… or is it possible to drown in your own tears?

Any of us, who have lived with chronic pain, whether it is a new guest or an old one, know what it is to cry. Leakage is often uncontrollable, at least from the eyes. I think I’ll leave the other forms of leakage for another time, just so I don’t gross you out; although I really don’t mind doing that on occasion. This whole medical world can be almost as fierce as a Halloween movie and a lot more frightening. The movies are just that, celluloid, tape, discs, at least I think it used to be celluloid, now I’m sure it’s all computerized, but you and I are not. We are just flesh of all degrees of deterioration and we have built in alarms. We can only take so much and when that limit is exceeded by its depth or its duration, BONG!


Have you ever noticed how differently we each cry? Some weep loudly wailing, others softly and quietly while a few of us seem to have run dry long ago. Crying is a strange phenomenon in so many ways. We cry when we’re happy, sad, in pain or hurt for a million reasons. We cry when our hearts spill over with grief or we can also shed that salty moisture when we laugh uncontrollably and we’re lucky if tears are all that leaks when laughing that hard. I have been known to get the giggles when I’m exhausted. So often my daughter and I can get into fits of giggling when fatigued and faced with an overwhelmingly silly situation. It feels so good to laugh like that. It’s as relief-giving as crying and probably just as cathartic.


Some cultures throughout history have considered paid weepers as part of funerals while other cultures have a party and drink -fest when they are grieving due to the death of a loved one.


Personally, I like crying and consider it very healthy. I don’t do it as often as I once did. I think I’m just tired of it after twenty-five- years of pain but there are times when the dam bursts. As most of you know, we have had a summer around the Wood household that has included construction, destruction, fire, stripping…of the painting variety, road construction, electrical shocks and flooding. In the midst of all this “joy” I had a compression fracture in the middle of my back which compiled my list to about 16items on my daily list of physical complaints, while “training” a new pup. Yesterday I saw and was seen by my rheumatologist who is 80 miles from where I live which makes for a less than desirable amount of sitting on my derriere which constantly hurts. It’s a long trip there and home again.


We decided our new pup was too small and insecure to be left alone all day in his kennel so we took him with us. Guess what? Dear little guy suffers from motion sickness and vomited on me on the way in to the appointment. My husband drove in his usual breakneck speed so my painful cervical spine was acting up by the time we arrived thus a headache to go with the odor of vomit. I found one towel in the car and had a bottle of seltzer. You’ve heard of a spit bath? Well, this was more of a spritz bath. Needless to say, it was quite a trip, and that was just the first part. You can bet we bought Dramamine for the little guy for the trip home. If you remember, last week I told you my daughter and granddaughter suffer from motion sickness as do I. I also confided my son calls his sister Barfy and now her little daughter is called Barfy, Jr. Yesterday she told me in her best seven-year-old manner, “Well, Georgie fits right into this family. I think we’ll have to call him Barfy Barky.” Well, it’s a thought.


I was my rheumatologist’s last appointment of the day and I had a lot to tell her. She graciously spent an hour with me as I caught her up to speed on all the stressors of my summer.We discussed the many approaches to osteoporosis furthered along by my rare disease, relapsing polychondritis. It’s a rather disturbing picture for me after already going through 25 years of destruction to realize I undoubtedly have more trouble heading down the plank right at me and after my summer, I guess it was just enough to tip the scales. I started to cry and I surprised myself. The doctor was very understanding and said, “Goodness, after everything you’ve been through, don’t worry about it,” as she handed me a box of tissues.


I actually am convinced that we are all human pressure cookers and when the pressure builds up, the grief and loss tips the scales and our hearts can’t hold anymore, we pop. I definitely heard a BONG!


Living with pain everyday can wear you down like a log that is having its heart carved out. Yes, we end up a finely fashioned canoe but all of that hollowing out hurts. Life carves us up, spits us out, chews us to the core then steps back to see what we’ve turned into. I love intricately woven rugs and tapestries. When you look at them reversed or from the back side, they are strangely confusing and ugly. When you turn them over to view the plan, the work and the artistry involved, they are remarkable to behold.


Perhaps we are being woven into something beautiful, even if it does feel like crap at the time of the weaving  or carving. We often need to give ourselves permission to cry, to wail and to rebel. I find I often cry when I’m angry. It comes out as tears when I probably should be ripping into some fellow human being, but I am far too civilized to rip. Guess I’ll have to work on that. Guess I’ll add it to the list of all the other things I need to do every day. No, scratch that. I think I rip into others quite well enough already. I think it’s often just pure rage that pours out of my eyes. Rage at the pain that is every present. Rage at life for cheating me and rage at this wretched disease. I think it’s okay to feel that way. Crying is so much more civilized than going berserk, isn’t it?


Tears can also be a remarkable blessing. I often think they are a spillover lubricant for our feelings, emotions and yes, joys. We cry at weddings, happy endings and blessed events. We cry over Hallmark cards and friendships, beautiful landscapes as well as a thousand other amazing surprises life brings our way.


Are we overly emotional because we deal with daily pain? Probably. Do we feel more deeply because of our suffering? I think so. Does our loss make the surplus of life more precious? Definitely. So what are we crying about? It’s a lot of work to balance those scales but we must continue to try or we are without hope and the days of our lives are lost, flooded away by the pain. There is a time to cry and a time to “dry it up.” There is a time to face the possibilities that lay ahead of us and a time to kick, scream “OUCH!” and do the chore that lies before us. One day, one action, one minute of hope can give us courage.