There are things much worse than what I have. Cancer, microcephaly, birth defects, limb amputation. I have unexplained chronic sprains and pain in my four connecting points, my ankles and wrists. I call them connecting points because they are really what connects one to the world around them — feet on the earth, hands to feel it.
Part of me thinks this is the part where I should explain how bad the pain is to catch your attention and convince you, even though I just finished dismissing my condition. I’ll go with it. My main injuries are my right ankle and wrist. I haven’t run in 6 years, I’ve sprained my right ankle 9 times but never had the grace of breaking it, if I step on something with a certain part of my foot it feels like my bone splinters and my ankle becomes effectively ‘sprained.’ I can’t write without excruciating wrist pain, lately my two left articles (wrist & ankle) are now almost as bad as my right, despite never having been injured, and opening doors or holding a glass of water have become perplexing exercises in choosing a sacrificial limb for the day.
I am a rock climber and I haven’t climbed in over four months. I finally got my dream job, where I’m expected to run and climb. I can barely handle the pain of walking.
I’ve had 2 MRIs, 4 X-rays, and an ultrasound on my ankle over the years. “Possible prior fracture,” “thickening,” “bone chips,” “probably not the cause.”
My last appointment: “We’ll requisition another MRI for both ankles. Then we’ll know what’s wrong. Then we can treat.”
My last MRI was a six month wait. I’m thrilled to see how this one will be different. I’m thrilled to “hang in there.”
Part of me thinks this is the part where I should explain how high my pain tolerance is, and how I sometimes wonder if everything is actually broken and, since I’m so tough, the doctors just haven’t considered it. I’ll go for it. I’m a national-level competitive rock climber. I like to walk barefoot on gravel. My coach says I have the highest pain tolerance he’s seen. So does my mum 🙂 . I let my physiotherapist do some wicked painful things in silence ‘for the sake of progress’, which may have led to my present unhealing state.
Miss Obe Dient
Needless to say, my mental state has been seriously affected. I can seriously say that, throughout my childhood, junior, and senior high years, I have never felt insecure. About my body, my eating, my likeability, my character, my mind. Remarkable. I am incredibly lucky to have had such a peaceful, stable childhood.
I figure maybe now is the time I get to make up for that relative lack of teenage petulance. Now it’s okay to I’m extremely at foreseeing consequences in order to avoid pain for others and myself. My parents raised me incredibly well and, as a result, I was incredibly well-behaved, mature, and respectful. Somewhere along the way respect for others became tied to love for them, and love became tied to obedience.
Introducing Miss Obe Dient. She doesn’t take risks that might hurt others. She has an adventurous heart that is branded and interned by a burning conscience. She is kind, the best friend you could have, dreams of living on the rocks. She doesn’t disobey words or wishes because she is afraid her mum will take it as a sign that Miss Dient doesn’t love her.
Music. One day, it hit me that I am incredibly immature, in the “unmatured” sense. Until this month, I used to begrudge my lack of original music taste, wishing I’d developed it from cool bands I had found, not my family. Then I listened to my dad talk about the friends from which he discovered the music that he exposed me to, and I now love. That was the mistake. I considered myself “mature.” I am 17 years old. Many have called me an “old soul,” which I agreed with. I seem a lot more sensible, put together, less spazzy than my peers. It’s actually just because I was content and stable, confident in the world I had. I’m chill and calm not because I already have my life together but because I have not dealt with much of life.
Money. I’ve always been really cheap — Until this month, I thought that good money management meant just not spending. Hence, I thought me, whose responsibilities and expenses chalked up to an occasional Tim Horton’s doughnut, had it worked out better than everyone who did spend. I would try to convince mum and dad to pay for things, or feel dread at going out with friends or buying gifts for people. Not an overly charming characteristic. BOOM, I realized that true money management lies in actually spending. A LOT. Because you spend on what matters to you, which happens to be a lot. Housing, shelter, outings, and family. You can’t skimp on anything because it all matters. Spending money can be truly a matter of respect for the relationships in your life. Why the hell did I think my parents have spent so much money on me?
Memory. Until now, I haven’t ever bothered to remember things myself. Names, places, directions, stories, dates — I’d immediately dump them out of my mind, unimportant compared to the facts I needed to memorize for school. This month, I realized I literally know nothing of use, and have no practice knowing it. Laziness? Apathy?
Operating machines. One day, it hit me that I haven’t taken the initiative to set up or fix a single machine throughout my life. Computer bug? Get dad. Focusing a microscope in science class? Let my lab partner Daniela do it, through to high school biology, and I couldn’t set one up if you asked me today. Threading a sewing machine? watched the YouTube video with my friend, Andrew, then watched him have at ‘er.
I am shocked about these things, and shocked that I am shocked.
I have never considered the world the way I consider it now.
Maybe that’s growing up.
The way by which I managed to stay innocent was by thinking I was already mature.
Why should I be shocked that these things, seeming small to me, can come as such epiphanies?
I have a flair for the dramatic.
I am completely devastated that I cannot climb, and that is why I am not afraid to write this.
I have been too terrified to write this for a month.
Triage Bands Around my Connecting Points
I can chalk it down to one thing. I am young, and find it inconceivably unfair not to be able-bodied.
I wonder what it’s like to be worse, with a cap on your lifespan, or something confirmed never to heal.
I believe you can find peace on a plastic wall.
I don’t know what the future hold with my injuries, with long nights kept awake by invisible triage bands of ache around my wrists & ankles shouting “BAD BUT NOT THAT BAD,” with climbing, with being able to write and university, with the roadtrips I wanted to go on. I wanted it all, now. I’d never imagined life after this point. Especially not like this. I’m going to need to change. Wildly change.
It’s time to divorce Ms. Obe Dient, but I don’t know life without her.
To those of you who read this, I would be pleased if you left your name and introduction in the comments. I’d love to learn & remember it.