Saturday, September 18, 2010

Everyday Items

One of the things Elaine Scarry speaks to at some length in The Body in Pain is the way in which ordinary objects became symbols of pain through the act of torture.  An example she gives is the refrigerator, which can become a bludgeon, the floor, walls, hot water, etc.  She speaks of Germany in the 1940s, and the associations attached by death camp survivors to things such as showers, ovens, lampshades, and soap (41).

While reading this chapter, I kept thinking about how ordinary experiences, not so much things, become symbols of pain for one with chronic pain. 

Last night, I went to see a film at a movie theatre, something I had come to dread during the day.  Every time I go to the movies, I end up in such terrible pain, for sitting for long periods of time is one of the hardest things for me.  The film was Eat, Pray, Love, a movie divided into three parts, and by the end of the first third I was considering leaving to go care for myself.  I had to shift constantly and even so could not eliminate the pain to any degree.

Similarly, the long car trip has become an image of agony for me.  I went on vacation a few weeks ago, from Seattle to Bend, Oregon.  The drive should be around seven hours, but knowing that I could not manage to be in the car for so long, we planned to stop overnight in Portland.  Thus the trip was divided into a three hour drive one day, a five hour drive the next. 

It did not help much at all.  I actually threw up from the pain and have had a much worse back since returning.  A long car ride is something from which I must recover.  Conversely, long, hard exercise is a temporary cure to pain, something I am treated to after a difficult day of sitting.

ETS Rant

Well, I'm sure I've mentioned it, but I'm applying for PhD programs this Fall, and there's a lot of work to be done.  One of the big hurdles is the GRE.  I've taken it before and within the past five years, so I don't actually have to take it again, but it might hurt my chances of getting into some schools if I don't.

The trouble is, I've filled out quite a bit of paperwork to get disability accommodations, which included a section for the disability specialist at my school to fill out, and a request for letters from doctors explaining the current state of my disability.

It was a lot of work.  My nice mom called to get the details on what exactly I needed to have filled out, and I tried to be gentle with what I requested, to make it easier for everyone.  The test is about 4 hours long, and there's a 10 minute break at one point.  The big pain thing for me is sitting for too long, and I remember how terrible it was last time, so I just asked for two additional ten minute breaks (one for each hour).

Well, I got a mean email from ETS (group that does GRE) after calling to tell them I hadn't received anything after sending in my paperwork weeks ago, and the letter tells me I must turn in additional materials.  It'll be a lot of extra work, and I'm none too pleased about them not being clearer on what they needed in the first place.

I actually had to go to the bathroom to cry at work, because I couldn't hold it together.  It is just so frustrating-- they actually want me to write a paper saying what exactly my issue is. 

Anyway, I'll know soon whether I really need to take it again or not-- checked with my advisor, and he's checking with others.  In any case, I am so irritated, particularly in light of the man I spoke with on the phone being rude. 

Honestly though, taking the GRE was one of the worst experiences of my life.  It was so hard on my back and neck, so terribly stressful, time consuming, needing lots of study, etc.  This extra paperwork makes it so much worse, plus the rudeness, the lack of response in a timely manner, and this continued suggestion that I'm just trying to cheat. 

Ugh, I already know the damn test is sexist, classist, and racist, but now I have to face it's ableism as well.  I just want to do a mean ass case study on the ETS as the epitome of apathy toward people with disabilities.  I probably will at some point.  Because I hate really hate the GRE, have for a while, but now I hate ETS as well.  As if I didn't have it hard enough already.  Sending waves of bad thoughts-- hope the whole test is done away with (but that all employees find other, more fulfilling positions elsewhere). 

So angry- gah!  Anyway, I'm going to bed.  Or at least going to try, as the pain has been keeping me up/making me wake up lately.  Ugh.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hitting a High

In a bad way.  I just realized the title could be taken to be something happy, which it certainly isn't.  Alas.

So, the terrible thing is that riding in cars, particularly when I am not the driver, is the worst thing for my pain.  We knew this, going on vacation to Bend, Oregon, so we stopped in Portland going and coming for a day.  The trouble is, even broken up, the three plus five hours in the car over the course of two days is a bit like riding one of those bucking bull things at the pub.  My neck wrenched back and forth and I literally threw up.

Now that I'm back, it seems not to be getting any better.  I had PT but that didn't help (I'm not entirely sure it didn't make it worse either).  I took my one of my "just for emergencies" pills, and it made me crazy woozy, but didn't help the pain at all.  I went to the gym, and the pain went away so long as I was killing myself working out, but it came back immediately after I stopped.

Have PT again tomorrow (twice a week- ugh).  I guess the best thing would be to try to schedule another trigger point session with my doctor.  But then there's the driving.  And the bus is even worse.  I feel bad for not being green, but I honestly can't take riding the bus anymore.  The constant stop and go kills me.

Guess I'll just suck it up and go to the doctor again.  Maybe go in for another massage, but damn that hurts worse than the injections. 

Enough of the whining.  Good night.