Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System

Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System

Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System

Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System

Synopsis

Rate your pain on a scale of one to ten. What about on a scale of spicy to citrus? Is it more like a lava lamp or a mosaic? Pain, though a universal element of human experience, is dimly understood and sometimes barely managed. Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System is a collection of literary and experimental essays about living with chronic pain. Sonya Huber moves away from a linear narrative to step through the doorway into pain itself, into that strange, unbounded reality. Although the essays are personal in nature, this collection is not a record of the author's specific condition but an exploration that transcends pain's airless and constraining world and focuses on its edges from wild and widely ranging angles.

Huber addresses the nature and experience of invisible disability, including the challenges of gender bias in our health care system, the search for effective treatment options, and the difficulty of articulating chronic pain. She makes pain a lens of inquiry and lyricism, finds its humor and complexity, describes its irascible character, and explores its temperature, taste, and even its beauty.

Excerpt

This is a collection of unconventional essays on chronic pain; my goal with these essays was not to fix or provide advice (most of us have had too much of that) but to explore the landscape. Pain is a territory known by those who are in that land. I am in a small corner of it, and the more I see of its vastness, the more I realize how little I know. I hope that in trying to put my own experience into words, I am not confounding or isolating anyone else in pain. I hope with these essays to add to the growing literature about what pain is and how it is experienced, imagined, and expressed so that its universal burden can be shared. Above all, I hope to connect with other people who have visited the land of pain or who are there now, to help us collectively understand this experience that is an inextricable part of being human, and to build treatment models for addressing pain that are humane and comprehensive as our scientific and emotional understanding of pain grows. and I hope this book is not depressing; I had so much fun writing it.

Nalini Jones, Elizabeth Hilts, Rachel Basch, and Sandy Rodriguez Barron have delved deeply into this topic with me, offering insights and encouragement at every step; my dear friend Elizabeth, in particular, walks and texts the journey with me, every painful step, and I love her more than words can say. Martha Bayne and Zoe Zolbrod at the Rumpus were generous enough to consider a second version . . .

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