Hello Hyde

In which we meet a mysterious stranger

I have things a good deal easier than a lot of people. I don’t have continual, endless pain, I don’t have a permanent physical disability, and my brain more or less manages its chemical levels without too much intervention.

Some of the time, I’m okay. I can function, push through a bit of fatigue and get on with things.

But then I get a timely reminder: Mister Hyde is never far from the surface.

He emerges when I’m sitting in a meeting and twisted to the side, or I’ve been for a walk, or I’ve been sitting in a car or bus, or I’ve done something physical, or become stressed or excited or upset, or on a few occasions, he’s emerged when I’ve been sleeping – which is possibly his idea of humour.

Hyde arrives with an insidious cramping that creeps up and down my right side – from the muscles in my right butt cheek, all the way up my back, through my shoulder and pec, up my neck, and across the right side of my face.

He lingers and worms and burrows, pulling on nerves until the nausea builds and the pain ramps up. He’ll occasionally abate for a bit after I vomit, always the gentleman, but slithers back after a considerate pause. Ever the tease, he sometimes crawls along my muscles to chew at my calf, a potential precursor to him buggering off.

He usually rips his way back up.

Mister Hyde tends to stick around for two or three or four days, with little rhyme or reason to his presence. He’ll shut up a bit if I manage to chug painkillers in time and keep them down, but I can feel him lingering underneath, waiting for my bloodstream to empty. I lie on the floor (hard surfaces are easier to dig your muscles against), curtains drawn, waiting for him to leave me alone.

Mister Hyde is an absolute bastard.

He arrived when I was about thirteen, a curiously literal pain in the butt that would cause me to dig my rear against seat belt holders and the corners of cupboards. He grew as I did, spreading until now he sometimes flirts with the left side of my body, cramping a shoulder muscle or digging into my neck. A reminder that there is a whole lot of unconquered territory left, and that things could be a whole lot worse.