(Originally posted on July, 4 2011)
Wanted to do a follow up about the surgery and stuff. Basically: It went fine. My finger looks horrendous at the moment, but I’m not in much pain as far as recovery goes. My wrist is hurting pretty badly today, which might be from my brace or could be a flare of arthritis brought on by the trauma of the surgery. Yay for sort-of-but-not-really fixing something and causing unintentional extra pain somewhere else…
I’ve been thinking, and my Relationship* with my arthritis goes in a cycle like this:
Stage 1: Everything’s Okay
Arthritis is manageable. Pain levels are down. Most days I don’t think about it (in the sense that I feel consciously crippled in some way).
Stage 2: Something Happens (i.e. The New Symptom)
Initial bravery kicks in. Self-control and Reasoning take the wheel in order to protect Family and Friends from emotional damage. This really makes no sense at all, but just go with it. Essentially: Keep calm and carry on. Oddly all the comforting words being said (“It’s okay, it’s not that bad, it can be managed”) are coming from my mouth.
Stage 3: The Thing That is Happening Continues to Happen/There are Consequences
Realization of mortality followed by exhaustion from being all Responsible in Stage 2. Feelings of despair and a sense that Youth has never existed. My body is crumbling and I have no control. A dark place. I try to keep most people from seeing the full extent of my thoughts here because… it’s not a fun place to be in, or to watch someone be in.
Stage 4: Period of Not Thinking which Leads to Acceptance
Flood self with activities that are easy but bring joy, i.e. a trip to Barnes and Noble, staying in my room alone all day, reading at a coffee shop. Accompany these activities by simply not thinking about Mortality and Health. Quiet the soul in the same way I prepare for an essay–just sit silently with the problem until it has ceased to be so unaccountably overwhelming.
Stage 5: Acceptance and Remoteness
The health problem is now something that can be faced calmly both inside and out (with careful barriers around That Which Will Trigger Stage 3). It has become fact, and controllable or not it is there. I can talk about it as if it is happening to someone else’s body, being both Logical and Somewhat But Not Overly Dramatic.
See Stage 1 and follow through.
I was wondering if Stage 5 is really a good place to end. Is that an emotionally healthy stage? And I decided I think it is. Because here’s the thing–the thing I think I forget in all other stages: My stupid crumbling body isn’t mine. It’s not me. It’s a broken shell not fit to last anyone very long. It’s like the quote on my header–I’m not a body, I am a soul.
My body can be broken with arthritis when I’m still young. Arthritis can spread through my joints until I can’t move without pain. But I’m the one who can allow my medical issues to infect my soul.
Are my joints breaking? Is my body a fragile thing, like anyone else’s? Sure.
Do I have arthritis in my soul?
I just need to get better at remembering that.
I want to be alive to the tips of my fingers**, whether or not my fingers work.
*The Capitalization in this entry is brought to you by Fatigue and Sleepiness.
**Stole that from an anonymous quote about Jane Austen.