It lurked around the corner. Stealth. Ready to pounce. Not all at once. No, slow and steady fit the bill.
She went about her day in a merry way, thinking the way was clear. The threat had passed. The day was warm. She was content. A certain confidence dared enter her thoughts. It was over. She was unscathed. How foolish to not have known the pain’s achilles tendon before.
It waited in the shadows. Darkness cloaked its intent. A night strike would disarm her. Slow and steady fit the bill.
A pleasant dinner with family. She had an appetite. She breathed in and out as though the chemicals would escape her life and limbs carried over her lips.
It stabbed. Too much weight? Was the plate too heavy? She gasped, paused, and breathed. Perhaps it was nothing. Besides, her daughter was watching. Yes, it was nothing. She stood to continue.
It lurked in her bones. It waited until she was vulnerable. It would take her breath away with each spasm. Not all at once – slow and steady wins the race.
She knew better. This was it. She was no hero and no intention of being one. An anti-inflammatory would be necessary – and quick. She lay on the couch to rest her body. Her bones protested. “Don’t you damned well move us,” they seemed to chastise her. She had become her own enemy. Her heart beat against her swollen ribs. It was a double beat to be sure. Boom, boom! Boom, boom! All too clearly, she knew … “it” was waking up.
It was difficult to breathe. Each breath ached. Any movement was like a vice-grip on her life. Yes – the pressure was intense. “Don’t move”, she convinced herself. “You are going to be okay.” Her husband moved closer. The heat of his hands on her legs seemed to sooth the grip.
“Maybe a bath would help, Stacey?” he suggested. And so off she went.
The blood pumped against her chest and her breath escaped in response. It was no longer lurking. It was laughing. It laughed as she cried.
The heat seemed to sooth. Snap! Her bones burst in pain. “Don’t move!” I can’t! Another burst, followed by another. Gone. A reprieve. She needed medicine. She hurried through the motions to get to her room. Snap! Gasp. It stunned her. Tears rolled down her cheeks with humiliating incontinence. Hurry! Hurry! Take the pill! Boom! Her back seized. Her breathing became like shards of glass against her chest. Bang! It was no longer lurking – it was alive and well. The battle had begun. She had met this pain once before…. they were not friends. Not by any stretch of the imagination. She summoned her courage. This was round two – a battle she would not forget – fought in the dark of night.