If pain has one redeeming quality, it’s how good it feels when it stops. Every morning for the past six weeks, I’ve been awakened by the pain of occipital neuralgia. It was present when I awoke and throughout the entire day. As nighttime rolled around, my body, exhausted by the day’s suffering, fell into a fitful sleep for roughly five hours — only to awaken to endure another day.
For the past two days, things have been different. I’ve awakened and lain there, wondering when the pain would begin. But it didn’t.
I wasn’t sure how to behave, what to do with myself and all my free time. I was no longer spending hours heating rice-filled socks for my neck in the microwave or exchanging warmed-up ice packs for colder ones in my freezer. I could skip the breathing exercises that helped me get through the day. I could move from place to place without Voltaren gel or lidocaine cream in my pocket. I could sit in a chair that my heating pad couldn’t reach.
I was pain free!
Paperwork on my desk beckoned to me, as did the laundry in the garage. Both stacks had grown frighteningly large while I’d been hurting too badly to care. With the holidays quickly approaching, decisions needed to be made — and soon.
I decided to address those issues after a short rest. I was asleep before I’d closed my eyes and slept for four hours. When I awoke, I thought about food. The knot in my stomach from being tensed against the pain or waiting for it to strike again had finally disappeared. For the first time in weeks, I was hungry.
Stomach full, I began to yawn. Maybe I’d rest for a few minutes before approaching my desk or the washing machine. Those few minutes became a few hours. I awoke just in time for dinner and the evening news. Although I had continued to watch it nightly during my weekslong ordeal, no information penetrated my pain-preoccupied mind. I’d missed many national and world events. Like a sponge, I took in whatever I could. At that point, I was too sleepy to address my chores. They could wait until tomorrow.
How ironic! Here I was, finally feeling well enough to do the things I’d needed to do for weeks, but was unable to do. And my only option was to sleep. I guess recovery will take some time.
I’ve decided to give myself a break. Instead of struggling to make up for lost time and unfinished activities, I’m just going to relax. After all I’ve been through, I deserve it.
The paperwork and the laundry will still be there in a couple of days. In the meantime, I will enjoy not being in pain. If you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my next nap.
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