Inexplicable pain without causation. No fall. No injury or accident. And as of yet, no definitive diagnosis. A torn Rotator Cuff? A pinched nerve? A strain? A sprain? Family doctor, orthopedic specialist, radiology, pharmacy. physical therapy. Repeat. The days are blurring into doses of time. A few hours of sleep here, there. A few pills. The only constant: the couch, my ass.
Turn on the TV…Turn off the TV. Perhaps some reading. It seems good a time as any to pursue that book-a-week goal. Pages turn. Dilated pupils slide left, right and back again. I’m 90% through The Beauty Myth when it dawns on me that this is not reading. This is looking at words. My boyfriend brings me a secondhand copy of Alfred Hitchcock’s Happiness is a Warm Corpse, a collection of short stories that are slightly easier to digest with doses of Hydrocodone.
My weary eyes grow tired of text but my mind is not quite sedated enough for another bout of slumber. I cock my head to the side, struggling to slide the earbuds in position. The angle of my neck sends a shock down my spine and I gasp aloud. My mother looks over me from the other side of the couch.
…Just can’t get comfortable…I’m okay, Mom.
I’m not exactly sure what follows, my midday medicine has kicked in. Convinced my head is detaching at the neck, dangling from the ceiling, I defy rational thought. Bobbing back and forth, appendages bend and twist. My brain, somehow simultaneously bloated and weightless. What is that noise?
The pain ebbing from shoulder to fingertips suddenly falls mute to the thud-thud thudding within my chest. I’ve always found the noise of human inner workings rather disturbing. I palm the i-pod, blindly searching for something to drown out my own sounds. My eyelids grow heavy as my fingers click away the song selections. The interim of restless sleep suddenly is interwoven with the soothing sounds of acoustic guitar, electronic effects bordering otherworldly and a voice warmly blanketing my senses. The pain, secondary to the sound of Kaki King.
Hours later I am awake, without recollection of actually having slept. Rested, but not relaxed, my body alternates between sensations of a tugging to the joints and a feeling likened to the innards of a beanbag chair. Soon, I am convinced, soon I will be a limbless stump, sandwiched between a stack of books and a pile of TV dinner packages. I glance at my notebook, the paisley print dancing along the cover beckons my attention to the pages within. Doctor’s reports. Insurance pre-certification claims, MRIs. Somehow, this needs to be documented. Jotted down without all of the medical jargon. All of my strength is now focused on lifting my head, grasping outstretched fingers around the edges of my notebook. The painstaking efforts of putting pen to paper and subsequently, putting thoughts to pen. The pressure building between my fingers is unbearable, not entirely unlike the pressure of deadline, I’d imagine. I shelve the notion of cursive writing, and convince my sister to plug in my PC and plop it on my lap. Typing up a draft is not as futile an effort, literally speaking.
My joints crackle and crunch above the keyboard. My head, muffling a slight wah-wah-wah sound, collapses under its own weight. I close the lid to the laptop, remembering its time for medicine and not much else.
It has been three days down the rabbit hole, and I’ve been carelessly falling further, further down the depths. My legs stretch for want of escape from the recliner. My left arm folds to support my aching neck. My right dangles lifelessly, limp–helpless as luncheon meat strung from the ceiling of a delicatessen.
Three days down the rabbit hole and I am the Alice in-fucking-wonderland of prescription painkillers. Limbs stretching and contracting to unfeasible measures, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the Vicodin reads “Eat me.”
At the end of her journey, when she comes closest to danger, Alice wakes to find the entire ordeal but a dream.
Not sure when I’ll be afforded that luxury.