THE PAIN climbed into my bed with me at midnight. I was planning on sleeping but THE PAIN wanted to party. So all of a sudden, I was the designated driver.
I rolled. I turned. I stretched, but THE PAIN climbed over me just the same, embracing me like a old diseased whore. I wanted to run, but THE PAIN trapped me. It was on me, in me, around me, part of me. There was no escape.
I forced myself to smile.
“It is just pain.” I whispered to myself in the dark shaking softly.
Suddenly, I hear the shuffle of my little Dog Roma, my protector. She was in the other bedroom with my girlfriend and she must have sensed, smelt the pain, so she came running. I lifted her up on to the bed, where she cuddled up under my arm. She was there to chase THE PAIN away. Yet THE PAIN would not run. THE PAIN simply dug her claws in deeper.
I needed to distract THE PAIN away. I reach over and open up my laptop. Hulu. I will watch TV. FRINGE. The HUMAN TARGET. I will get lost in a fantasy world where the good guy wins. I need to win here. I need to fucking win.
I watch the first HUMAN TARGET. Roma recuddles under me. I feel the pain but I am not focused on it. I am in another world. Thank you. Thank you, Lords of the Internet! I watch Fringe and then another Human Target. I feel it. I can’t stay lost there. THE PAIN is bringing me back to the here and now, here and now, no don’t feel it, no don’t think about it, being totally disabled, unable to walk for longer than 30 seconds, unable to lie comfortably, trying not to go into fear that this may actually be the end of my life as I know it, my job, my living arrangements, my girlfriend, and more.
“Take it a day at a time, Ken. A day at a time. See what is happening and make decisions then.”
DON’T GO INTO THE OLD FEELINGS. STAY PRESENT, KEN. NO OLD DRAMA!
One of the things that I learned from my experience of The People in my Hips is that most of the emotion that we experience on a day to day basis is actually a triggered response in the present moment bringing forth from our body/minds an emotional response from the past. Most emotion is not present-based. It is triggered in our bodies and then we ASSIGN it to our world and believe in it. I was determined not to go into OLD STUFF. If I got lost in OLD STUFF, I would never effectively deal with THE PAIN. My mind. My ability to stay present was tantamount in my recovery.
I folded pillows under my knees and I half roll to the side. Roma relocates to the foot of the bed to guard me. THE PAIN is in me now, so deep, so sharp, so fucking nasty-assed. GO THE FUCK AWAY. GO THE FUCK AWAY. I was feeling better today. This is not right or fair! GO THE FUCK AWAY!
I awake. It’s morning. Roma has journeyed back to bed with my Girlfriend, and I am alone in bed with the PAIN.
No, it wasn’t a dream. THE PAIN is really here and I am a cripple, a failure, a loser, a dumb assed guy, having an illicit affair with THE PAIN. And no one really cares….
DON’T GO THERE. STAY PRESENT, KEN. NO OLD STUFF.
It was again that little part of me, call it my soul, call it my true self, or simply the crazed motivational part of me, but whatever you call that part of me, that little voice was so on my team.
DON’T GO THERE. STAY PRESENT, KEN. NO OLD STUFF.
I forced myself to smile.
I lay there turning and rolling and turning and rolling hoping to vanquish THE PAIN but THE PAIN wasn’t vanquishing.
My girlfriend left for work. I needed to do something. The Pool. We had a pool in the building. I would go to THE POOL. I would plunge in, dive in, move my body, my leg, my hip and I would be cured as if it were Holy Water.
I slowly got up.
OH SHIT. THE PAIN.
Again, relinquished to crawling because of THE PAIN, I changed into my bathing suit, took my key, a small towel, (for I couldn’t find a bigger one) and I went and got THE CANE. I put Roma in her crate, stood up with THE CANE, walked to the front door, exited. There was an asian woman getting into the elevator. She wanted to hold it for me. I said “No NO, go ahead.”
DAMN! THE PAIN WAS IN THE HALLWAY WITH ME!!!
I quickly opened my apartment door again, and threw myself down on the floor. THE PAIN was slicing the entire side of my right leg with a huge BUTCHER’s KNIFE. OH FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.
I lay there writhing.
I can’t go to the pool. I will never make it.
You have to go. Yes you can do it.
No, it is too much for you.
NO, I AM GOING TO GO!
I crawled to the bedroom closet and removed THE CRUTCHES. Pulled myself up, and crutched it across the room to the front door.
The Walk to the Pool, part two.
The crutches were somehow easier. I made it easily. I crutched through the Men’s Locker room and out into the pool area. I set my stuff down, and hopped over to a shower nearby.
THE PAIN was coming again. I could feel it near. Please not now. I want to swim. I want to swim.
I hobble over to the edge of the pool.
The water is still. It looks clean, cool, beckoning - could it be my salvation? Everything I try to do I hope will be my salvation.
Maybe this water, this holy water, this anti-gravity playground will be where the hip nerve finally releases for good.
Oh please God, yes,!
I walk down the ladder into the water. Cool. Safe. I roll to my back and do a slow backstroke without kicking. Oh it feels good. So so good. Release me into your soft embrace Poseidon. Heal this strange curse that has been thrust upon me, so that I may go forth and fight for your cause from this day forth.
I hear my breathing. I am weightless. So soft on my body. I stop. I stand. I practice walking in the pool. Step by Step by Step.
Oh it feels almost normal!
Poseidon please HEAL ME! HEAL ME! HEAL ME!
The Pain cannot breathe underwater. She is drowning. Drowining. Go down the Fucking drain already!!!!!
I walk. I wiggle. I move. I hook my arms by the side of the pool and I hang - weightless.
MY HEAD VIBRATES SIDE TO SIDE - IT IS THE OLD STUFF AGAIN TRAPPED IN MY HIPS!
Just breathe. Don’t make it real. It is old. Just old. Like an old record that is skipping again and again and again ad infinitum.
BE PRESENT, KEN. BE PRESENT.
I shake again, but it doesn’t matter. I float, and fly and dance in Poseidon’s Paradise. I am coming back, back to aliveness, fully alive, strong, to who I really am.
I am getting cold. It has been 40 minutes. Time to leave. I walk my last lap and climb up the ladder. It is cold. I hobble to the shower. THE PAIN has been reincarnated. She is back, slowly climbing down my leg with her Butcher Knife.
I get into the shower. Hot. Hot water. Hold on to the Handicap rails - NOW I UNDERSTAND HANDICAP RAILS. I REALLY UNDERSTAND.
I get out hobble out to my crutches and crutch it in to the Locker Room.
Cold again THE PAIN is returning. There is a large mirror by the lockers AND I SEE IT!
IT IS THE DISABLED SWIMMER, OLD, SICK, INCAPACITATED and BENT!
AND IT IS ME!
I am the one I see all the time and feel bad for. I am the DISABLED SWIMMER, half a man, half human, a hunchback deformity fighting for his physicality.
I sit in PAIN. THE BUTCHER KNIFE. I reposition. THE PAIN lessens. T-PAIN is playing on the music speakers! T- FUCKING PAIN is rapping. OH man. I start to bounce my upper body to the music, No one is around. I start to move my rib cage to the rhythm and it feels SOOOOOOOOO GOOD. I am bouncing with T-PAIN and the BIG PAIN is evaporating. THE DISABLED SWIMMER has style, he is cool now and he and I are one and it feels SOOOOO Good to be moving.
I lean forward. I feel the pain. I move back. No pain.
Then it is not my back - is it just injured in my right hip - is that where the constriction begins, not my back, not at the top of the nerve. Is this my new SALVATION? DID T-PAIN HELP ME WITH THE PAIN? I will explore.
“Hallo, is anyone here?” It is a spanish cleaning woman wanting to clean the locker room.
“Yes, I am here. I will be out soon.”
I dry myself. Spin my bathing suit, put it on with my black T shirt. Time to crutch it. I pick myself up. And the pain is just a slight memory. Just a glimmer.
And I crutch it, a FUCKING PROUD AND POWERFUL DISABLED SWIMMER WHO IS ABSOLUTELY GOING TO CURE HIMSELF!! If I keep looking, exploring, sensing, and KEEP SHOWING UP WITH THE PAIN, I will find my way.
I crutch to my apartment. I get a bag of PEAS from the freezer to ICE my hip and I lie on the floor on my side, peas in place, with my protector ROMA lying by my head.
Keep going, Ken. Keep going.