catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 13 :: 2007.06.29 — 2007.07.13


March 16

Morning starts the same way: alarm clock, rolling over the copy of the hardcover I fell asleep with propped on my knees. I have nearly forgotten about It; my lavish dreams of chance encounters with old friends have blurred It from my memory.  But there It is again.  In the thirty seconds before I get out of bed, I begin a systematic note of It: my toes, ankles, shin bones, knees, inch by inch up my prostrate six-feet-long body. Hope creeps in as it always has a way of doing.  Maybe today won’t be another black X on my calendar of It.  The parts are assigned numbers and descriptive adjectives such as ache, dull, throbbing, tight, and sharp.  It is hiding out in my left temple.  My doctor has a vague smiley-face to crying-frowning-face scale that you bubble in to express your pain level.  I always wish that “shitty” were an option.  At twenty, I have never felt so much like running away.  It is as I walk down the stairs to the kitchen, It is over my morning cereal as my mother asks me ‘how I am doing.’ It has a way of turning casual questions into acusations. “I am fine,” I want to yell at the furniture, the milk carton, my parents, my lack of energy, my Brazilian doctor.  “I am fine, how are you?” On days I have to go to the doctor It seems to be everywhere.  Television helps and I flip through channels until landing on a rerun of a show I have already seen three times before.  The characters are healthy and strong and worried about the melodrama of running the White House press releases—no hint of It in a show like that.  I had to give up watching hospital dramas.  It was everywhere.

I dress in a strategic way so that the least amount of clothing will have to be taken off when I am examined; this usually means layers and shirts that button.  But the next thing I know, I am laying in a sterile doctor’s office in nothing but a smock and my underwear.  I feel nothing like the smart and peculiar individual I’m known to be. It is jeering at me in the bland wall paper, It winks every time the clock supplied by some drug company ticks over my head.  It has left me with only my underwear and collection of hairpins to call my own.  It blocks my fantastical ponderings.  It has taken me and left Latin diagnoses in my place. Completely at the mercy of the doctor who is shooting toxins into my scalp, her nurse, and a doctor observer, It attracts an audience.  The injections are not particularly painful, they are startling but they don’t hurt.  I lay like a dog on its belly, It sears in victory. I want to shake the doctor as if to say ‘make me feel human, It is not me.’  But instead I do the only thing I can do to regain my individuality; I begin to cry.

This is a rough excerpt from a project Emily is working on chronicling her struggles with chronic pain.  The author would like to note that while there are some similarities in this section to The Death of Ivan Ilych she was not aware of this overlap until recently and hopes you will forgive her.

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