A Pain Pill, a Caress, an Exhalation of Relief

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*Trigger Warning: Nothing too serious, but a tad of a gloomy theme this June.


So I’m saying it again, repeating it like a fucking broken record. Where did the year go to? It’s officially hit the halfway mark and I’ve officially got nothing done. It’s so fucking frustrating. No progression in any direction. I got my new work website set up nice and sweet, then in one fell swoop, I developed mysterious pain symptoms the very next day. How lucky can one get? It’s been two weeks, which included a hospital admission, and I have yet to get back on my feet.

Setting work aside, which I desperately need and is the next priority after my health, my days have melded into an abstract, and have become a rinse-repeat procedure of bed, computer, some reading and poor sleep. I have vivid, horrible dreams every night, and wake feeling drugged up. Of late, I haven’t even had the energy or felt well enough to step out of the house. I tried and didn’t get very far. After only limping for 200 metres we had to turn back and head home, where I collapsed in bed for the rest of the day. The unforgiving heat and humidity combination of Singapore added a sting to it.


This has left me wondering where life goes from here. I try to tell myself ‘momma says take it one day at a time, that’s all we can really do, especially for me’, but I feel like I’m lying to myself for some reason. As if my mother said it really just to comfort me. Like hugging and soothing a child, shielding her from a bitter reality.

I know that the world is still a wondrous place, despite all the grief and suffering that exists in all living facets of it. Not once have I doubted this. Nature is too grand, too awe-striking, and larger than all my problems combined. It is a living ancestor to whom I bow my head, both out of reverence, and out of shame for my disrespect towards it.

I also wonder about many other things, some out of a child-like curiosity, but more with an adult’s guilt-ridden self-questioning that descends into an unhealthy, manic worrying. I am hurling rocks into an ocean that is able to swallow every single one of them; the almost inaudible ‘plop’ dies in silence. I am carrying so many rocks, many of which I have dug out with my own hands. The others seem to have rained down from the sky into my basket, unpredictable as ever, from god knows where.

I also wonder, how do others do this? How do they deal with worse than what I have? How do you do it? It makes me feel ashamed for being less strong than I was 10 years ago. So I pick more rocks up and put them in my basket as punishment.


I turned 33 in April. It felt like a turning point for me. Not 30, not 35, somehow 33. Is it the double digits? With the brain fog I do admit that it’s been easier to recall my age. I kept having to do double takes when I was 32. Nothing major has happened. It wasn’t like my year long race for heart surgery at 25. Nor my near-death catastrophic blood clotting episode at 17. Yet the problem is that nothing has been happening for a while now, as well.

I have come to appreciate long, drawn out periods of boredom and downtime, simply because these periods aren’t filled with ‘crisis level, nothing helps’ type of pain. But somehow I’m now wishing for an ‘either or’ situation. Either pain pushes me over the edge, and not taunt me with these ‘less-than-my-worse’ episodes. Or it goes away so that I can be on my way with my head held high, filling myself up with love and inspiration and life.

Where is 33 on the map of my lifetime? I’m done with and desiring simultaneously.


I know what I have to do. You don’t have to tell me again. I’m sick of being told again. I don’t need to hear words of sympathy, empathy, clichés, or even lightbulb moment insights. Of course I’m going to pick myself back up again once this bad luck dies down, whenever that may be. What else does one do?

It’s become a practice. A spoonie’s way of life. And for me, a bit of a zombie on cruise control. Maybe it’s just all the medications, brain fog, pain and moody piano music in the background talking right now. Written words that might embarrass me when I do finally meet a friend or acquaintance who’s read them in real life. But I don’t really care. I think it’s important to etch them down regardless; I can’t be the only one who feels – the irony – like a zombie out there.

Get up and carry on. Get up and carry on. I’m not sure what your mantra in life is, or what brings you hope and inspiration. But for me, to know that my one duty in life is to ‘get up and carry on’ helps me to tide through a great deal. It applies to any and all situations. Call it a bit dry, dull or soulless if you want, but I’m alive, am I not? And as long as you’re alive, your soul is somewhere in there, sleeping or hiding maybe, but it definitely hasn’t disappeared. In that sense, there is a blood-stained drop of hope. And perhaps the greatest things that one can hope for in life, are actually the most bloodied of them all.


I am filled with desire. A taste for pleasure. A plead for pardon. A pain pill, a caress, an exhalation of relief. Pleasure is prayer. Prayers are filled with well wishes, good intentions and more often than you’d imagine, begging. I’ve been there myself, on cold marble with bruised knees, pleading for a second chance at life. Silly girl, you should have begged for quick mercy.

I had a period of brief respite after my dengue episode in April where I actually felt good. Hearty and hale, nothing like I’d felt in ages. Life (or was it death?) winked at me, and reminded me what it’s like to own a body loaded with energy, ready to fire. It teased me and we got drunk on cheap wine, which re-opened up the pathways in the brain that inspire immortality. It’s been only a month since then so I can still kind of remember the feeling, but as you very well know, it’s just all a matter of time.

As I’m recovering from the hangover, I think to myself, maybe I’ll see him again one day. And the irony of this recovery is that it isn’t a leaving of pain, but a returning to it. Dear life, you’re quite the playboy, aren’t you? I am but a woman held bondage through your absence. Your return is always far apart and your stay swift, but you always bring the brightest flowers, and your scent is nothing of this world. My desire has left me numb, with every departure that you take.

And so as time goes my, I transfer your transgressions upon my own shoulders. I confess my part to play, a stupidity borne out of simultaneous innocence and greed. You knew me before I was in my mother’s womb, my genes a puzzle you pieced together with your own hands. I had no say in the building of my body, but I bear the consequences regardless. Life is unfair – that’s you, alright. Whatever it is come release me again soon. You have broken into me, but I am yet unbroken.

P.s. This quote popped into my inbox today and I thought it appropriate to add in:

“To have finally dealt with suffering is to consume it into yourself.
Which means you have to, with eyes open,
be able to keep your heart open in hell.
You have to look at what is, and say ‘Yeah, Right.’
And what it involves is bearing the unbearable.
And in a way, who you *think* you are can’t do it.
Who you *really* are, can do it.
So that who you think you are has to die in the process.”
– Ram Dass

Thank you for reading, and I hope to read your responses for June’s prompts too. CLICK HERE to submit your own entry, and to read about what others are up to as well!

*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.

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  • Sheryl, I can relate to your frustrations, my life has been on a similar path recently. I hope you get a bit of respite soon. I love reading your posts, so beautifully written. Take care.

    • Hi Jo, thanks for the understanding and kind words 🙂 Yes, I’m so frustrated, and today is especially depressing. In any case, I’m sure both you and I will survive it. Sending lots and lots of hugs.

  • Hello once again Sheryl

    I loved your post for this month; it was beautifully and eloquently written. An articulate essay that wonderfully describes the thoughts and feelings of someone like yourself going through a time when illness is constantly throwing everything it has. I am so sorry of your continued suffering, how you manage to still write so brilliantly is a testament to your strength and resilience despite it. I hope you continue to get up and carry on – such a brilliant mantra.

    Take good care of yourself and look forward to seeing you next month


    • Thanks Rhiann. I find it easier to write when in pain, the irony. Yes I believe many others are feeling this way too, sadly. Thank you for your kind and supportive words. Sending hugs and see you on social media for sure! 😉

  • Sheryl, sorry you are in such a frustrating spot – feeling stymied and stuck is so exhausting in itself! Hoping you can keep climbing out and that your health evens out soon!

    I’m still working through my own healing, though I am improving – also pushing myself a bit this month, since it is Pride and I want to stand up for my bi identity too.

    I empathize with the fatigue and frustration, feeling like progress has been halted – I understand feeling low, but I’m hoping that things improve for you! Thinking of you and wishing you the best! *gentle hugs*

    • Hey Alison, yes feeling stuck can feel surprisingly exhausting! Thanks for your well wishes, and wishing you the best in your endeavours this month too x

  • I have gotten nothing done this year either. or all of last year. I feel like I am stuck in limbo while Waiting constantly for more appointments and tests to help me out with this new significant problem. And then things just get worse and I wonder what the hell, man? What did I do in a past life to deserve this? But we get through, somehow, and all our goals go to the wayside for a bit

    • Yea that’s exactly how I feel, too, and how I somehow get through it. My goals keep shifting as well. Perhaps the amount of ‘free’ time we have to think about them, plus the limits of illness, play a role. But that’s allowed I suppose. Sending good thoughts.

  • You elegantly put into words the feelings that arise when our health keeps throwing curve balls at us. Sending gentle hugs and love your way across the miles.

    • Thanks Kathy. Curve balls is the right word, alright. Super, mind bending, amazing curve balls that I could maybe appreciate if I were out of the picture ;p Sending hugs right back!

  • I’m so sorry to hear of your suffering Sheryl, you put it into words so perfectly, it reads like poetry. I know it must feel like time is passing you by but keep making the most of the good parts, no matter how small xx

    • Hi Anne,

      Thank you, pain helps to add some colour to words, I think :p Yes I know and thanks for the reminder…I definitely need to make the most out of the good parts, even the bad parts. Sending love x

  • Sheryl, Ah, I’m so sorry that you’re struggling. This time of year is hard. All times of year are hard. I empathise so much. Just earlier I was thinking “it’s already summer and I’ve done nothing, and planned nothing.” I agree with the others though, you write so beautifully about your struggles and it’s good to hear such honesty. We tell ourselves – “just roll with the punches” but when the punches are endless it’s completely exhausting.

    • Hi Jenny,

      That’s interesting that you had the exact same thought, just in a different phrasing. I guess that’s part of what these prompts aim to bring out 😉

      Thank you…I think I write my best work when in pain, ha! And definitely, rolling with the punches is so easy to say, but harder to do. To keep watching out for that hit, and constantly rolling out of the way can really wear you down. A short break in the corner would be nice! 😉

  • Hi Sheryl, I am so sorry to read of your sorrow this month. You have endured so much this last while. I can’t agree with Jordyn more, your words are poetry. They pull images through me that are so relatable. I am quite fortunate this month but am being fooled by mania that moving forward is going to be easy based on a day of clear headedness. I agree whole heartedly with you when you speak of feeling like a zombie, sometimes I feel like white noise itself and nothing more just numb and unable to fix attention of anything. I do hope you receive more respite soon. Sending love and gratitude that despite these months you still get back up and provide this space for all our fellow spoonies. Thank you and take care. xx

    • Hi Niamh,

      Thanks for the lovely thoughts and kind words. I actually don’t think I’ve endured all that much compared to so many others, and feel a bit guilty about that. Ha. And no worries…this space is beneficial to me, just as much as it is to others, I hope!

      Mania doesn’t sound fun one bit to me. I get slightly manic and have anxiety and am on meds for them, but nothing to the extremes. I hope you manage to hang in there and move on with balance! Sending lots of well wishes and love.

  • Wow Sheryl, your words are pure poetry! You write in a way that makes me feel everything that you are. That is amazing. On another note, I am sorry that you haven’t been doing well recently. I feel like this part of the year is hard for many chronic illness warriors, for one reason or another. I love your mantra, “Get up and carry on.” It is so true. I hope this month fairs better for you!

    • Hi Jordyn, thanks for the kind words 🙂 I haven’t felt inspired to write of late, and this is the latest piece that I’m actually happy with, despite it stemming from pain and frustration.

      I wish you well too, and sending hugs!

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