A Prison Within a Prison

The other day in one of my many times of collapsing on the bed in exhaustion, something obvious my brain hadn’t yet put words to hit me. (Or maybe it had before, and I just forgot….)

There is always something wrong.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I was under the impression when I was younger that, generally speaking, the only pain a woman regularly experiences is monthly pain and the occasional stomach ache. Right? Ha—the monthly pain is just something to add to the list—just heap it on top of the rest, and within so many days, unlike the rest, it will be over for a few weeks. And at least I’ll know exactly how to handle it.

Instead, daily, hourly—constantly—if there isn’t an invisible knife in my arm, there’s one in my temple.

If the side of my hand doesn’t feel like I left it on a cold window too long, the front of my scalp feels like it’s had some sandpaper rubbed on it for a bit.

If my teeth aren’t aching from another headache that’s making my head about to explode and leaving me in tears out of sheer helplessness, the right side of chest is unaccountably hurting.

If my insides aren’t at a stand-still, making my system feel very pleasant, the front of my stomach is aching in the most indescribable not inside but not outside kind of way.

If my wrists don’t feel like I have carpel tunnel, my arms are all tight and stiff.

If I’m not weak, foggy-brained, and semi-functioning from sensory overload, I’m so tired that it’s a task to lift my arms to put on chapstick.

I could go on and on. And if I’m lucky, a handful of those are all happening at the same time, each out of the blue and with little to no apparent cause.

Then at the end of the day, or rather when I finally retreat to the bedroom, I don’t collapse into bed and find relaxation. I collapse into bed and find I am so weak you’d think I’d run in circles all day, or that my muscles are twitching with no help from me, or that my neck and shoulders are so tight there is no position that can possibly relieve them, or that relaxation is after all impossible as I cannot for the life of me will my body to relax. Or that any number of the previously mentioned problems are yet occurring.

To say nothing of my brain hosting about six or so topics at once and remembering and then forgetting all the things I’d forgotten that day and all the things I need to do the next day and the next week, in addition to hosting any growing emotional wreckage. I do not go to bed and find relief in the silent darkness. I go to bed and watch my body paint the silent darkness with feeling after feeling of discomfort, pain, and/or despair over my body.

So fibromyalgia is not just my life sentence, where I really get no days without relief. It means that though I can distract myself for a few minutes or fall into fitful, unrestful sleep for a few hours, this sporadic disease holds one guarantee: There will always be at least one something wrong. Kinda like my own prison within a prison.

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