It wasn't a poem I intended to publish. Ever. It was sort of a private poem. Okay, if you simply must know, it was a prayer. I was composing a poem that I could memorize and say upon waking each morning. (Proof that you can take the lady out of the church, but you can't take the church out of the lady.) I intended it to be full of gratitude in hopes of helping me to start each morning on a positive note.
And all was going exceedingly well.
Until I attempted to use the word pain.
In fact the exact line was: Help me to trust that your plan is mighty;
embracing my pain, redemption's reward
When weakness I feel, Lord, let me humbly join to
your lonely passion in one accord.
I know. . .quite lovely isn't it?
All except the use of that one simple word! I didn't want to use the word pain. I erased it. I put it back. I replaced it with suffering. I put it back. (Suffering, after all, has too many syllables for that line.) I hemmed. I hawed. I felt guilty. I scratched it out. I put in the word life instead.
What in heaven's name had come over me?
I'll tell you what. I don't want to be seen as a complainer. . . a whiner. . .a self-centered-woe-is-me kind of person. Even in my private prayers to God. Because so many people are suffering with life-threatening illnesses while my disease is just life-changing instead.
And a big part of the change is the "P" word.
Oh, I don't want to use the word, but I live it.
I live in pain and I don't talk about it.
Yes, I live in pain from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I wake up twenty-four yours later. (Because, although I sleep, I experience pain throughout the night. When I roll over. . . when I hobble to the bathroom. . .and when the neuropathy in my feet decides to rear it's painful, ugly head in each and every knuckle of my toes at 4:00 a.m.) Yes, pain is a nocturnal animal. In fact, it never sleeps.
So what's a another word? A softer word? A more tolerable word?
Now discomfort is a whole different animal. Discomfort is what I feel in my lungs upon waking each morning when I have the sensation they've had the life squeezed out of them. Discomfort is what I feel in those god-forsaken toes during daylight hours because the inflammation in the nerves has caused the piggy who ate roast beef to pull apart from the piggy who stayed home - causing each of those last three toes to overlap and run away from home, not towards it. In fact, the discomfort is such that - despite the specially ordered shoes I wear - it causes all of my piggies to detest going to the market and opting to stay home instead. (Do you get the picture? It's some sort of neuritis.)
And discomfort is what I feel from the hallmark symptoms of Sjogren's - dry eyes and dry mouth (Xerophthalmia and Xerostomia respectively.)
Pesky? Troublesome? Difficult?
Yes, all of the above. But discomfort is almost nuisance-like . . .something I can deal with. I know these symptoms will be with me for the rest of my life but they can be temporarily relieved through any number of things in my arsenal: steam. . .water . . .eyedrops . . .lozenges . . .toe alignment socks or flip-flops.
But the "P" word? My "P" goes right to the bone and is present with virtually every move I make. Heels. . .ankles. . .knees. . . .fingers. . . lower back. . . and even creeping into my wrists and hips now.
It's pain. Pure and simple.
And despite the myriad of pills and numerous prescriptions I take around the clock, my pain has gotten worse since the onset of this disease a year ago, not better.
So pain, now, is a fact of my life. I acknowledge it. And, as so many others have said before me, I have forgotten what it's like to feel "normal" (a.k.a. pain-free.)
There. I said it. Now the word can go back in my prayer.
After all, I'm pretty sure God knew it was there all along. . .