sort of like a big turtle in a trench coat.” In the original films and the cartoon, when the turtles would leave the sewer they would don trench coats and fedoras, which seemed to hide their body shapes and faces enough that they could blend in with human New Yorkers (though I never understood why no one ever recognized that they weren’t wearing shoes…). In short, the turtles were out in plain sight and poorly disguised, yet no one seemed the wiser.
In a way, I feel similar. When I’m having a bad pain day it’s written pretty clearly on my face: my jaw is clenched, my nose scrunched, my brows furrowed, my eyes shut, my face more pale, and I usually talk less than normal. I try to disguise my pain, but I can only keep the proverbial mask on my face for so long.
When I manage the pain with heavy duty pain killers one mask ends up getting replaced for another. I don’t have the mental capacity to think in a way that’s normal to me–I have to really concentrate to be articulate and it takes a lot of effort to connect ideas together–so I tend to talk even less. I’m either drinking ridiculous quantities of coffee or struggling to stay awake (sometimes drinking lots of coffee and still barely staying awake). I often come across as apathetic but I’m not: I find that trying to function on pain killers is like trying to navigate through fog. It’s an incredibly frustrating way to exist because the drugs change how you exist, act and react in each and every way.
In short, when my pain levels are high I am not myself, yet look enough like myself that it seems that most people don’t notice. I suppose that’s a good thing.
It seems as though only those who have chronic pain have any understanding and are able to see the masks I often wear, because they maintain the same disguises that I do. But it doesn’t make living any easier: pain is isolating.
However, when cooking is difficult it is conducive to ordering pizza.