The Sneeze That Woke the Beast

***A fable about the last few days of my life***


Sitting on the sofa, I watch some mountain monster hunting show and breathe. The night before had been one of the most torturous of my life. The left side of my back had been seized by some creature’s claws that kept squeezing the muscles over and over again. I was wracked with pain so intense it left me uttering shuddering moans in between its grip. With the help of heating pads and painkillers, I had gotten the thing to let go, and now, in my mind’s eye, I could see it slumbering. I could also see its bony hand loosely draped against my back. I hoped it would stay asleep forever. Then I felt it, a foreboding tickle in my nose. My heart sank as it grew and I realized I was going to sneeze. My shoulders shifted forward, and my back curled over on itself as my nose exploded. I sat in terror waiting to see if it would set off a new series of spasms. I closed my eyes and prayed. I could see it, eyes still closed but its breathing was uneven, and as I watched I saw the whites of its eye appear and then its pupil roll down. It stretched and wrapped its claws around my back again and started to squeeze. I hobbled hunchbacked into the kitchen to get the heating pad again. Hoping a warm blanket would put it back to sleep so that I could sleep tonight. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and I didn’t.

*** A few years ago, I was plagued by back spasms every few months. They had gone away as mysteriously as they appeared and it wasn’t until Monday night that I was reminded just how excruciatingly painful they were. I’ve been pretty much sofa-bound this week, unable to even type because the action of leaning forward would cause the muscle to tighten again. This morning, my back began feeling normal again. I’m still exceedingly cautious in every movement I make. I’m living life at the speed of a tai chi master.  ***

Please! Help Me!

Today’s visit with mom started out overwhelmingly rough. She hadn’t had enough pain medication and was in excruciating pain. When my sister and I got there she was screaming “Please! Help me!” over and over and over again. My other sister and brother were already there and they had called the nurse but she was busy. I felt so helpless watching my mom in so much pain and being unable to do anything. My mom has always had a very high threshold for pain so I could only imagine the level of agony she was experiencing. At one point she was calling for my sister and her lifelong best friend, who are both dead. There were several moments where I wondered if the pain was going to kill her while we stood helplessly by unable to do anything to help her. It was so difficult to keep it together but my crying would have served no purpose at that moment. Thankfully the nurse finally came and gave mom the pain medications she so desperately needed. After a little while, my mom fell into a deep sleep, exhausted after the morning’s ordeal. My sisters, brother, and I left while she was sleeping just to give her the quiet she needed. I hope the doctors can figure out what her pain needs are because I don’t think she can survive another episode like that one.