Waking Up With Chronic Illness


You wake up sick.

You always wake up sick.

Today you’re more nauseous than usual, though your stomach is usually churning when you catalogue your pain and try to figure out the eternal question of how bad it will be today.

Today, your body burns and aches, just like every day. It’s not a good one. It hurts more than it does half the time.

Your muscles feel like something is pulling at them until they’re just about as taut as violin strings. Waves of dull pain ripple through your limbs.

Today is worse than it could be, but it’s not a surprise. Some days are like this.

You are awake early — before 7. It’s a real feat.

It takes forever to get up the strength to stretch your heavy body enough for your arm to get to your meds, for you to search your purse for your anti-nausea medication, but you manage it and wash it down with Coke.

In your defense, it’s the only thing on your bedside table, and you don’t have the energy to get up and go to the bathroom to get a drink of water.

It’s not realistic.

You take your pills. Flop back onto the bed and let the pain, the tight, burning ache, settle in your body.

You try to stretch. It hurts, and it never provides as much relief as you think it will, but it provides some even if it mostly just pulls at your muscles more and feels a little like you’re detaching your bones from their sockets. It feels like your bones hurt too, an ache that starts with your burning skin, the sunburnt feeling you can never quite get rid of, and it goes right to the bone, because of course it does.

You manage to take a couple of Aleve, a feat if you’ve ever heard one, and you even stumble out of bed to brush your teeth, because your mouth tastes like a nuclear power plant and there’s some things you just cannot take. Your hands are unsteady, and when you try to gargle you just spill water down your shirt, your body too unused to the day to even try to have reflexes.

You go back to bed. You can’t actually get up yet. The morning is a fog in your brain. You curl up in bed. You uncurl and try to stretch your legs and then relax your body, which stays stiff, a little arched off of the bed, after you do.

When you stretch, there’s a popping, crackling feeling.

A hot numbness travels to your hands, like all your burning blood has decided to rest there. They feel swollen, though they’re not.

You have to take a shower. You are not excited about that. Showers aren’t relaxing for you; they’re an odyssey.

Dragging yourself to the bathroom, gingerly pulling your clothes off, your hands constricting and throbbing as you turn on the shower, getting in and that’s the least bad part, but then there’s the getting out, where you have to turn off the shower and towel yourself off, which, depending on the day, feels like rubbing sandpaper all over your skin.

So you’re not looking forward to that.

Instead you’re lying in bed trying to capture the hour it takes to even think of actually getting up in words, because you woke up sick.

You always wake up sick.

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