Mari lifted her head up from the pillow and squinted her eyes at the clock on her nightstand. The time read four forty-five in the morning. She closed her eyes again, trying to fall back asleep, but the pain she’d been trying to ignore, edged itself into her slumber, pulling her out of the darkness of sleep and into the burning clutches of its powerful grasp.
She had been hoping and praying she was through the worst of it, but realized in these early hours of the morning, that her body had yet to be done with her. She wanted to cry and she wanted to scream, but she did neither. She rolled over onto her side, hoping the shift in position would help. She fell back into a restless slumber for another fifteen minutes, before her body forced her into full wakefulness, unwilling to let itself surrender to the night. Instead, it succumbed to the pain and dragged her kicking and screaming from the few hours of precious sleep she desperately needed.
Mari sat up and propped herself on her pillows, knowing she would get no more rest until the waves pulled themselves back. She rummaged around in the middle drawer of her nightstand for her heating pad that would bring her enough relief to keep her from utterly losing it.
She plugged it in and cranked the heating pad to its maximum level, letting the warmth gradually spill over her body and wrap her up into its comforting embrace. She prayed this would be enough, because it was much too early to attempt to get her body to handle taking any pain medications.
From every angle, she fought her body. Everyday, each choice she made affected her. Some choices, she didn’t even know would take her down until she was already too far gone. Others would give her relief, but she had yet to figure out what events had led to those rare days of bliss.
For twenty minutes, the heating pad worked to give her the relief she had been looking for and she began to feel hopeful as she breathed easier, and slumber began to hover over her sleepy eyelids, drooping and closing, bringing her back to the land of dreams.
She didn’t know how long she had fallen asleep for, but when she woke again with a twisted pain to her midsection, she could barely make out the morning light shining through the black out curtains in her room. The heating pad had auto shut off sometime during her sleep and she sought its comfort once more. This time the pain was so intense, that in the solitude of her room, she let herself cry out in agony as the waves rolled through her. She rocked on her hands and knees, trying to find any way to relieve her suffering.
She managed to ride the waves of pain until they ebbed away enough for her to get up and find some food in her kitchen, getting just enough relief to have a few bites to eat and down a couple Tylenol with a few sips of water. She knew the Tylenol wouldn’t be adequate enough, but she hoped that she’d be able to take some stronger medication once she knew her stomach could handle it.
She sat at the kitchen table, hunched over as she heard her household slowly start to wake up. She knew she had many tasks to accomplish as the day unfolded and wondered how she would be able to face each one. Her life was a whirlwind of activity and she wished she could find a way to box up this incurable affliction and send it packing, but she knew this would never be the case.
The sounds quieted down as those who had been up, went back to slumber for a little bit longer. Mari took advantage of this and slowly made her way back to her bedroom and turned the heating pad on again, back up to its highest setting, and placed it on her body, hoping and praying it would do its job. Picking her phone up off the nightstand, she swiped it open and started to do anything to keep her mind off her body’s affliction. She clicked randomly around on her phone for as long as she could, not able to concentrate on any particular thing very well, but sent off some messages to a few friends, seeking their help in prayers.
She knew her day would soon be upon her and prayed for the strength to do what she needed to do and take care of her family. Mari agonized that she wasn’t giving enough to those around her, this illness taking from her, stealing time, stealing moments, stealing bits of her life, never to be returned.
She prayed for relief, for anything to take this constant never ending pain away from her. And as she lay there, her phone buzzed, her dear friends had replied, with an outpouring of care and comfort, giving her hope amidst her misery. Alone in this fight for so long, and now, finding other kindred spirits, other warriors on the same path as her, fighting courageously, encouraging and uplifting each other, had filled her up with strength to make it through these endless days of pain, to face each month of recurring suffering with renewed hope.
She smiled. Even amidst her ongoing agony, she found a smile hidden inside of her and she felt less alone as she fought a fight she knew may never end. But with the help, love, and care of others along the road with her to help her, of friends and loved ones doing what they could, even with just the simple words, “I’m praying for you. I’m here for you. I care about you. You will get through this,” it made it her arduous journey a little more bearable and a little less lonely.
Song: Bill Withers – Lean On Me
This is dedicated to all those who suffer in silence, who fight their bodies every day, and are warriors every second as they tackle the incurable diseases that constantly afflict them.
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