Every so often, interspersed with the “how to” tips and advice on handling chronic pain and the posts where I shamelessly try to feed my kid via affiliate marketing (and for the love of God, please people, go buy something, will ya? She’s getting skinny), I’ll share an excerpt from my work-in-progress titled, shockingly enough, The Tramadol Diaries . Unless specifically stated otherwise, I advocate trying NOTHING in these posts as a means of dealing with your own chronic pain (especially without talking to your doctor first). Except the humor. That definitely works. Hey, it’s either laugh at yourself or cry, right? And crying makes me look ugly…
The Breakfast Incident
It started the weekend after I learned I was pregnant with The Princess. November, 1998. I remember sitting in a tony country club, having breakfast with my mother, brother, and husband, and shifting uncomfortably in my seat, painfully aware of the searing burning sensation running down the back of my left leg.
My brother, Tom, was being his usual sarcastically funny self. I honestly don’t remember what he said that set me off — something benign, because he’s never mean, and I usually take it and dish it right back with affection.
This time, however, something snapped. “Don’t do that,” I said. Something in my face or my tone conveyed the seriousness I felt, because the look on his face said volumes. Surprise, alarm, confusion, tinged with a slight hint of fear — he was obviously thinking, “Oh shit. What did I say?”
He recovered enough to say, “Come on kiddo. I’m only teasing.”
“Don’t,” I warned him. And then — God, I hate this about me — the tears started to well up. Every damn time I get angry, I start to cry. And I never cry pretty. Oh, no. My crying face is red, splotchy, puffy, and just really, really fugly.
Now he was truly alarmed. “Sherrie,” he began (and he almost never uses my name — the name he and our other brother Jim gave me at birth) … but I cut him off.
“I’m not kidding. I hurt, I don’t feel good, and I’m a little scared about it all, so just DON’T,” I sniveled.
To his credit, he backed off immediately. But the incident is forever burned in my memory because it was the first time I admitted to myself that something was terribly, terribly wrong with me.
I was a month pregnant, at the age of 33. It should have been the happiest time in my life. I had no morning sickness at all (never did), and this baby was very much wanted by both my husband and me — to say nothing at all of my mother, who had always craved a grandchild but had all but given up hope of any of her ungrateful weirdo kids ever giving her one.
And yet, I had just acknowledged that I was in pain — a pain that had come on strong and fast, with no warning or apparent cause, and had not let up once in days. The mystery of it frightened me greatly because of the pregnancy. All I could think was, “Is something wrong with Princess?” (I knew even then it was a girl. I swear I did.)
Those days would turn into months, and then a full year, before I ever found out what was causing this debilitating pain, which never once ceased its perpetual torment.