I’d like to introduce you to my pain.

This is the pain that the doctors assure me they believe is real, but they can find no cause for it. The pain that dances along the left side of my abdomen wearing spikes, almost a pressure, tingling and burning and seething. The pain that leaves a while and then comes to visit, an unwelcome guest whose unpredictability is at least as troublesome as their baggage.

It’s a throb at times, a strum at others, rippling through my abdomen like a dissonant chord.

It makes my sleep restless. It brings me close to tears.

I know what gas pain feels like and this is not it. Sure, what the doctors call irritable bowel syndrome, code for “something’s wrong, but heck if we know what,” does include gas pains at times. And they are horrible, filling me to bursting, making my stomach feel like an over-inflated basketball ready to pop and I so wish that it would just pop and give me relief from the pressure squeezing my insides. The gas is not a good feeling, but it’s not the pain that I want you to meet.

This pain is special, it doesn’t stick around to be examined or codified or classified or rectified.

The doc tossed some pills in my direction, give these a try, they might help. And, to be fair, in a situation that isn’t, they do help with the pain. They lessen it, but they create complications. When I work out, I sweat a lot – except when I’m taking these pills. And more irritatingly, because, to be frank and honest, it is unlikely that the FDA approved these drugs after testing them on a group of women, let alone a group of women that included women with nipple piercings, I discovered a side effect unknown to both my doctor and my embarrassed local pharmacist. They cause my well healed piercings to extrude crystalline gook that stinks, gives me an itchy rash if it stays on my skin too long, and cuts up the inside of the piercings. Fun!

So I don’t take those pills for the most part. I take a mint/ginger/fennel oil pill, which has its own travails because I intensely dislike the taste of mint, but also seems to help keep me stable once I get there.

But I’m not stable right now and I haven’t been for a few months. I was managing from about the end of December to the end of February, but I was on antibiotics for a while and then I went to a conference and everything kind of fell off the rails. On and off, the pain has been back, unpredictable. I can’t fix it. I can’t do anything with it unless I want to invite the side effects back into my life (along with not really fixing things). And I don’t. I just don’t.

So I’m getting to know this pain. Adjusting myself to it. Working around it and through it. I make adjustments in my diet, my sleep, my exercise routine, anywhere I can tweak to try and solve this puzzle and be pain free.

But just when I think I’ve solved it, the pain comes roaring back for no reason that I can determine. It frustrates me and frustrates my husband, who doesn’t like to see me in pain. I waver between acceptance and the fight, because I don’t know which will work better at any given time.

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