I transferred my prescription to a new pharmacy today. When I was asked about existing conditions, I said, “CRPS – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – and fibromyalgia.” My tone, I realized, was firm and proud.
At first, that freaked me out. Proud? To have CRPS? Just how far have I come to identify myself with this disease?
It bothered me, but not as much as it should have. I put it on a back burner to mull for a bit.
I did some paperwork and watched a movie: Mulan, and I don’t think that’s irrelevant.
I realized that it’s not having CRPS and fibromyalgia that I’m proud of. It’s having CRPS and fibromyalgia, and still being alive – still hugely engaged – still moving to a new place, still sorting out my paperwork, still finding a new adventure, and still organizing that adventure even as it unfolds.
I identify with whatever it took to develop the nerve, courage, and modicum of grace that got me this far. I identify with what it took to discover those who kept me alive, and made that life worth living. I identify with having gotten to the point where the things that I think about, much of the time, have nothing to do with pain, frailty, and other losses. I have this ridiculously awful disease, but that’s not where my life is.
I have CRPS, but the verb “to have” has a number of meanings: to possess, to be in relationship to, to be required, to have a duty or need, and so on. If you’ve ever done any translation, you know what a headache the verb “to have” can be.
In this case, it might just mean that I own the disease, in the way that hackers mean when they spell “own” with a P: pwn. To pwn something (a device, troublesome software, the CIA mainframe) is to figure out how to dominate it, because you know exactly how to make it play ball — whether that’s legal, approved, or otherwise.
As it happens, that’s pretty much what I intend to do with CRPS.
I’m okay with being proud about that.