Pain and/or Suffering

[ma-leyz, -muh-; French malez] 


  1. A condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.
  2. A vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.


Rather than vague I’d use the term indistinct. It isn’t so much that the feeling is subtle or elusive as it is all encompassing and impossible to attribute to one cause only. It is clear beyond doubt that there are ongoing and tangible causes for this pall set over the landscape, but it lately the hope it might be temporary fails to dispel the gloom in any durable way.

Most of all I am weary of being unwell. I feel robbed of my vigor and hobbled by this unknown affliction. Every task seems harder and I am amazed at all I was once able to do so readily without a bare second thought.

Seeking answers has become a persistent occupation, though one which has yielded little meaningful result. Down several organs with no substantial relief, I am back into the fray; set to be prodded, poked, questioned, and laid quite bare. Mayhap I had more energy, I could rise to indignance. As it is, all I have is faint and ragged hope.

Once upon a time, I made what would prove to be an

extremely bad decision 

about my reproductive health. The consequences of this 

extremely bad decision 

are plaguing me still. Suffice it to say I would recommend condoms made out of 80 grit sandpaper over an IUD, were anyone to ask my opinion on the matter.

At any rate. Antibiotic intervention has once again become necessary. This sucks for a whole host of reasons. Among them:

  • No Drinking – Yeah, that’s right. I’m off the fuckin’ wagon. Wanna make something of it?
  • No Sex – Yeah, that’s right. I’m off the fuckin’ wagon. Wanna make something of it?
  • Gastrointestinal Chaos – Which I had just managed to get under control with concerted effort, probiotics, and better food choices.
  • Motherfucking Thrush – which is a thing usually only the respiratorily desperate and immuno-compromised (also babies) are prone to get. 

But, it turns out

I am a goddamned delicate flower

(pause for laughter)

No, really. I am. Practically the only reason any of this is happening is because I am a delicate flower. If there is a side effect, to any medication, procedure, or medical device I will get them all. And then usually some they didn’t really know about before.

In the case of the IUD it turns out the vast majority of people don’t have these hideous, recurring, life-altering side effects. In fact, only about .16% of users (as in, 1.6 per 1000) do. And of those, basically NONE of them end up in the hospital for 4 days on IV antibiotics. Like I did.

Nor is this, by any means, an isolated phenomenon. Last week I was speaking to my friend, the PharmD, about why I cannot take the only reliable asthma medication I have ever been able to find  because it makes me lose my voice.

(pause for collection plate to circulate to obtain supply of medication for tactical application)

When I mentioned that my M.D. had been baffled by this symptom, my friend said excitedly,

“No! It’s a side effect of that medication. It’s just super rare! You’re totally cool!”

I can’t say I was able to muster his enthusiasm on the subject.

So! I’m on antibiotics. They make me feel like shit, and smell weird, and give me thrush. In addition to this, I also seem to have developed a stye in my eye*! Puffy, tender, swollen, red; all hallmarks of hotness, for sure. Finally, after passing out on the nude beach Sunday, I have a fairly righteous sunburn on my ass. This is healing, and is thus now itchy. As(s) a result, I’ve been walking around all day scratching my butt. 

You know you want me right now. Don’t even act like you don’t.


*And OF FUCKING COURSE it is my good eye, so applying the necessary treatment makes me functionally blind for a while.

But it wasn’t in the course of having fun.

Back stairs + rain + super klutz = owie*


I’m out of commission for the rest of the day. Also feeling as though the universe is chiding me for my new (old) car purchase:

First the nasty winter weather right after I gave up my all wheel drive. Now the shoulder injury after the happy surrender of the automatic transmission.

Perhaps just a nudge to be more reverent for the good service Colgate gave all along, despite his quirks.

I have plenty of time to meditate on the nature of gratitude while I lie here.

*my phone (which I am using to compose this post since, for now, I cannot type) auto corrected the word owie to liquor. Maybe it has something, there.

Unmistakable. And the rounded corner where I have been expecting to see you for weeks now; there you were…

Relentless and merciless and utterly pointless, to be ingrained with the blueprint of your gait, the pattern of your gestures, the architecture of your body.

Just so, to no end at all.

Here’s my theory: Santa got to my name on his list, acknowledging that a lump of coal was somehow insufficient to his purpose, he called a cadre of his trustiest, burliest elves (you know, the ones who lift the toy-laden bags into the sleigh on Christmas eve) to sneak into my bedroom and beat me with candy canes; head to toe, but with a special focus on my hindquarters.

Or, it might have been the three times I ran and five bouts of heavy lifting I’ve done at the gym in as many days.

Anyone’s guess, really. 



But, I fear there is no such thing. At least not in any instance where meaning is present. To tell the truth with as much grace and kindness as can be mustered may still be insufficient.

And I miss you… I miss you every single day

I went out yesterday to play what will almost certainly be my last round of golf before Spring. it was a beautiful day, and I was thrilled to be going out.

My enthusiasm did not, it turns out, cure me of my notorious klutziness. I got out of the car, collected my borrowed set of clubs, and started for the pro shop. in addition to the golf bag, I had my hands full; wallet, keys, sunglasses, and my inhaler which I managed to drop.

with the bag slung over my shoulder I knew that bending down was a suckers bet. I would lean forward, and all the clubs would tumble out onto the pavement. So, thinking I was very clever, I decided to squat down to retrieve it. Clearly, my conviction that physics are made up has lead me to believe they don’t apply to me: this turns out to be false. As I attempted to stand back up, the weight of the golf bag slung over my shoulder caused me to overbalance and fall. On my ass. On the pavement. And on top of some poor fellow who have committed no offense other than to be loading his clubs into the back of his car at just the wrong time and place.

He was very surprised, and gracious about me landing on him. At the time it felt like all I had bruised was my pride, but predictably this morning, my butt hurts. Ass usual.


I shot a fairly terrible round. But it was still a good day. Here’s to more practice, and less falling down in the future.


When I wander away from it for a while, I forget how much I love the gym. I tend to be rather various and inconsistent about fitness unless I have a routine, a plan, and a place to go. No matter my access to workout DVD’s, fitness channels, or muscle magazines, I can never seem to get into a rhythm that works for me without the gym. I seem to need the structure of a place to go, the inspiration of an expanse of machines, racks of weights, walls of mirrors. 

I was in a good routine, just starting to plateau, and considering what it would take to increase my intensity when I fell down and dislocated my tail-bone in a “I can’t tell if I was having fun unless I got hurt” episode. After that it was very difficult to get back in the swing, since I took so long to heal. Once I was recovered, I had moved to Eugene where there were, to my shock, no 24 hour fitness locations. This was most distressing, since I had a lifetime membership there. Trying to find a new gym was sort of a pain, and I couldn’t commit until it had been so long I barely remembered what it was like to lift on anything approaching a regular basis.

And this arm is not what it used to be

But with my Christmas bonus, and a bargain membership offered through the Gold’s gym here, I was excited to get back at the rack.

I have a tendency to overdo things after a long absence, so I tried to take it super easy the first day back. Minimal weight, short sets, only 2 of each. I stretched for at least as long as I had lifted, and apart from some chicken wing tightness, I felt pretty good. Second day back, I tried to maintain my plan, but pushed a little harder on the lower body than I had on upper body, just by virtue of the greater capacities of the muscle groups in question. I did some of the harder lifts in my repertoire with minimal weight, but despite my caution, I could still feel the strain even before my second set was over.

Today, I attempted a recovery workout. I tend to alternate days lifting focusing on specific areas: arms & abs one day, legs & ass the next. For a recovery day I do an all over workout focusing on movement, stretching, and simply creating bloodflow to the areas I think might need it. I usually come away from this feeling great and much less stiff and sore than I am if I just rest completely. When I left the gym today I felt pretty good, but by the time I was done with my chores…. mercy.

Now, I know they say “No pain, no gain” but today I feel like I was beat with sticks. It’s pretty clear I haven’t done myself any great injury, which is certainly an improvement over other starts, but every time I stand up, sit down, twist, bend, move or breathe, it hurts. I’m trying to take this as a sign that I activated all the muscles I wanted to and I’m well on my way back to super-buff status, but right now all I know is that I’d give my bad eye for some Ibuprofen, Aspercreme, a hot tub, and a massage. And the thing is, I don’t even need to, I have access to each and all of these things, it just hurts too much to move enough to get them.

Having only one eye that functions as it should has a whole host of consequences. My sense of smell is quite a bit keener than average, my verbal capacities are very well-developed, and my intuitive reasoning manages to surprise even me sometimes. It also means I have no depth perception, my balance is seriously compromised, and my spatial reasoning suffers considerably.  Ah, the give and oh, the take.

Anyone who has spent any time around me knows that I am accident prone, I bruise easily, and I fall down. A lot. Not just a lot for an adult, a lot for a drunken toddler. I trip, I misstep, my feet disappear from beneath me and I topple. Usually this happens when I am in the midst of doing something fun. This is not meant to read as a euphemism for “when I am drinking” though it certainly has gone that way, it is simply to point out that somehow, when I am having the most fun, it is also the most likely moment for me to hurt myself. This has become so true that I now have a handy and glib little phrase to trot out when it happens: If I didn’t get hurt, how would I know if I had fun?

One Thanksgiving weekend, some years ago, I was having SO MUCH FUN! A group of the usual suspects had gone to Bend for the annual Deep Fried Turkey and Drinking Derby and we’d gotten a truly lovely house for the lot of us. This was open beam construction, grand kitchen, pool table having lovely. Double doors in the main entry and an apartment over the garage for those who needed extra privacy. Also in the garage was a ping pong table. The inevitable game of Beer Pong ensued, and though I did not play (see above re: lack of depth perception, spatial reasoning) I was enjoying the spectacle considerably. At this point, tipsy and giddy, I realized there was something in the house I wanted at that very moment. At present, I cannot recall what that was, but why I can’t may become clear quite soon. As I raced back toward the house, as fast as my bare feet would carry me, I rounded a corner and sped toward the open of the two double doors. Much to the chagrin of my face, which struck it first at full tilt,  it turned out not to be an open door so much as a plate glass window. My friend Jason, who witnessed this impact from the inside of the door, said as I hit the window and then slid slowly toward the floor it was like watching a cartoon in real life and that he was deeply conflicted between genuine concern and hysterical laughter. The former overwhelmed the latter, and he came outside and picked me up with considerable tenderness and very minimal audible laughter. This is evidence that despite all other facts about him, he is probably a saint.

I managed to give myself a concussion, and a nasty scar on the bridge of my nose where my glasses slammed into my face with all my weight and speed behind the impact. I had a monster headache, was nauseated, and cried for about 4 hours off and on; partly in pain, partly in humiliation, and partly in annoyance that in my concussed absence, some other girl was downstairs singing opera at the crowd and I was not fit to go down there and show her who was boss of that skill. (Hint: Not Her)

On fun occasions I have sustained injuries of smaller scope in both hilarity and severity:

Sunriver August ’08: Faulty sprinkler valve cover collapsed on me during a Frisbee game, sunk to my knee on the run. Scrapes.

Reno Roadtrip August ’08: Giant cinder landed on hand. Burn

Indian Head Beach October ’08: Bashed self in the face with a surfboard on errant wave: Fat lip.

Opal Creek July ’10: Slip and fall during descent to creek for kayaking trip. Broken hand

Clackamas River August ’10: Clotheslined by flotilla. Rope burn.


And I could go on, but there are too many to recount.

This last weekend I had more fun than I have had in recent memory, and so, naturally, I also hurt myself. I had, in fact, JUST gotten done telling my hiking companion

“Wow, it’s so great! I haven’t even fallen down!”

Which was clearly a cue for the Universe to Smite Me for my cheek, in this case on my cheek. Accordingly, I slipped as I was clambering over a rock and landed with all due force on my rear end. Hard. My hiking companion was compassionate and picked me up and brushed me off with great facility. He seemed distressed, but I knew that it was evidence of just how much fun I was having.


In the words of Spoon…

Everything Hits At Once

And are they ever right about that.

In this case, and for a change, a considerable portion of events have been good. Really good. One might even say good without precedent. Others have been breathtaking and heartbreaking, and so it all falls together in the way that it will.

My mother, who I love very much indeed, has just lost her longtime lover and companion. He was as ornery a cuss as ever lived. He loved to argue, and most of all, to get a rise out of people. When I first met him, I knew already about his penchant for starting verbal tussles. I resisted his every salvo, ignored his every prodding, until at last he looked me square in the eye and called me Cupcake.

There. Was. Rage.

Ultimately, I decided this wasn’t the worst thing to have someone call you, and I learned to accept his pet name with better grace. He still teasingly called me that, the last time we spoke. He and I were never close, but I know he cared very much for my mother, and even more than that he took care of her, which is something that virtually no one else in all of her life has done. She has always been the breadwinner, the bacon bringer. John loved my mother, at her prickly, vain, harsh, and passionate worst, and in all the days they were together, she felt loved; well and truly, for the first and only time in all her life. I am very sorry indeed that she has lost him.

Other people, close and dear to me, are going through transitions of similar import. They are profound in their mystery, wondrous in the ambient power they exert. Those are not my tales to tell. But they work on me, in their way.

And then my own tumbling; this weekend quite literally. Still waiting to hear if my tailbone is just bruised, or if I managed to crack it. This all entwined with discovery and concordance, bliss and laughing-to-the-point-of-pain.

Amidst it all, I try to keep my eyes open to these wonders; my senses alive to the magic of this moment in time, which is even now, racing away.





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