I've been asked to keep a tendon diary. I need to record the pain and stiffness out of ten, every morning for four weeks. And also note what I did the day before. Could I manage that?
I said, I've kept a journal of far less important things for over a decade, I can handle twenty-eight days.
Tendon Journal, Day 1
I've suffered through chronic pain for so long now that I'm forgetting that the people around me aren't feeling the same way I do. I'm talking about pain that gnaws at you the longer the day goes on, that makes it so you can't find a comfortable position to hold your body in, has you hopping from side to side by 3pm to shift the pressure because you can't sit still. Pain that makes it hard to focus on the words on a screen. Pain that makes you speak short, curt answers to everything even though you don't want to be grumpy. Every single day. For years.
I know, I'm not the only one with lingering injuries, or past trauma. I know that others are dealing with terminal illnesses, or dying in floods, or all of the above.
But it's reached the point now where I'm actually scared of couches. I don't sit on them. If they're soft, or low, my lumbar freaks out. It can take less than a minute to happen, and the inflammation can last for weeks. I avoid chairs too, plastic, wooden, office chairs. Anything firm will compress my hamstring tendon. Everything I sit down on is an investment into future pain. Every walk I take has a future cost.
It's gotten really bad lately. Despite years of resting, stretching, strengthening, icing, medicating, standing, inebriation. Despite paying thousands for physiotherapy, radiology, anti-inflammatories, and ergonomic improvements the pain is so ubiquitous that I feel like I'm losing touch with reality. I’m trapped in its cycle. It’s reached a point where I feel like I have to write about my internal burdens so they don't consume me from within.
I just want to live a normal life as an IT professional who wants to be a writer/photographer/web designer. I need a way to be able to sit at a computer! I'm writing this on my back with my phone.
I'd rather be broke than inflamed, so I attended another specialist appointment today where I was told much of the previous specialist advice I'd been given by other expensive specialists was mis-advised. I was told exercises and stretches I'd been suffering through every day were probably making things worse. Then I was given new stretches and exercises. Was I optimistic then? Or did I want to punch something? (I would never punch something, I'd probably hurt myself.)
Another thing I was told about tendons is that it can take up to 12 weeks before seeing any improvements, and not to give up before then. I left my appointment, the sunset gleaming on the glass of the city. A certain, remembered warmness lingered in in the air. Winter was over. Twelve weeks. The first day of Hamspring.
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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.