It’s approaching dawn, but it’s still the black dark of night outside. I am sitting here in my recliner, listening to the rain hit the windows. I hear the thunder rumbling. We have not had rain for weeks here in central Illinois and it is such a welcome sound. Almost foreign, since it’s been such a long time ago. I love the sound of it, the smell of it.
Thunderstorms have so much energy, so much power and intensity. They remind me of the storm inside of me.
I have not slept. My pain is severe, even after several days of forced rest. I had to go pick up a couple books from the library the other day, and even though I knew it was risky, I told myself I would only be on my feet for 10 minutes, max. That was 10 minutes too long.
I have severe, chronic tendinitis and plantar fasciitis in my feet. I have nerve damage and the inflammation in both feet is intense. I’ve had this problem in varying degrees for 10 years. I’ve had problems with my feet for years even before that. I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis too, but right now, those pale in comparison with the incredible fire-like, burning, ripping pain of this living hell.
Sometimes in the night, when I can’t sleep and the pain is so enormous, the fear bubbles up from deep down, underneath, where I keep it buried most of the time. Most of the time it stays below the surface, quiet but always present. On nights like this when the pain is enormous and I can’t sleep, all alone with my thoughts, the fear creeps up into my consciousness and reminds me that I am so incredibly vulnerable, when I can’t walk even a few steps without such trepidation.
The pain, and the fear of the pain hovers over me like a low, dark cloud when I sit on the edge of my bed, and I ponder how far, how many steps it is, from my room to the other end of the house….how much it will cost me to get there from here. How afraid I am to walk even a few steps. The fear paralyzes me.
The lightning and the thunder I hear outside matches the turmoil in my body. Flashes of light, flashes of pain. Rumbles of thunder, rumbles of fear. Will this be the end of me? Will the pain finally, after all these years, consume me alive? What will become of me? Is this it – will I lose the use of my feet finally, once and for all? Is the damage from the inflammation too great? Will I one day be unable to walk at all?
The storm builds into a crescendo of blinding lightning flashes and loud crashes of thunder as I sit here quietly, waiting. The low lights in the house flicker as the electricity threatens to go out. The winds pick up and the rain throws itself against the window panes with ferocity and fury. I feel the storm raging in my mind and in my body. The terror of severe pain…. a “flare up” sounds like such a tame and benign phrase for what I am experiencing tonight. My mind grows so tired but the pain won’t let me rest.
Eventually, I will pass the point of exhaustion and sleep will find me….once my mind can’t compete with the pain any longer. I will drift off just as the storm moves off into the distance, to allow me a few hours of respite from the angry, rumbling, flashing storm that rages in my chronic body.
When I wake from my sleep, in the light of the day… the protective, survival-mode thinking will be back in place….the “self-preservation” thinking that keeps me from full blown panic during this “down time”….it’s the way my mind keeps the fear and terror buried, underneath the surface so that I can maintain some semblance of stability and assurance that “of course I will get through this, it will just take time”….. the way I assure myself that I will be okay. The way I talk myself into believing what I have to believe in order to preserve my peace of mind.
The daylight will come, the storm of the previous night will have moved on, and my mind will once again transform my night terrors into hope for better days ahead.