Tag Archives: chronic pain

My Sister Is in Pain

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I’m afraid some people will find panel 3’s realistic depiction of a sink full of disgusting dishes perhaps a little bit triggering. 

This is rather a personal subject for me, but Bonnie Jo keeps referring to these comics as literary criticism, and, the human brain being what it is, it’s impossible for a critic to not inject themselves into their interpretation. So I drew my own sister in panel 1, and myself in panel 6. That’s the real reason I didn’t draw this one last night: it’s not a comfortable subject to dwell on. A sighted person can never understand what it’s like to be blind, and a person without chronic pain can never understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain.

And I guess a person with chronic pain can never understand what it’s like for their loved ones to cope with their chronic pain. But this story explains it pretty well.

This is probably the most detailed BJC comic so far, illustration-wise. Everyone’s hair is on point. I went insane withe those dirty dishes. It helped that I started early and didn’t stress out. A couple hours in, the Bear called me up and he ended up coming over to hang out. I can’t think of how many nights I spent at his place watching him work, so he didn’t mind watching me, and he was very helpful in taking the source photo for the last panel. Usually I spent 15 minutes setting up the shot–a lot of time spent finding the right height for the camera, and a thing to hold it at that height–and then have to take a dozen photos to get the picture. But his help eliminated the setup, and he got the shot on the second picture. Artists helping artists.

My Senior Moments

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Actually, I’d rather forget about the diagnoses I already have. 

It’s late; I’m tired. Also, I have depression and chronic pain. And insomnia. But not, I’ve been reassured, early onset Alzheimer’s, although my grandmother and 2 of my aunts both died from it, so it could still happen. Until then, the only option is to soldier through the cyclical feeling that I’m down 2 or 3 standard deviations on the bell curve, intelligence-wise. Then I just remind myself of this classic scene from The Simpsons. Losing my perspicacity, indeed.

There would have been more to this blog post but it’s late, I’m tired, and I have depression, chronic pain, and insomnia. Oh! Here’s a good one; I also forgot to eat dinner. All in all, things have not been optimal.

I Have a Cold

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Ain’t no rest for the wicked.

When I was a kid, I used to fake being sick all the time. I hated school with its rigid rules and social structures, where I was frequently bullied and rarely interested. Middle school was the height of it, and even though my mom was pretty suspicious, I managed to get away with it more than half the time. The old thermometer against the light bulb trick. I don’t think you can do that anymore, not with digital thermometers. The trick with the mercury thermometer was that you had to shake it back down because there was no way Mom would believe in a temperature of 107. The sweet spot is about 101. Too sick for school, but not so sick that you would need a doctor or an adult to stay home and look after you.

Now, of course, I fake being not sick all the time. Like every day if you count ignoring chronic and basically untreatable conditions that affect my performance as I move through the world. But after a couple days of a chest cold, it’s hard to play tough. Yesterday I got through the day (getting up 2 hours early, traveling almost to the border, being on as a speaker for 2 college classes, being on as a friend through lunch with the other speakers, and through the afternoon, and then riding back and then running errands with The Man and then being on for more people and for dinner, after which I was at negative spoons) with a lot of medication along with the help of a handy TENS unit, but I also passed out long before midnight. And today I have more important things to do, and have to keep pretending not to be sick as long as possible. But I still wanted to update my blog with this very important comic before I try to repeat my performance, except with 2 kindergarten classes instead of 2 college classes, and slightly less traveling (but lots more driving).

Just sneezed all over my screen and keyboard. Gonna be a long day.

Mildly Unsettling Macros

There will be no trigger warnings. This post encapsulates my mood right now with a fair degree of accuracy.

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Here’s a momento mori for you. We all die. Tomatoes sooner than humans, usually.

Feeling positively nasty today, a fine combination of chronic pain, sleep deprivation caused by chronic pain, and that weird, crusty, dirtiness of a day-old tattoo that begs to be washed but at the same time prevents you from taking a good shower or hot tub soak, because you spent a lot of money on that tattoo and you need to baby it if you want to keep it.

So, even though I had a comic idea, there’s no way I can use the tablet tonight. I can barely type. So, here are some macros. The first one is a dead leaf from last year’s tomato plant. Not my plant even; I’ve never successfully grown a tomato bigger than a marble out here.

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Yech. Blech. Meh.

This is an aphid infestation on a bean plant. They are fava beans, to be specific, but I hesitate to mention that fact, because the second you say “fava beans,” people’s brains fall out of their ears and all they can do it babble on about a nice chianti. This picture isn’t even that great, but it makes me kind of itchy.

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No, thank you. Feel free to leave at any time.

Finally, this is a mouse that The Man found inside his gym shoe. Apparently my cat was losing her freaking mind over it. Most likely, she brought this little vermin in the house to play with and then got annoyed when it didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to play with it either. I wanted The Man to remove it from the house. He wanted me to photograph it, which is why it’s in a mason jar here instead of a shoe. He thought that he should put a mouse inside a vessel I use to store food.

Hopefully I sleep tonight, because 3 days without sleep renders me pretty useless. And allow me to point out that yesterday I was so tired that I literally forgot my car. I mean, I left it downtown and came home without it and then realized well into the night that my car was very far away, which would have a large impact on my day today. So, if yesterday I lost my car and today I was unable to go to my volunteer job or draw a comic, just imagine how hilariously I’ll screw my life up tomorrow if I don’t sleep again.

Pain Map

Be gentle. You have no idea about the weight of other people's burdens.

Be gentle. You have no idea about the weight of other people’s burdens.

I’ve never applied for any type of disability, but The Man has 3 pins in his knee, which resulted in a medical discharge from the Air Force, and he did have a hang tag for many years. We only used it when we were absolutely out of spoons, but even so some vigilante once left a note on the windshield accusing us of not being handicapped enough. It’s not a contest, people. You don’t want what we have. Also, the picture on the sign is just a symbol: there are disabilities other than being a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair.

This was the hardest comic I’ve ever scripted. Fibromyalgia is a subject I don’t care to discuss much (see panel 2). Adolescence taught me to never expose any weakness. Whenever the subject came up, doctors dismissed it and no one sympathized, or cared, or, I suspect, believed me. Most people don’t know that I have a chronic pain disorder; I try not to let it dictate my life, and when it does, I try to make sure that it doesn’t dictate other people’s lives. But the reality of my life is that I do have a chronic pain disorder. Invisible diseases exist, and you can’t judge someone’s level of disability. Clearly, I’m better off than many, because I’m still generally able to hide the problem, but that doesn’t give anyone a right to question its existence.

If I bring it up in person, you better believe there’s a reason that information is being shared: I have limits. I only mention it here because of consumer demand for a continuing series of comics cataloging all the excruciating reasons I’ve failed to summit the heights of my potential. It’s all about telling the most horrible parts with brutal honesty. I’m not complaining and I’m not looking for sympathy. I just need you to understand that this is the truth.

A Green, Leafy Mandala

So refreshing...

So refreshing…

Chronic pain is the absolute worst.

I couldn’t get in to see the only massage therapist I even trust to work on me anymore, because she’s so good she’s usually booked 3 weeks in advance, so I went to community acupuncture, which is something I do about once every other year. The Man has had great success with it for his neurological headaches, which no other treatment can even touch, but somehow it’s only very moderately useful for me. Sometimes it causes extreme, electrical pain, which is not good in a community setting because it’s unfair to other people if I’m screaming in the quiet room. When the needles go in all right, I can only keep them in for about 15 minutes before my muscles start to spasm. The relief is usually temporary–in this case, it lasted about an hour.

Apparently he released something else inside of me because about halfway through the treatment I was overcome with a tidal wave of sorrow–something about the generic Chinese-sounding new age music they play struck me as inconsolably sad–and tears began to stream down my face.

That part actually was OK.

I managed to get about half the office cleaned today but made no progress on the comic even though it’s a really simple, one-panel comic that I should have been able to draw in an hour. I spent an hour last night trying to write one word (part of the image rather than the text) and erasing it over and over because it didn’t look right. I suspect the template is too small, as I’ve had trouble getting word bubbles to look legible in the one-panels in the past.

Chronic pain also makes me stupid. Like, when I talk the wrong words come out of my mouth. I was trying to tell the acupuncturist about my disc problem and I said, “It’s between L4 and L5,” when obviously, based on the location of the pain, I meant “C4 and C5.” He knew what I meant, but it was bizarre that my mouth referenced a completely different part of my body than what my brain wanted to discuss. Later, talking about arranging my office, I said “shelves” when I wanted “drawers.”

I am still beating The Man in Words with Friends, though.

He just remembered that we own a TENS unit, which is a thing we both tend to forget until we’re incapacitated. It provides a good measure of relief. Maybe I can get the comic started. I think it’s a good gag; I described it to The Man and he laughed, even though he was trying not to because he doesn’t like to admit that I’m pretty funny. He likes to be the funny one. But there can be room for 2 comedians in a marriage: George and Gracie, Lucy and Desi. Of course, the woman is usually the funnier one…

Lame blog post. I usually don’t talk about chronic pain but sometimes that’s all there is.

As for this mandala, it would make a pretty cool T-shirt.