Wednesday, January 11

a lesson from my husband

I went to pick Ben up from the hospital and this time he emerged not as staff, but as patient. It had been his turn to lie unconscious on the table. I think this is a better state of affairs than lying fully conscious on the table with engulfing hospital phobia, but that is not the point, that is just my brain feeling a tad traumatised about my adventures in child bearing. His nurse spared no expense on bandaging his leg, and his limp matches the bandages in its pronounced manner, keeping one leg entirely straight at all times. He clonks along, slow and rigid, surprisingly adept at avoiding bending his maimed leg. He doesn't err; he finds creative ways to always keep it straight. Pain is the deterrent, and a powerful one.

Oddly though he now walks, I would never expect him to bend it so that he would look more normal. It would be cruelty to suggest he pains himself to improve his performance or suit my pace.

Yet how many times have I bent my metaphorical sore knee, to keep pace with the unmaimed? I see it as instinctual and right for Ben to limp to avoid pain, yet I feel pangs of guilt for avoiding pain, as though I am selfish for staying ok, for not living on panadeine forte like I used to in my student days. Guilty, for carefully adapting my gait so that I won't damage myself, so that I can enjoy being alive. When I am pain free due to careful limping, I sometimes wonder if I should have done it cushy, that I had a quiet day and have no headache? Or ought I have stepped out, bent the injured knee, suffered more and contributed more? But how I detest pain which I could have avoided.

Is it a basic human right to reduce pain where possible?

For Ben's limp, I answer of course. It would be masochistic not to limp.

For my body, I pause.

I wobble on my tightrope. It's impossible to limp so well that I can avoid discomfort. I try, because I need to be well for Aurelia. I need to be very functional. It would be foolish to lie in daily comas because I worked too hard or socialised or stayed up late. Conversely, it would be idiotic to stay at home, live in squalor, and never see a human to avoid stimulation.

I cannot avoid pain entirely and will always be evaluating the wisdom of each outlay of strength. I am utterly weary of the analysis, the endless fumbling for wise decisions. The consequence free decisions of the well are a peace they are not aware of, whilst the decisionathon of my own life is a breeding ground for anxiety and analytic mania.

But if I can let my body heal a little, and feel joy not despair at being alive, and not groan ceaselessly to my nearest and dearest, requiring all of their care, because of the pace I have adopted, that seems right to me.
Right to minimise pain, to limp, to not keep pace, to respect my wound.

How compassionate we are towards a tight bandage, a white flag of legitimacy.

But I have no bandage.

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