You’re hurting me.

Some days I’m so angry, and they stick me with another needle, and another, and another, and I just grit my teeth and take it.

“Anything,” I tell myself, “anything to get well.”

Some days I just stay in my room, I forget to eat and I don’t shower, and I cry a lot.

I’ve had so many needles placed directly into my nerves, or up through my vagina and into my abdominal wall, that I now posses the horrifying knowledge of what those things are “supposed” to feel like.  I understand the difference between when the epidural goes in properly and when the needle strikes my spine.  I can tell a botched IV an hour before my arm swells and the nurses take me seriously.  I can feel when a physical therapist has gentle hands, and I can sense if you don’t care if you’re hurting me.  And some of you don’t.

A few weeks ago I went to to have some of my spinal nerves destroyed with radiofrequency generated heat.  I don’t want to hope because hope has hurt so much, but I come in anyway, grasping at straws.  They go to put the line in, and even though I know I have “good” veins – clear to see, close to the top of my skin – they try to place it in my hand and fail.  I grimace as they fish around; I’ve felt worse.  They pull the needle out and try again, only this time, they hit something.  I jump and cry out, two things I never, ever do, and I try to tell them.

“It’s wrong, something’s wrong!” I yell, and they keep sticking me.

“Take it out!  It’s wrong, I know it’s wrong, take it out of me!”  I’m practically screaming.

“Sometimes it just hurts more in your hands.”

Sure it does.  They don’t know me, and they don’t know if I have a low pain tolerance, or any idea what this is supposed to be like, but I do.  “It’s wrong.” I glare.  “Take it out of me.”

They do, and when I feel my heart rate start dropping back to something close to normal I ask for a glass of water.

“We’re going to have an IV in you.  We’re just about to hydrate you.”  The doctor says.

I can feel the heat behind my eyes as I look at him.  “That’s lovely, but I’m asking because I’m nauseous, so it’s get me a cup or have me vomit on your sterile table, your choice.”

A minute later I sip the water, tell them to try again, and bite down hard on my tongue.

They get it this time.

They wheel me over to the procedure room, where I’m drifting in and out, but not out enough that I can’t feel them yank my pants off.  I should be embarrassed, but everyone in Los Angeles has seen me naked and stuck me with a needle at this point.  There is nothing left to be ashamed of.  There is no pride left to lose.

Anesthesia does odd things to you.  I dream the same dream over and over, and in it, I am alone in a spotlight in a dark room, screaming out again and again,

“You’re hurting me!  You’re hurting me!”

But no one hears me.  Or if they do, they don’t believe.


Battle Scars

There’s battle scars on all my guitars but I still come out here and play – Ozma

At this point, I’ve given up on the idea that any one of these surgeries will cure me.  When people smile and say lovely things like, “It’s so great, after this surgery you’ll be better!”  I smile and agree politely, sighing inside, anticipating the pity and disappointment that will follow when it doesn’t work.  After ten doctors and two years of promises, you grow weary, and wary, of hope.  You just can’t afford it anymore.

My new pain management team tells me to keep my chin up.

“I know it’s been two years now, and you’ve probably been sliced and diced twelve ways to the wind, but stick with it. Pelvic pain is notoriously difficult to diagnose.  Keep with it.”

They are encouraging, but I am exhausted.  I have been sliced, diced, filleted, split open, parts removed, cauterised, injected, hospitalized, had my hip capsule pierced by a needle and my insides pumped full of botox.  I am so, so tired.

My body, for the last two years, has been completely out my control.  And while I have somewhat adapted, learning to relinquish my will in each defeat and go with the flow, I hurt; feeling as if I’ve lost myself while pain dictates where I go, how I dress, who I see.  At some point, I stopped shopping for clothing.  I realized I couldn’t control the weight I kept gaining and losing on all the medications, I couldn’t wear heels, I never felt sexy anymore.  Dressing became a hateful burden.  I despise my body for doing this to me.  How can you lovingly adorn something you can’t stand to look at?

My identity continued to shrink as I moved out of my apartment.  I lived with caretakers here, friends or a boyfriend there.  Another surgery I didn’t plan on.  Another doctor in another town.  Another month without a home to call my own.  At some point I started living out of just a duffel bag.  Shuffling from place to place, grateful for a place to lay my head but reduced to something a little less than human.  Feeling like everyone in proximity is functioning on a higher level, and me, a prisoner to my pain, washing the three T-shirts I live in, sleeping in a borrowed bed.

My body, that monstrous betrayer, that son of a bitch, has been put through the wringer for it’s sins.  As such, it bears the marks of the excruciating journey.  A scar on the inside of my arm where they botched the IV.  Three large round holes in my right hip from the arthroscopy, three rips down my stomach from laproscopic surgery, a gash across my pelvis when they realized I was too damaged for the lap.  They cut me open, peeled my congealed organs off each other, cut out six tumors, and sewed me up.

I feel ugly.  I put on a bikini and the red and purple scars scream the story of my brokenness inside.  I dye my hair so I can pretend to be someone else.  I hide.  I don’t speak up for myself.  I hope, for the first time in  my life, to be invisible.  All these scars, these ugly scars.  I take off my clothes and stand in the mirror, wondering who in the world would ever want to look at this ugly, ruined body.  Between the curve of my waist and the tops of my legs, I have been neatly ripped apart and pulled together so many times that I look and feel like a raggedy doll, repaired and restitched over and over and over again.

I remember my last surgery: I wake up with a start and call out for someone to notice me.  The nurses come and adjust the tubes and hoses, the stuffed animal placed in my arm.  They give me morphine and tell me I’ve been talking gibberish.  I hadn’t washed my hair, so frizzy, haphazard curls swirl awkwardly around my face.  I am ghostly pale and blotchy with acne from the hormones, my lips chapped and dry, a tube up my nose and a catheter between my legs.  I am bound up in bloody bandages.

He is the first to come see me, and when he does, he gently pushes the frizz out of my face, and kisses my forehead. Careful of the tube in my nose, he touches my cheek as he looks at me.  The first, and only words he says:

“Hello, Beautiful.”

And I feel in my bones there is strength to keep going. That there is a chance left in me to love.

On being thin

I’m at the gym, the song “Fergalicious” in my ears, my mantra repeating in my head

“skinny bitch, skinny bitch, skinny bitch”

The cycles on the elliptical whirring, chirping towards 100 rotations per minute

“skinny bitch, skinny bitch, skinny bitch”

Fergie moaning and humping in the background.
That’s right everyone.  My body stay vicious.  I be up in the gym, just workin on my fitness.  And all these sweaty people are my witness.

I don’t know what it is about the gym that makes men want to leer.  I mean…honestly.  I don’t get it.  The idea of bouncing sweaty chicks is nice in theory, but that’s in a music video, sprayed down with water drops and bronzed to perfection, gyrating on the nearest object… person… animal…. Oh pop music…

In reality, it’s me with a red face and rather funky looking sweats, muttering “be the skinny bitch” under my breath while the men on the treadmills behind me try to get a good angle on my ass.  Great.  All I want is the body I had in high school.  Or better yet, when I was in England.  After I came down with mono.  That was the quickest weight loss plan of my life.

I’ve never gained weight before, or been really weight conscious before in my entire life.  I’ve never had a flat tummy or a perfect butt but I’ve always been on the slender side and always very thankful for that luck.

Enter desk job.  Enter desk job from hell.  You’re so sedentary that you sneak out of the office once a day for what you and the receptionist have come to call “A moment with Abbie outside”   This is the time of day where she laughs at your ass while you desperately soak up 5 seconds of sunlight.  You’re so bored that you’ve started getting food to eat just to get up out of your chair and walk to the kitchen.  This is trouble.  You sit on your butt for 8 hours at work, followed by ½ an hour sitting in the car, and 3 to 4 hours sitting at school…. Your ass has become the center of your universe.  No wonder it’s bigger.  It needs a gravitational pull.  Maybe if you’re lucky, you can get some Krispy Kreme’s and an In & Out burger to revolve around it.

This is me, on a low carb diet, wondering how I’ve gained fifteen pounds and hoping that enough Justin Timberlake can help me work it off (we’ve switched tracks and are machine humping to “Sexyback” at this point).  It is swimsuit season.  And thankfully, although I still have 9 units, they’re online.  This means I can actually be a gym rat every day after work.  Unfortunately it means I have to go during the “breeding hour” where the meat heads just stand in front of your treadmill.  Staring.  But we cherish what we have.  And I cherish “A moment with Abbie outside” and the fact that I’ve started doing more reps on the weight machines already.

I’ve decided that it’s time to be buff.   I’ll get back to you when I can beat you all up.

*mantra humming*  “Skinny bitch, skinny bitch, skinny bitch”

********* PS.   Any time I didn’t feel motivated to to do my PT, I would just watch this video.  I recommend acting it out wearing sweatbands in your living room.  I’m not saying my boyfriend and I did anything like that, but I’m not saying we didn’t.