“The inner impulse, compulse, hope, prayer, is of course supreme.
I love words.” (Edna O’Brien)
Fatigue – tiredness – exhaustion – none of these terms convey what M.E. means, but imagine this: being completely overcome by overwhelming, all-encompassing, lead-heavy, bone-crushing, mind-numbing tiredness. There are times when I can hardly move. I lie on my back like a stranded insect, unable to lift a limb, lie absolutely flat, tree-trunks for arms, heavy and huge. The force of gravity swells with the depth of fatigue, no distance between the floor and me, I grow into it, out of it, I am like moss on a rock, rooted to the surface I lie on. Fatigue changes how I perceive my body.
Pain changes how I perceive my body. It focuses my being like nothing else. I change shape. My hands are fields of pain, my skin taut, as if about to tear open; fingertips are bullets, ready to shoot; furies pierce my skull and blow my will to smithereens. Pain sharpens existence to a point. I am absolutely in the present, cannot think, conceive, imagine anything beyond.
The shock of this illness, the recurrent shutting down of me, hits me with undiminished force each and every morning as I assess the gap between want and able to.