Today, I Wasn't OK With My Illness — and That's OK

I shattered my deodorant this morning.

I threw — no, not threw… I chucked it so hard against the cinder block walls of my bedroom that smithereens of plastic decorated the floor.

Destroying something filled me with more distress than the short-lived relief of watching it shatter.

The morning didn’t start out that way, though. I woke up to the sound of my partner Sean putting away dishes and coffee trickling into a grateful and willing mug. I smiled, took a deep breath and turned toward the empty side of the bed missing its lovely occupant, burying my face into his pillow. As with every morning, I then wiggled my toes and fingers to see how it would feel to live in my body today. Toes? Check. Fingers? Oh shit.

I lifted my hands into my view and wiggled them again, hoping the first time wasn’t actually how they felt. The second time I wiggled them, a shooting pain shot from the tips of three of them up into my arm. I flinched and wrote it off to rainy morning arthritic stiffness.

I wobbled out to the kitchen for my morning ritual of Maxwell House in my Marilyn Monroe mug. She’s worn from years of daily use; I am a creature of habit and the shape of this mug is familiar to my hands. The inside is permanently coffee-stained, and I rue the day that someone, or I, shattered her in the sink accidentally.

I wrapped my swollen, painful hands around the mug and held it up to my nose to breathe it in. The heat felt good on my swollen fingers. Sean and I talked about what the day would hold, and I slowly came to life.

As the morning passed, I rested easily on the couch, elevating my hands in hopes that the swelling would diminish. A few hours later, they only worsened. One finger in particular was the most swollen, bent into the shape of a comma that separated nothing but my intentions for the day and the reality of it.

Determined to take my mind off of it, I got off the couch and did the dishes from the morning. As I washed each one, pain shot through my veins, and I cried over the sink. I continued to wash, because I’m only 28, god dammit, and I’m not going to be unable to wash my own dishes. I washed, and cried, and rinsed, and repeated.

After that, I walked into the bedroom to get dressed. On went the bra and undies — OK, that wasn’t so bad — one armpit covered in deodorant — check. Next armpit — not so lucky.

I bit my lower lip and carried the deodorant to Sean and asked him to put it on the unlucky armpit that I couldn’t do myself. He did, and I looked away, ashamed to be so young and need help with such basic things. Tears filled my eyes but I hid my face. I thanked him and walked back into the room. Instead of putting the deodorant in my vanity drawer, I chucked it against the cinder block wall, curled up on the bed, and sobbed.

Sean immediately came in and laid down next to me, and ran his hand over my hair, apologizing for my body rejecting me — because it won’t apologize for itself.

Most days don’t look like this. Most days, I can go about life without melting, and shattering deodorant canisters.

Today was not one of them, and that’s OK.

Sometimes it’s OK to feel the relief of shattering something against a cinder block wall when it feels like everything else is shattering inside your body.

Today, I’m not OK — but I’m OK in my not-OK-ness.

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