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The Metaphor I Use to Explain My Chronic Hip Pain

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I was recently admitted to the hospital, and had bilateral injections into the bursae of my hips. To put it mildly, it was intensely uncomfortable. To tell the truth, it led to the most painful and unpredictable week of my life and it’s still knocked me off a carefully constructed stable platform, which I’m not convinced I’ll ever recreate. And it didn’t work. And I’ve cried. And I’ve screamed. And I’ve threatened to rip my bones out and throw them at the next person who tells me “you’re one step closer” because, since I cannot walk properly at this moment, that is precisely what I’m not.

But I know they’re trying to help – they hate watching a 21-year-old female writhe in pain she can no longer explain. So for my mental stability, and their feelings, this is the theory I give them – I hope it can be of some assistance to someone out there.


I see my hips as a jar. One summer’s day, a fly found its way into the jar, and got stuck. Occasionally it makes a break for freedom, but generally it’s stayed put for just over a year. Unpleasant. Painful. But bearable.

But the fly cannot stay there. And so we decided the next summer to suffocate it. We injected a combination of lethal factors, and we kept our fingers crossed that something would work, and now the fly is angry. It is throwing itself desperately at the walls of the jar, unpredictably and with newfound vigor. Sometimes the fly can be appeased with a sweet offering, in the form of codeine or other pain medication. Sometimes, this makes it angrier. It’s going to stay angry, because it didn’t like the lethal invasion of its home.

So now, it is my job to keep the walls of the jar strong, so that my team can try to extract the fly another way, by taking the lid off, perhaps, or by suffocation. Whatever the method we choose, the fly has it coming, and my body needs to be prepared for round two.

What I need then, is my hand held, my eyes wiped and to laugh. I need to live my life, surrounded by those who understand that the fly is very much still present, and very much still angry. We haven’t taken our steps yet, but we will, and my jar and my mind need to be in the best possible position to do so.

To the fly in the jar, this is your eviction notice.

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Thinkstock photo via Jeffrey Hamilton.

Originally published: June 12, 2017
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