when the Pain sneaks out.

I got my blood drawn last week. It’s the proudest I have been of myself in a long time. No drugs and no one but the nurse next to me to talk me through it. Just me-frazzled and disheveled, walking into an itty bitty clinic in Key Largo, welcomed with a smack in the face of two-thousand tons of panic.

Sometimes, pain sneaks out of us as unexpectedly and freely as joy does. Sitting in the middle of a meeting, the way someone says something suddenly reminds you of that time you asked your nieces to be your bridesmaids, and you’re left fighting a swelling heart; hiding an unprofessionally beaming face behind your laptop screen. The sight of a passing toddler tugging at his mama’s dress hem with such strength and excitement it nearly knocks her over as they topple to the beach fills you with such pure joy you’re laughing out loud before even realizing it. I’ve realized: pain does this to us, too.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, Luke and I were decorating our little 4 foot tree in our little 786 square foot island home. Luke walked out of the room for a quick moment to grab another box of ornaments. My favorite bulb started to roll off the low coffee table. It crashed right in front of me. Luke came out and I was already in tears-to both of our surprise. Pre-tumor, pre-surgery, pre-spinal fusion, I would have very easily been able to quickly squat down and catch the falling bulb before it burst into a million pieces. Watching it happen and knowing all of this, I was struck with instant pain. Crying for a good 10 minutes, the tears spilling out of me freely and uncontrolled, I thought about this. It was like something giving me the giggles out of the blue; only the dark opposite.

Around this same time, my tumor took the reigns, as it often tries its hardest to do, and forced me to swallow my pride and take a sick day. Not one that has mastered the art of stillness, I FaceTimed into each meeting and responded to all needed emails all throughout the day to ensure Hamilton wasn’t going to burden anyone else but me. The next day, when I returned to work, someone who is unaware of the tumor said to me, extremely condescendingly, “You certainly don’t look sick. Hope you had a good “sick day”.” Rolling their eyes, they walked out of my office. And just like that, pain snuck out of me; capturing everything like a jubilant belly laugh on the big drop of Splash Mountain.

I was never one to fear needles. I always made fun of my Luke for being so fearful of them. When I was in the hospital, all of that changed. My sister believes my body was clamping down in trauma and distress, causing my “good veins” to shut off their open flow. In the fuzziness of unexplainable pain and so much pain medication I still ponder how my body accepted, there are two instances that stick out as clear as the Key’s shallows. Ever since then, every scan needing CT contrast fluid injections and every blood draw I have needed, I’ve been given anxiety medication to get through it. I will spare the details…maybe for another day. Let’s just leave it at this: for now, needles and I are no longer friends. For now. I’m determined to get over it. I will get over it.

I was shaky all day leading up to the appointment. Flashbacks of the hospital moments kept intruding on my thoughts at work. When I walked into the clinic, greeted by the surgical white colors and fluorescent lighting of any medical building, panic gripped my chest and nearly took me down. I registered with the nurse, talking entirely too much in an attempt to distract myself (poor lady…I should send her a bottle of wine and a hug after listening to my ramblings. Looooordy.). In 5 minutes, I planned how I was going to excuse myself and reschedule the appointment a full 78 times. I sat down after finishing my registration. Crossing my legs. Uncrossing my legs. Breathing in. Breathing out. Shifting. Shuffling. Crossing my legs. Help me Jesus. Help me Jesus. Help me Jesus.

“Kelsey Pfleiderer? We are ready for ya.”

Hi. I’m so sorry. I’m sick and I was sicker a little while back and I’m having a hard time thinking about that needle in that drawer. I may cry. Please don’t mind it. How was your day and what’s your favorite color????”

I think the nurse planned her escape a full 78 times in that 5 minutes. To do: send 2 bottles of wine and 2 hugs to the Key Largo Urgent Care. Bless them, Lord. 🤦🏻‍♀️

I think it’s important to address and be OK with the moments when the pain sneaks out. Just like the times we address the moments the joy sneaks out. Tuesday night, I cried tears of joy during the opening credits of the new David Tutera wedding show. The opening. credits. y’all. Luke and I will laugh about that one for a while. Just like we find a way to laugh about and talk through the sneaky pain moments. The sneaky pain moments and the sneaky joy moments are exactly the same: always best when shared; judgement and shame free.

I wish you a weekend ahead of sneaky joy moments. And if you find yourself with a weekend of sneaky pain moments instead? I wish you the blessing of someone next to you to share it with; judgment and shame free.

Big Hugs. Always.

KP.

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