Just a Little More…

My aggressive alarm rings through my room, the only thing loud and abrasive enough able to pierce through my deep, peaceful slumber. I roll over and groan, my stiff body aches. I press snooze and fall back into the abyss of painless rest. My alarm goes off again. I sigh and twist around, attempting to stretch my stiff, crumbling body. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and slide down my high dorm bed to the ground. Immediately, the blood rushes to my head. I’m dizzy and the floor looks like it’s moving. My feet, deprived of circulation from lying down, prickle and crack as I walk. I walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take my medications, gripping the walls the whole way. I open the door, and my vision turns spotty and black in the bright morning sunlight. I brace myself on the sink as my body sways backwards. Just a little more… 

This is what my life with chronic pain is like. The mornings are the hardest. It’s only been this bad for a little while, starting the winter I was a freshman in high school. I’ve had fibromyalgia my whole life, and I vividly remember the pains in my legs when I was little, crying as my mother tried to help me, unable to stay standing. The pain is different now, but it is by no means gone. I still struggle every day. Just a little more… 

I make my way back to my room, stumbling over the shoes I left in the middle of my floor because I was too tired last night to put them away. I throw on something comfortable that isn’t going to bother my nerves. I sling my backpack over my shoulder and shove my feet into my Crocs. I sigh before I open the door and plop myself down the stairs to walk to class. Just a little more… 

I get to class. My best friend says, “Consciousness is a crime.” I can only reply with a groan. “Good morning, Phoebe, how are you?” my professor asks. “Good, how are you?” I 

respond, like I do every day. That’s the expected response, nobody really wants to know, it’s just what you say. That’s what chronic illness is: saying you’re fine when you’re not, looking happy when you’re in pain, and trying not to be a burden to the people around you. 

My accommodations require me to get a letter every single time I use them, but I can’t get a note for my migraines that happen 4-6 days a week every time, and my pain that is constant but flares on certain days. Getting the accommodations I need is hard sometimes, nobody understands how my life really is. I slump up the hill and go to my next class. I struggle through the day, the fatigue, the pain. My day usually consists of a combination of aches and pains, migraines, dizziness, and fatigue. I watch the clock, counting the minutes until I get to go back to my dorm and eat. Just a little more… 

Class is finally over, and I push myself up out of my seat. I say thank you to the professor as I walk out the door, dropping myself down each step and pushing the door open to the outside world. I walk back to my dorm, throw something left over into my microwave, shove it in my face, and flop into bed. I dissociate for a while, recovering from my day. Then I roll over and pull out my laptop to study. I have so much work to do and I have a migraine and my joints ache. I try to do one thing at a time. After a while, I get another snack and change for dance. 3 hours tonight. I dread it. Just a little more… 

By the third hour, I’m dizzy, messing up the steps because of the brain fog that kicked in, and I feel like I’m going to pass out. But I keep going. Finally, I make it to the end. But it’s not over yet. Now I have to walk back to my room, up three flights of stairs and all the way up the hill back to Dom. My lungs struggle with the cold air and my calves burn from walking too fast. I cross the road to my dorm. Just a little more… 

But this isn’t all for nothing. I wouldn’t be who I am without the experiences I have gone through. It made me who I am. I love school and learning, which is convenient because I have a lot of it ahead of me since I want to go get my PhD. In college, I found a passion for research and learning more about one of the most important parts of the body. My pain has driven my ambition, giving me a clear idea of what my passion is, allowing me a goal to work towards when things get hard. I want to use my experience to drive future research. I want to use the compassion I’ve gained to help others. The pain I’ve had to deal with has allowed for a deeper empathy and compassion, guiding me to a future career of research, and a quest for answers to help people.

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