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I can't let myself live

By , Austin, TX
I run my fingers over my spinal column. I cringe with the memories it brings. I can still feel the faintest pain when I think of the faded pink scar that runs down my back.
I close my eyes and let tears fall freely from my eyes. I need to cry. I'm not capable of holding it in.
I feel like the Bride of Frankenstein. Using stitches to hide my "deformities". I feel like a science experiment. No one ever asked my if I wanted it. No one ever asked me if I could handle it.
Four spine surgeries.
I've heard thousands of stories of incredible patients. People going through things worse than I. People who go through cancer with a smile on their face. But I can't smile when I feel this incredible pain. I'm not strong enough.
Some people tell me I'm brave. Brave for going through surgery. Brave. I don't feel brave. If if had been up to me, I would have never gone through surgery. I didn't want to. I'm not brave. I'm a coward, and I know it. I'm a coward who can't handle the pain.
Every time I think of surgery, I lose my sense of control. I didn't get to decide anything. It was always "doctor's orders". Always my parents and the doctors making the decisions. Never did they think I would have an opinion that differed from theirs.
The first nights are always the worst. They can't give me anything to eat except crackers, jello, and Popsicles, because of the anesthesia. I feel sick when I eat, and weak when I don't.
I usually get a fever in the first few days. Then I need the nurses to cover every square inch of my body with ice.
I'd try to sleep and deal with it the next day, but I would never be able to stay asleep for more than fifteen minutes. Then I get even weaker from sleep deprivation.
My muscles are stiff like wooden planks. I have to lie flat on my back for a week, or I might die.
But the worst is the pain. I can't fight the pain. To fight it would be like fighting myself. It's inside me. Like some sort of incurable infectious disease.
I pretend to be strong. Every time I see my doctor again, I've had to have another surgery.
I used to play soccer. I used to be a ballerina. Now I limp.
I'm not afraid of spiders. Closets, open spaces, heights.
I'm afraid of pain.
Next month I see my neurologist again. And I honestly don't think I can let myself live through any more pain.





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