I was sitting in the choir loft, the pain sneaking up on me, insidiously wending its way into the eyelids, making reading impossible, unless I want to increase the pain.
I doubt anyone notices, except for maybe the people sitting next to me, that I do not participate when there is a responsive reading. It doea not happen often - but when it does I start to feel suspect for not saying the words.
I learn the one line we sing, watching the choir director's face, waiting for his look down at the keyboard for my notice we have to sing. Even though it makes no difference to the pain, much of the rest of the service requires little of me, the hymn in the middle and the end a problem, but absent that I can work on not moving my eyes, on not exacerbating the pain.
It started me thinking, as everyone else spoke the words and I had time to reflect, about the difference of having the pain and something more obvious.
After one surgery I had to relearn to walk. I was not paralyzed but my legs went all akimbo like a newborn colt.
I was embarrassed that I could not walk, but there was no question about my doing anything that required using my legs. It was a done deal that I could not. My mortification was about my inability to control a part of my body.
The pain is different. I knew I would quickly get back my walking legs. Knowing there was an endpoint, even without knowing how long that would take, definitely made a difference. The cause of the impairment was something easy(ish) to explain. The visibility of what was wrong with me required no justification.
Pain only allows secretiveness for a short while. It is hard work, hiding the pain, hiding the inability, waiting for the endzone that may never appear.
I sit in my seat waiting for us, the choir, to rise and sing. I furtively take half a codeine a short while before, finding the first one I took on my way to church, a half an hour before, did not 'take'.
Sitting back down after the song, I soon notice my one foot becomes jumpy as the pain increases. My hand makes its way up inside my sleeve, squeezing an area of skin, trying to distract from the eye pain. It does not work. I become aware of all three. I feel 'outed' by them, but I am sure no one sees, or saw.
What do I do about it? What do we do about it?
Do we keep it quiet and fight to maintain a presence of normality? Or do we say it, "I am in pain." and hope we are heard for the kind of pain we are in.