For 80 hours straight, I have had a pounding headache. While I've had killer headaches before, migraines that have made me throw up included, I've never had such a relentless one. Today the pain has lessened, and I am drinking a cup of green tea in hopes of dulling it further (thanks Kir), but it lingers. So, fueled by ache, I've been thinking about pain: It's hard not to allow pain to change you. I have noticed this week that my face looks different -- more washed out, fewer smiles, my eyes seem weighed down; I have forgotten how to get dressed in any decent sort of way; it's taken me two hours to do a small shop at the grocery store; I've moved slowly, called no one and spent much of my time lying on the floor trying to convince Silas that we're having fun; I go to sleep at 8.
In some ways, though I've been in tears in the morning unsure of how I could possibly crawl through the day with a child in my charge, I have a kind of pain that people covet -- temporary. (An assumption, but the swollen glands seem evidence enough). Even so, I have felt deflated, defeated, and exhausted.
How do people bear their pain? Cindy, whose pain diagnosis is not only permanent but scheduled to increase exponentially. Christina, whose grief is so severe that it physical hurts as she watches her child degenerating before her eyes.
My skin is so thin -- what temperatures I can bear (the Santa Ana winds blew through with a vengeance last week and I, living without air conditioning, felt miserable), what amount of pain I can bear and still walk under, what grade of emotional discomfort or misunderstanding I can sit with -- that I wish (just a teeny bit) that I were living with Eli in Sierra Leone weathering the rainy season that gushes the roads to mud, the still humid heat that follows, the bucket showers and minnow-groundhog stew.
What are we made of when everything is stripped down?
(would I be scared to know the answer?)