So, over the past month and a half I've been dealing with crippling back pain that I couldn't explain. I have fibromyalgia, so that was on the top of the short list of suspects, but it turned out to be a combination of fibro, pleurisy, and a singing technique I was overusing. In short, a perfect storm of bad juju that was comparable to off-and-on labor pains, only it was in my upper back. Over six weeks. Wasn't fun.
Pain's an old friend, but one that I like to keep in the closet when company's over. I learned two things very quickly after being diagnosed. The first rule of fibro is not to talk about fibro. It's muscle pain that doesn't result from compromised spinal structure, and therefore doesn't behave the same way as more typical back pain. It's not limited to the back, but that's where it's always been the worst for me. If I talk about it to the average Joe, Joe/Josephine automatically assumes I'm a lazy ass wipe that doesn't take care of herself. Ha. Ha, ha, ha. After several disastrous conversations, I no longer talk about it to anyone I don't trust implicitly.
The second thing I've learned is that I've developed an arsenal to deal with the pain. Isolation's at the top of the list, mostly because my husband is one of the only ones who truly understands. Distraction's the next weapon. I throw myself into work. Between the gut-wrenching pain and the effort of trying to keep my students focused and productive, I usually have the brain power of an amoeba at the end of the day, which brings me to my last coping mechanism: stories. Not my own. Someone else's.
Checking my Netflix history is a good indication of how I'm feeling. The emotional fallout of dealing with pain draws me toward romantic dramas with awesome heroes. As strains of a Bonnie Tyler song floats through my gray matter, no matter how tempting it is to fantasize about someone who could make all the pain and depression, it's not how the real world works. No one, not my husband, not anyone else, is going to swoop in and fix all of my problems. That's probably why I prefer fiction.
For six weeks it's been easy to slough off my writing because of the way I've felt. I'm still devouring episodes of Bones, Buffy, and enough British period romances to choke a horse. I tell myself that time has not been wasted, that everything I've been watching and reading has helped me deepen my story.
I'm afraid to get back on my horse, and I'm terrified that Ellie and Stinky will never ride again. Why not? Joss Whedon does the whole story-telling thing better.
If we want to get real, it's time to put on the big girl panties. And perhaps a pair of cowboy boots.