Today I had a rather unfortunate run-in with a piece of concrete hidden in a snow drift. As has happened many times before, I was on the ground before I really knew what happened. This incident caused me to cut my adventuring short, and I trudged home through six inches of snow to somewhat ironically get some ice from my wrist.
The worst of winter is not even upon us yet, but I’m already so tired of being careful of that whole “dangerous business of leaving your front door” thing. At times I feel like I shouldn’t go anywhere without being encased in foam padding over a thick layer of bubble wrap. One would think that having surgery before the onset of winter two years in a row I would be used to this sort of thing, but the opposite is true. As time has passed–especially since the first insertion of surgical hardware in the summer of 2011–the less my body seems like it is mine.
I can’t predict when the pain comes, or (for the most part) why. I have had to make significant changes to what I do in my leisure time because of pain as well. My body does not behave like it used to.
I have had to cut out working out and playing team sports because the increased heart rate elevates my pain levels to a point where I was being active while on pain killers, which is probably a bad thing. I am now not able to play soccer because my wrist will no longer allow me to throw in the ball. Trying to (re)learn how to ski or snowboard this winter is again out of the question, as is going cross country skiing or snowshoeing. I don’t think I will ever be able to windsurf again, and it appears most sports are also out of the question.
I like sports and being active, but for a long time now, doing so either is painful or comes with the threat of injury. On “good” days, days where I’m not in pain, there is a significant discord between what my body is actually capable of doing and what I want to do. Part of it is of course because I am in terrible shape, but I’m in such terrible shape because I have chronic pain. Whomever said “wherever there’s a will there’s a way” is a liar. My body does not cooperate like it used to.
Adding to all of this is the fact that I still cannot use my DSLR because 1) it is painful for me to do so and 2) it’s against my surgeon’s instructions. I’ve had my camera for nearly seven years: I consider it an extension of myself and when I’m outside my thoughts drift to photo composition. Not being able to hold it in my hands has made me feel lost, like the body I inhabit is not my own.
I miss being able to do what “normal/regular” (read: able bodied) people can do: I miss feeling like a young person and not someone in old age, and I miss being able to cut my own food rather than having an adult do it for me. I also miss the creativity and artistic expression that comes with photography. My mind cannot collaborate with my body like it used to.
I’m nearly halfway through my recovery from my most recent surgery, and I am still waiting for a day where I don’t need painkillers. I’m almost to the point where I would see that as a luxury, even though I know that it’s not, or not supposed to be. As I start to move into the more active part of the recovery–where I can actually use my wrist–I know I’m looking to a future that includes more pain. I hope that the pain will be short-term, but I have a feeling I do not think I will ever be truly pain-free again.
No matter what the status of my future pain is or is not, my wrist has been surgically altered: fourteen screws, two metal plates, bone and cartilage removal, a bone craft and several scars. My body does not look like I remember it used to.
Now that the swelling has decreased, I can touch where the metal plate is attached to the bones in my hand and forearm. It is hard-edged, rigid and alien to me now. My body literally does not feel like it used to.
How does someone become comfortable in their own body when their own body is preventing them from being able to find comfort?