What should I be doing instead of this?
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Living Out Loud: : Pain Pals

Some days are better than others

By Susan Burke Steege · August 3rd, 2005 · Living Out Loud

Damn it -- the noise.

It was 6 a.m. and, with my eyes still shut tight, I reached over to hit the snooze. As I did so, I felt soreness in my hip and knee. I felt soreness in my hands. It hurt to lean across the bed toward the nightstand, and I wearily fell back onto my pillow after I silenced the incessant buzzing.

I was exhausted from turning off the damn alarm clock, and I didn't want to get up. I knew by the feel of my legs it would be painful.

Slowly, I got out of bed and moved into the shower. I was fine last night and even did the full round of floor exercises -- 50 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, leg lifts, stretches, the works. Most days you'd not know how sore I was. Most days, you'd look at me and think: "healthy, spry."

Today was not one of those days, and I've been having more days like this one.

Today it was an effort to open the bottle of anti-inflammatories.

"Why the hell don't they have easier containers to open, when the people who take these things often have arthritis," I wondered while opening the container.

Today it was an effort to walk down the porch steps and into the car. But I made it, and gratefully held onto the car door as I slid into the seat. I hoisted my leg in and rested.

I didn't want to be late for work again.

Luckily, it was my mother's car I got into, because she drove me into work and dropped me off at the corner of Fifth Street. All I needed to do was to cross the street and get into the building, where I could sit down. But no more steps, thank God.

As I waited on the corner, the light buzzed and said, "Walk." I walked. The light blinked red. I was still walking. The row of cars waiting for the green light inched forward. I looked over and gave them a dirty look, because I was still walking on my time.

I stepped onto the curb as the cars drove through the light.

I approached the revolving doors of the Westin, along with two women who were busy smoking cigarettes and talking. One woman stopped suddenly in front of me and went back to step out her cigarette. I was careful not to bump into her. The other kept talking, not knowing her companion had left her for the moment. Eventually, she stopped too -- in front of the revolving doors and in front of me.

I stepped out of their way and allowed both of them through the doors. It's like a bad driver on the expressway who's not paying attention. I didn't want to get run down.

They bumbled ahead, still chattering, and I carefully walked down two more steps that I forgot were there and moved through the lobby.

I passed a few people I worked with and said hello. I passed an older guy with muscular dystrophy, whom I see occasionally. He was having a harder time getting through the lobby. He tilted his head up when he saw me.

"Hey, hopalong," he said as he walked by.

"Hey," I said and reached out to touch his arm.

"You take care," he added.

"Yeah, you, too," I replied.

I got onto the elevators and I wanted to cry. I hurt. George hurt. I knew I was able to do exercises last night, and the pain would ease a little by the end of the day. But there are days I want to cry because I know I'm one of the lucky ones. I want to cry because I know, only a little, what it means to live with pain. I want to cry because I can't really, not really, imagine that pain not ever going away.

I thought about George with muscular dystrophy, whose pain wasn't going to go away, and the effort it takes for him to get around town. I wished there were a way to at least make things easier. I wished we were both having one of those days where we felt healthy and spry.



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