Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Transfer of Maladies

For much of my life, I have suffered from a variety of more or less serious physical complaints. At their worst, they were completely debilitating, but most of the time they faded into the background: a low ambient hum of discomfort. These ailments tended to worsen when I used them to define or describe myself ("I have a bad back"), or to avoid an unpleasant task ("I can't lift things") or to claim high status (See Johnstone, Impro, chapter 3) through having an interesting medical problem ("I have a 39° curve of my spine").

I'm not going to mention all of my chronic or recurrent conditions and symptoms, because such a list would make me sound like a whiner, and the wonderful fact of my life is that I have very few complaints these days; the treatable issues have been treated, the manageable issues are being managed, and many issues have simply disappeared. But the following issues are relevant to this post, so I will describe them:
  • Since around the age of 18, I had bad heartburn caused by hiatal hernia, a condition where the top of the stomach moves above the diaphragm that usually separates it from the esophagus. Two attempts to surgically repair the problem were unsuccessful. Currently managed by daily dose of Prilosec.
  • Scoliosis (the aforementioned 39° curve) contributed to a large amount of back pain throughout my life, sometimes causing spasms that would lay me out on the floor with tears shooting from my eyes. Happily, my back pain has mostly gone away over the last six years, a result I attribute to regular meditation and drastically lower stress levels.
  • I have profoundly flat feet, which caused pain in my feet and hips and makes it hard to find comfortable shoes. This has been managed successfully for many years with orthotic inserts in my shoes, without which I cannot comfortably walk more than 100 feet. Even with the inserts, I find it very uncomfortable to stand in one place for a long time, though long walks are no problem.
  • I suffered from insomnia for many years, starting around 1983, the year I saw "The Day After," a movie about the effects of a nuclear strike in the midwest. I used to obsessively turn on my clock radio throughout the night, listening for the Emergency Broadcast System signal that spelled our collective doom. Instead, I usually heard The Whispers's "Rock Steady". Nowadays I sleep like a baby.
You have probably guessed by now what I'm going on about. Over the years, Bridget has found my ailments tiring, irritating, or inconvenient. And now, my friends, she is suffering from each of the ailments above.

I am not celebrating my dearest love's pain. But every time she experiences a new symptom that is or was a part of my experience, she gains empathy. She looks at me with watery eyes and says something like "Oh honey... I never knew. Did it really feel like this?" I nod.

The tears spill from our eyes.

No comments:

Post a Comment