I am reading Eldest by Christopher Paolini. Even if one does not take into consideration that this is the second looooooong book of a trilogy, written by a very young man (he began when he was 15 and is now only 21), it is very well written. Oh, of course I have some picky things that irritate me, but, generally, I am pleased with the 2 books I have read. I’m looking forward to the third one.
As I was reading along, I got to page 400 and encountered this passage:
I have a new name for pain.
The Obliterator. Because when you’re in pain, nothing else can exist. Not thought. Not emotion. Only the drive to escape the pain. When it’s strong enough, the Obliterator strips us of everthing that makes us who we are, until we’ver reduced to creatures less than animals, creatures with a single desire and goal: escape.
A good name, then.
I’m falling apart, Saphira, like an old horse that’s plowed too many fields.
Now, tell me, pond denizens, how did a person as young as this barely post-adolescent learn the depths to which pain can take you?
I’m not a writer. I’m a bit of a personal journalist, but I have a lifetime behind me, over half of it involving varying amounts of pain. Lately, it’s been more pain rather than less, both acute and chronic. I have never been able to describe it satisfactorily. Yet this slip of a lad has nailed it – on the head.
Ray White wrote a wonderful piece called “The Dragon Grins.” I have tried to contact him for permission to print it here, but all of the e-mail addresses listed for him on various sites are defunct. If he sees it here, I hope he will forgive me for posting it here.
The Dragon Grins
The doctor explains to me that I have a Dragon that has come to possess me. This Dragon is mean. This Dragon is deceiving and destructive. “But” the doctor says, “We can work at keeping this Dragon down.”
“What is this Dragon’s name?” I ask.
The doctor in his professional calmness says “The Dragon is FMS.” The doctor explains to me ways we are going to keep him down. “Feed the Dragon some meds like Trazodone or Elavil. Do some light exercise, maybe the Dragon will get tired and leave you alone for a while.”
I turn to leave and for the first time I see this Dragon. He looks at me with those evil yellow eyes, and the Dragon grins. I say to myself that Dragons can be slain. I read that in stories at school. The armor clad knight slaying the Dragon and triumphantly returning to town. As I am in this daydream the Dragon jumps on me. I wrestle with him. His hot breath sears my head. His roar makes my ears ring. He leaves me in a pile of flesh on the ground. I ache all over. Some parts of my body are painful to touch. I am exhausted as I pick myself back up again. The Dragon looks back to me — and the Dragon grins.
“I hate you Dragon.” I scream as he walks away. I feed the Dragon the medication prescribed. Slowly at first, then increasing a little as time goes by. I do begin a little exercise. I change some of my diet and increase the carbohydrates. I am starting to feel better. Wow! I can go back to work now. With joy I move about relatively pain free. And I say to myself, “Maybe I have beat this Dragon. Maybe the Dragon was only my imagination. I was just a little depressed and down, but now life is great.”
I look to the sky and see dark clouds looming. A cold North wind starts to blow. I hear a thunderous pounding of footsteps. I have heard that sound watching Jurassic park, but I’m not watching the movie. Boom….. Boom… Boom… I don’t see anything. Boom…Boom… I panic and start to run. I don’t know where to run, but I just run. The pounding gets closer and louder. I feel breath on my neck. I dare not turn around as I try to run faster…faster. A claw grabs my shoulder. Searing hot pain rips down my back. I stumble and get back up. This time something trips me and I roll to my back, staring upward. Terror runs through my body.
The Dragon has returned! “You can’t escape” the Dragon yells, “YOU ARE MINE!!” I try to get up as the Dragon slams my body back to the ground. I can hardly stand the pain as he tortures me by stomping my hands. With his teeth he pulls at muscles in my back and legs. He burns my head with intense fiery breath. The battle is finally over. He stares at my crumpled body as I try to get focused on this beast. My eyes finally clear enough to see, and the Dragon grins.
Days pass. My fingers no longer work like they used to. My muscles feel like the second day of Olympic training, but the sensation does not leave. My head is not clear. I do not see well at night. Parts of me are cold and clammy. I am stiff. Why did the Dragon beat me so hard? When I try to sleep, the Dragon slaps me awake several times at night. Sometimes I am freezing. In bed I awake drenched in sweat. It hurts to stand. It hurts to sit. My mind says one thing and my mouth says another. And the Dragon grins.
Sometimes I think I am in a nightmare and will just someday wake up, the real me. I don’t look sick, so why do I feel so bad. Friends and family laugh when I mess up on my words talking to them. I feel stupid looking in the refrigerator and not knowing why or walking around in circles either not finding what I was after or forgetting what I was looking for. If I am driving at night and it starts to rain, the road disappears. And it is not uncommon to go somewhere and then make wrong turns coming back. My mind said turn right, but my body said left. I can go somewhere and not remember how I got there. I am not dumb, just not “connected” anymore.
Outwardly I laugh and play, but inside I have to cry sometimes. And the Dragon grins.
By Ray White
These two people know the depths to which chronic and acute pain will bring you. I wish I had their facility with words.