And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet.

SLIP | Dance by @PhillipChbeeb & @ReneeKester | Music by @ElliotMossMusic | Shot by Jerel Mascarinas

I left my name behind during my last trip and found new homes for more of my belongings since I have returned. My life grows smaller and smaller still. Fewer things, fewer people, less and less and less. It is exhausting to be alive and so isolated, to survive this hollow crush of vacuum inside my heart and skin. I do not want any of it. I no longer even have the energy to wish it were different. It just is.


There was a political argument last summer between me and an American that lasted for months. “Healthcare is not a human right,” he said, those literal words dropped from his mouth, and I would not stand for it. (Bad enough he has a thing for guns.) Bitter fire licked the inside of my damaged frame. “And what am I, then? What do I mean to you? What rights do I have, with this crippled body I cannot afford to fix?”

He thought the Canadian system was better than it is, that my injuries must have been mended to the limit of possibility before they were abandoned, but that’s never been the case. I have been broken since I was a teenager, struck by a drunk driver in a truck while crossing a street, and because I have always been poor, I have never been able to afford to see the specialists who could diagnose what ails, let alone heal me. (I have had partners who could have helped me financially, but they did not offer and I did not ask, even when I hurt so much I could not walk.) Because of this, my adult life has never had a day without pain.

The problem, according to my semi-socialist government, (the worst of both systems), is that even though I was on a cane for years and could barely lift my right arm for nearly a decade, my damage does not immediately threaten my life nor, conversely, is it so mild that a GP could stick a pharmaceutical band-aid on it and call it done. Instead I live in the hollow of the system, the trough of suffering in between the two extremes; constant chronic pain destroys my quality of life, but not “enough” to be treated for free.

After his surprise came horror and eventually the offer of a peculiar deal; to stop arguing these politics with me if I agree to let him cover my medical bills. This particular treaty, though gracious, struck me as untenable for a long while. It is not that he cannot afford it, I know he can, but I was steadfast for months. At the heart of it, the unfairness that still remains unaddressed, the countless others who are stuck in my position who are not so lucky to have any patron. Be the change, do not falter.

Yet now, almost a year later, the appointments have begun. Not because of what he offered, but to remove the look that crawls across his face when he sees me wince. It irks me to the marrow to be a burden, I rage against it, but there is one thing that trumps it – I cannot stand to cause pain. I have been well trained by my awful history to pay my own distress little mind in comparison to that of others. (Did you know that the root of “martyr” is “witness”?) My resistance activated both until, unknowingly, he tripped that wire.

So I booked some appointments and started seeing specialists. (Without telling him what it’s cost me, aside from sharing how hard it is to do these things alone. Perhaps he’ll read this confession and ask to address the credit card bills that have been too large for me to pay. Won’t that be another fascinating conversation?) Some of them started talking about having to cut me open. Some of them sent me for tests. But all of them passed me to other specialists, until earlier this week I was examined by an an osteopathic at an expensive sports medicine clinic so foreign to my experience that it looked to me like the set of a dystopian sci-fi film, the background of some medical breakthrough the plebeians aren’t allowed to have. The doctor’s specialties are musculoskeletal problems and athletical medical injuries. He was quick with his diagnosis, but seemed very sure and all the symptoms seem to line up.

The doctor believes I have a severe case of sacroiliitis caused by previous injuries. (The sacroiliac joints are inside the hips and connect the leg to the spine.) He told me my original injury must have been truly serious, it’s “flat-out amazing” that I get around as well as I do, and that the remaining pain is most likely an inflamed sacroiliac joint that originally puffed up when I was walking on even more “impossible pain”. (He guessed that, but correctly. I did so for years.) Also, sacroiliitis will never heal without medical intervention.

To treat it, I’m to go to a chiropractor, be studded with needles run through with electric current to relax the area, and then the doctor will give me an ultrasound guided Sacroiliac Joint Steroid Injection of corticosteroids directly into the space between my bones right after. If his diagnosis is correct, that I’ve mostly healed from the original injury and all that’s left is reactionary protectionist instinct, the pain should evaporate after only one shot. My appointment is at the end of July. I am dreading every part of it.

Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, corticosteroids were voted Allergen of the Year in 2005 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

He had no comment on my other sources of chronic pain, (ankle, shoulder, the mysterious misplaced lump of hot and suffering tissue that lives in my lumbar), or the the blood-where-it-shouldn’t-be and the follow-up ultrasound appointments, but if he is correct about the sacroiliitis, then he will be able to remove the debilitating screwdriver-in-the-flesh source of what cripples me most. I’ll be able to move again. I’ll be able to walk and to run.

I might even be able to dance.

all dressed up and unable to go

I spent almost all of yesterday trapped in my apartment, mincing about on broken limbs, missing out on everyone’s parties. I am so tired of chronic pain. Unbelievably, horribly tired. I need to get back to Seattle, settle in for an afternoon with a massage therapist friend who knows my case history, chat them up, offer them chocolate, and grit my teeth while my bones are re-placed, my flesh made malleable under their interesting hands. I’ve left it too long again, to the point where it’s affecting my quality of life and extending the healing process, two steps backward with every step forward.

Oh well. Maybe next weekend. As with everything else in my life, it all comes down to money. The lack of it. It does not help that my boots died, too. Stitching popped, soles peeling into pages of failed rubber, and the final straw – a zipper that snapped mid-step – all in three days about a month after purchase. I couldn’t afford new boots when I got them the same way I can’t afford new boots now, but they were a necessity, even if I didn’t like them, because everything else I own has a heel, which, given the current state of my injuries, grind the bones together in my ankle with almost an audible sound.

My back, too, I need to have looked at. The current theory is that I sprained my spine when my bicycle chain snapped under me in December, but the more I live with the damage and fall-out, the less I believe that to be what’s crippling me now.

sometimes we have the same colour iris

He smells of comfort, hair products, and exhaustion, solid and shadow eyed. He is wounded, oddly fragile, a count-down of days until surgery, less than the fingers on one hand. Five, now four. We are a chord, complementary notes, time shifted. My inability to climb stairs, now his. The need for a cane, the inability to concentrate through pain. Later this week doctors will strap him to a table, do something complicated with hot injections of plastic, drills and thick needles, fill the cracks in his knee with medical foam, a supportive core of artificial cartilage to carry his bones. A handful of pills every day after, as if he were dying. Expect: chemical powders, fuzzy headed answers, and sleep, almost a sickness. I am aware, concerned, but trying not to worry. When he looks at me, his pupils still dilate.

as through this, we transform

365:2011.01.15 - no public face

Today is the anniversary of the day I was hit by a truck seven years ago. It threw me thirty feet, peeling the skin from my knees like red fruit, shifting my bones, and tearing my silk skirt and shoulder like they were made from the same tissue. My hips were no longer a cradle, but a crooked cup, dropped and badly repaired. My right arm wouldn’t follow commands.


Your heart, it tastes like something I used to remember. Words restarted, strange memories, reverb, a breath of fresh air, and shift. (Standing in a room torn down years ago, shouting at a man who will no longer talk to me, never see, don’t mention, “I never said it would be easy to be with me.” If I could have seen the future, I would have walked out then, every step away a commitment to a better tomorrow.) We sit in your vehicle outside my building, the third night in a row, dark, midnight warm, a scene from a movie we’re writing with all the verve of a massacre, interpreting the strings, showing our scissors, oxytocin gleam, sharpening knives, as close as the moment at New Year’s Eve when we kissed under confetti and flashing lights. A change, the weather, our sea, research material, a history beginning to mingle, to be.

Between my arms, pride, peroxide corrosive, sincere and loaded as a gun. Lying on the couch, discussing humanities, a button floats to the top, ready to be pushed. He stiffens, ambiguity banished, a familiar motif, easier for me to get to than him for me, a center of Rowan tree, witch tree, anger, dense and thick with power, almost spitting his words as, counter-intuitive, I relax, comfortable with the coda, the moment, hatred matched with an alpha sympathy. We both have this. It is a gift, as well as a curse. Us as graphic motif, living, crackling towers of fury, hands raised, ground shaking, pulling down a storm. He apologised, though it was unnecessary, an instinct ground deep, appreciated as part of a medley, a comfort carved from context, clever and adored. Though you make me afraid, I wanted to say, it does not stem from this, but how much I want to live in your heart.

No wonder I’ve been perpetually wiped out.

Good news!!

In the past two weeks, I’ve gone to the physiotherapist twice. First for my shoulder, second for my ankle. The first appointment was nothing special. He gave me some isometric exercises to practice at home, to strengthen my muscles and ligaments without moving them around, and hooked me up to a TENS machine that left bruised hickey octopus sucker marks all over my skin. The second appointment, though, which focused on my ankle, was a little bit life changing. Turns out, and why none of the doctors ever figured this out, I don’t know, my ankle was dislocated! The physiotherapist did a few motion tests, prodded conclusively with his fingers, then, incredibly, just pressed the bones back into place. It was a very peculiar feeling, but the relief was immediate. There’s still pain, but it’s a dull ache instead of a chronic, constant sharp pressure, and the brain fuzziness that accompanied it is almost entirely gone.

It seems that when I went rollerblading in broken boots all those years ago, the compression of the ill fit slowly shoved my bones out of place, wrecking some of the connective tissue and setting a precedent in the flesh for it to slip out in future, much like my shoulder, which is why my injury would flare up randomly when I ran or even stepped off a curb the wrong way.

To finally have an ultimate solution, to be able to stand and walk and know what was wrong, has been revolutionary. I have been given exercises to keep it in place – standing on one foot on a balance board, twenty minutes on a stationary bike, pushing with the other foot to give it a ride, and fifty pound leg presses, as gently as possible – and the fellow that sold us my new ankle brace recommended a very good series of stretches, where you trace out the alphabet in the air with your toes. My problems now are only healing and strength. Healing, to get over the tiny soft tissue tears from misplaced bones, and strength, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

injury update: you have to be kidding

I took a tumble while I was out on Saturday seeing the doctor, so now the tally of injuries has been added to. Now my right foot and ankle are bandaged and not particularly weight bearing, my left wrist is in a brace and my right arm is in a sling. Typing hurts, stairs are nigh impossible, and I’m effectively down to one hand.

Thanks to a doctor’s recommendation from Joshua, I have a physio appointment on Wednesday, but except for that, I’ve canceled every other plan to leave the house for the rest of the work week. If I’ve somehow missed you, please forgive me. I suddenly have a lot on my plate and very few resources. Much love to you all and thank you for your patience.