Pain As A Sort Of Reminder

Warning: possibly gross shit in this piece. But not gratuitous -- medical in nature, if it must be categorized. Anyway, reader discretion advised.

I think of them as contractions, although they're obviously not, and I'm most likely insulting the opposite sex for even connoting it as that word.  Still, the periodicity and the escalating frequency and pain warrants the analogy in my head. I suppose what they really are are stomach cramps. Belly aches that are a precursor to diarrhea. But I wonder -- does it hurt this much to everyone else? This morning, it snuck up on me while I was in the subway. A twinge. By the time I was walking towards the coffee truck, the "contractions" started with earnest. I briefly considered bailing on my caffeine fix and heading straight towards the office lavatory instead.

Sometimes I think I ought to categorize the severity of these stomach cramps like one would a tornado or a hurricane. They are by far the worst pain I experience on a semi-regular basis. The worst ones (category fives?) literally have me crying and thinking that death might be preferable. Today was one of the bad ones. Sitting on the toilet, the contractions ceased being discreet events and began to roll over me like waves in a storm. Sweat began to pour. I had trouble breathing. My eyes were clenched shut and my vision swam in honeycombs. Literally nothing else mattered besides the desire to end this pain. I wanted to pass out -- i.e. if there was a way for me to flip a neurological switch and relinquish consciousness on demand, I would have hit it. Right around this time is when the thought, "Just kill me now," did not seem ridiculous. Very few other thoughts got past the howling waves of pain. My shirt became drenched with sweat, so I yanked it off over my head, desperate to cool down. I collapsed onto the bathroom floor and pressed my face against the cold stone tiles, not even for one millisecond considering the fact that dirty shoes may have tracked across that very same floor. I laid there, pants around my ankles, sweating and breathing hard, praying to pass out.

Mercifully, that has always been the apex of the worst. Soon after, my colon takes over and... disgorges. I make it back onto the toilet in time. (This is probably where the contraction analogy breaks down, as these episodes last, maybe at most, one hour from twinge to disgorgement.) The thumping in my temples slow, and I rise above my lizard functions. My body cools down. Disgusting things spill out of my nether regions and into the toilet, and I am grateful for every ounce of the purge.

After today's episode, I resolved to capture as much of that experience as possible. It corroborates what Christopher Hitchens once said: I don't have a body, I am a body. My very lifeforce, that which is so universally mysticized and deemed priceless and possibly eternal, etc., feeling instead like a fleeting coincidence as pain, with one broad backhand, slapped a sense of reality into me. We hurt. We die. I am a body, a body getting older, increasingly worn. But it's like a miracle to even be aware and conscious of it all.

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