This month I’m filling in for my friend Allison Pang for her regular weekly spot on Word Whores because she’s recovering from surgery she’s hoping will correct her chronic pain issues. Having watched my late husband battle with chronic pain, I do not envy anyone in this position. Yet somehow she’s managed to write a terrific Urban Fantasy series while raising two kids, in addition to holding down a day job.
Ironically, while filling in for her, I’ve somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my neck, resulting in some intense pain that travels a lovely nerve down my arm to my fingers. The first night I was treated to this delight, I woke up the middle of the night unable to move in any direction without excruciating pain. I ended up rolling onto my head and sleeping almost upside down. Yesterday I managed to get some relief with hot baths, a heating pad, and lot of aspirin. But today I woke up with numb fingers.
Luckily I have health care through the day job, so they’ve confirmed my diagnosis of a pinched nerve and prescribed a whole slew of fun medications. One of my many quirks (that I like to think contribute to my creativity as a writer) is that I have medication phobia. (To be fair, I’ve gone into anaphylactic shock before from taking a new med, so it’s entirely reasonable from my way of thinking.) So now I’m staring at a nightstand full of bottles that will probably make me feel much better and thinking about all the work I have to get done—a galley proof for the first book in my new series with Samhain, Demons of Elysium, is due to my editor tomorrow, and I’m supposed to be well into the third book in the series, but have done nothing but write three pages and then delete three pages repeatedly for the past week because my smexy demons won’t stop having smexy sex, and I'm moderating three panels next week for Coyote Con—and wondering whether it’s worth conquering my fear of taking a new medication to get some relief when it’s likely to knock me out and leave me completely incapable of getting my work done. Particularly when the day job will rear its ugly head in the morning.
My default response seems to be: write through the pain. As Westley (as the Dread Pirate Roberts) says to Buttercup in the The Princess Bride, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
But I have to say, I have renewed admiration for my friend Allison. Because pain sucks. And I’m grateful that mine is very likely a transitory condition. The only way I’ve ever been able to get through anything unpleasant (like the 26 hours of back labor I had when I gave birth to my son via natural childbirth) is knowing that nothing lasts forever. This is also one of the reasons I write books. Because the good things are transitory, too, so I like to make sure I always have more of them in the offing. And books are right at the top of my definition of Very Good Things. Pain, on the other hand, tops that other list, of Very Bad Things. It sucks. And it can suck it.