Right now, I’m hunched over the keyboard at 1:47am, tired, exhausted and in pain. My mind however has different plans. It hums with thought and drive and the need to express it. Not knowing what to do I thought id open a window into what today is like. Just 1 day in my shoes.
Right now, it feels like a rubber band is right under my sternum and around my spine, attached to all the organs. It’s constant, deep and frankly since I’m being open fucking annoying. I can’t sit up or the pressure increases. Sometimes when its like this… and I’m really feeling ornery I’ll just straighten out and sit up against it. When I do that it goes sharp and feels like an explosion. When it happened like that the first time, I genuinely thought I was dying. I thought at 1 in the morning I was having a heart attack. Flat out excruciating and suffocating. I became fearful and claustrophobic of my body. I woke my wife up through the pain, I could barely breathe but if I was dying, I wanted her to be present. Back at that time, the only thing I did was sit up and all that followed. So right now? The catalyst to this current pain is because I ate a single handful of gold fish. A child’s snack and I can’t sit up from pain.
Now for the rest of the day, I’ll back track. I woke up late from bad sporadic sleep. Slow and hangry, knowing I need to eat as its been 20 hours at least. I don’t eat, because my daughter is present and happy, and I don’t want to be in pain. I try to focus feeling as if I’m I have a tranquilizer through my blood and respond to emails and make some important phone calls. That’s about it for productivity.
You know what’s crushing? When your 21-month-old daughter asks you with concern on her face “are you okay?” it really sounds like “you otay?” but with serious genuine care. Kids see right through you, right through your armor. I can’t tell her the anguish and suffering, its too often and too much. She asks it at the dinner table and she asks it when I think I’m hiding the weight of all this. It kills me.
I then try to eat and take my vitamins and its just torture. I am immobile for about 30 minutes. You know that mental battle of panic and control when you have the flu? Like you’re just finding out your about to vomit and you try not to? Well it’s a battle I have every time I eat. With terrible pain and that nausea, the fear of moving or losing concentration floors me. It passes with time and while I don’t feel the same pain, I just battled my body aches from generally not eating and the energy starts to wean.
I try to spend time with my daughter and talk to my wife, but the passing of the torch usually happens. Jennifer gets a break from corralling the little one and I read Abigail all the books she brings me. Its close to the heart but the lack of energy and will slowing take over. I don’t want anyone to see me when I’m battling pain, most of all my daughter.
Eventually the pain or energy starts to win, and I lay down. While I’m down I start to think of my next moves and not focus on the bad. I watched Rick Dancer live on his Facebook and I hear mention of a commemoration recognizing a death of a homeless veteran, Col. Tom Egan. Who now has warming centers for homeless named after him. There is a drive or a call that I must pay my respects, not knowing him but he was and still is apart of a brotherhood. I weigh mentally how much energy I have left for the day, knowing the cold and just the action will push me past what I can do. I put 2 sweaters, 1 sweatshirt and a jacket on and say to hell with it and go anyway. (at 3ish% body fat and 109 pounds you need layers)
I go pay my respects, to a soldier who lost to the suffering and died in the cold. But not in vein.
I see the spot he last laid, it’s cold, wet and windy. The Wet and Cold brings some closeness and comfort of times in training and service. You learn to embrace the “suck” in the infantry out in the mud and misery and it brings a cheeky smile of, I don’t know resistance or madness. It gives perspective seeing how low he must have felt. I fight my battles with them in mind, for the soldier who lost the fight, I live my life for those who can’t. I want the voices that can’t be heard to be garnered and the voices lost to be remembered. I won’t quit my struggle, I don’t think I actually can. It’s wired in me.
I return to my warm home and I physically feel awful. I take a shower to warm up, but I am spent. I’m nauseous and tired like I just went to the gym. I feel sick, like the beginnings of a cold. I lie down and avoid my family in this form. It’s all from overdoing it, but it was worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I do this every day. I’m generally feeling better now but the pain is there, from the damn gold fish. Mind humming and stomach growling and here we are. If I didn’t push myself, I would have no power to win this battle. I can’t and won’t lay idle and be sick.
Grammatical errors may be present, my editor who happens to be my wife is asleep, like a normal person.