Pain & Pain

The topic for today is pain and pain, pain that causes weeping and pain that comes with weeping, and how difficult it is to tell the difference between the two. Close readers may recall that after my first Taxol infusion, I had joint and bone pain that made me cry three days later. So I sat around and watched DVDs and TV for two days. This time around, I came armed with a corticosteroid to stave off the pain. Nurse L told me it could cause anxiety, so take it morning and mid-afternoon, not evening. And then on the third day afer the second Taxol, I was anxious, terribly anxious, because of the drug, because I was writing a book review and I'm not wired to write book reviews, they make me anxious, they tax a part of the brain I don't have. And the fourth day, I was in some joint pain, not too much, but felt like crying. I was anxious and depressed. Desperately depressed. I went to yoga and felt like crying and only sorted it out later that it wasn't because of pain or tiredness but because of depression. Soul-corroding depression. The kind of depression where the world seems like a vast desert and there's nothing to connect to, to hold onto, that every human in the universe is just a little desperate bucket of misery just going after distraction. And you can carry on a conversation in the midst of this depression, but the conversation is going on a parallel, pretend-world, what's real is the feeling underneath you can't shake, that nothing matters. And you can't stand it.

And then I would feel sadder and sadder, thinking that this is how I felt in my 20s and 30s, and I'd wonder how many other people are feeling this, all the time, and times when I've enjoyed myself, for example, when I taught a class in the fall that was really fun, were there people in it who were desperate? I went through motions, we went to dinner, to a movie, we rode our bikes home, I wrote about this depression, and then in bed I cried and cried and told L all this, and he listened and it wasn't much better but we went to sleep.

And in the morning I was OK. I didn't feel the doubleness. I didn't take the last corticosteroid. I felt a little shaky Saturday but "myself." I could laugh. I could connect with the world. My joints hurt a little, and I took a little acetaminophen. I made myself keep away from the review-in-progress or -in-destruction. I didn't want to read so I picked up Persepolis, the graphic memoir by Marjane Satrapi, to read between meeting with my friend P for lunch and running errands. (Yeah, it's reading, but also has pictures.) I watched some TV, finding myself for the second time this summer watching some show with Dick Van Dyke as a doctor. We rode bikes to dinner with M. We talked about periods of depression. He was impressed that mine went away in a day. But it was still so horrible.

The Taxol caused the weeping. The corticosteroid caused the depression. Next time I'll get help for treating the emotion. I think that's much worse than the pain. But the pain is pain.