The burning sensation running across the left side of my lower back and the outer side of the thigh made me spring up from the table in a quaint restaurant in West Haven, CT. It was the first time in nearly six days since burning nerves on both sides of my spine that I’d spent more than an hour outside.
A black waitress wearing a Santa hat with elf ears on it asked, “Are you okay?” as I stood beside the table.
“I’m alright,” I replied while rubbing my legs. “As long as nothing falls off or gets worse I’m good.”
I fumbled through my pill bottle to get out my regular medication and a Tramadol pill. I also placed a few drops of CBD oil in my juice.
The reduction in my discomfort was nearly immediate but with pills swimming in my stomach took up so much room my appetite was nearly gone. I picked through my grits with cheese and bacon and struggled to swallow a couple of pieces of garlic toast. However, I wasn’t able to get much in me.
A second waitress wearing all black except for a Christmas pin bounded over to the table.
“Is everything okay?”
“No,” I replied.
“The food was good but no everything not okay but that’s not your fault. No is my word of the year.”
“You know last year ‘no’ was my husband’s word of the year.”
“Good for him. Saying no to things you don’t want to do, can’t do, and telling the unvarnished truth about situations is incredibly freeing. You should try it.”
“You know I might because I’ve been very stressed out.”
“Free yourself,” I replied.
I wondered if she’d start today, which is the fictional holiday Festivus. I know I often air my grievances so they’re not penned up inside. I know I can’t possibly bear unnecessary and preventable happiness living with chronic illness and pain.
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