An unfunny thing happened to me once I got home. I began to hurt.
While I was away those four weeks, my body settled into a rhythm of its own making. I’d expected that being in unfamiliar surroundings for that long would raise my stress level and thus make my disease rear its ugly head. But, that didn’t happen. Instead, I found a calming, physical peace. A peace that I now miss almost as much as I miss holding my new grandchild in my arms.
Maybe it was sharing the first few weeks of her life that had me feeling so high pain could not intrude. There was no time and no room for it, no portal left open for it to enter.
Unknowingly or instinctively, I scheduled a buffer, a few relaxing days in Key West. A cushioning, so to speak, between There and Here. Between Away and Back. Between Dream and Reality.
I related all this to my rheumatologist, my confessor of all things physical. And he said the strangest thing. Sitting across from me at his desk, he stopped his note-taking and looked at me. “When I travel I feel fine, it’s when I come back that I start to hurt,” he said.
I could only nod mutely. I am always taken aback when someone understands and verbalizes exactly what I am trying to say. I’m more used to being misunderstood or ignored even.
And then I remembered; my confessor and I share the same disease. Of course he knows what Rheumatoid Arthritis feels like! How it can grab you and swing you around and slam you into the ground time and again, sort of like the Hulk did to Loki in the movie, The Avengers.
That was a funny scene, more so because it was quite unexpected. The audience couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Loki deserved to be treated that way, but as a god, puny though he might be, he was left unfazed and unhurt. All that was wounded was his pride. For the moment.
Unlike Loki, we are neither gods, nor descendent of frost giants. We are warm and human, and don’t deserve to be treated this way; no one’s laughing. Yet like Loki, we stand defiant, sure that we can withstand anything, before we find ourselves flying through the air being swung by our feet, helpless.
And like Loki, we get up. We don’t stay down. We fight back. Once that look of surprise leaves our face.