This post is not going to be inspirational, and it’s not going to be happy. It’s not going to touch on issues of accessibility or accommodation, and it’s not going to make some revolutionary statement about the fight against the ableism that has saturated our society.

Instead, this post is about me, and this post is about pain.

It’s about what the hell you do when your body is not even safe while you’re asleep – because recently, I’ve learned that mine isn’t.

Yesterday, I woke up with both of my knees and one of my elbows completely dislocated. I woke up in a tremendous amount of pain, so instead of getting out of bed, I had to spend god knows how long putting my joints back in place. Instead of stretching and welcoming the day, I had to start it off with a very harsh reminder that I am sick.

Today, I woke up with my shoulder completely dislocated. In fact, as I sit here (slowly) typing this post with one hand, I can tell you that I still haven’t gotten the joint back in its socket – it’s stuck.

Now, for those of you who are not familiar with joint dislocations, you’re probably asking yourselves: How in the hell did you not wake up as soon as the joints slipped out of place?!

The answer is simple: I was too damn tired. See, living with a chronic illness means you’re tired almost all the time. It doesn’t matter what you do, really… you’re just always tired. For me, this means that once I actually fall asleep? Good luck waking me up, because if I am lucky enough to close my eyes and fall asleep, I will sleep like the dead. So, instead of waking up as soon as something pops out of place, I sleep through it, probably make it worse by moving around, and wake up in the morning in a lot of pain.

Now, most of the time, I can reduce the joint(s) myself. In fact, I’ve become somewhat of an expert when it comes to fixing subluxations and dislocations, simply because they happen to me so often. Every now and then, though, a day like today comes along – every now and then, a joint slips out, and I can’t for the life of me get it back in place. Normally, this only happens if there’s some kind of trauma – y’know, if my clumsy, long-legged self trips or falls and knocks something out of place. Today, though, I woke up like this… but not in a cool Beyonce kind of way. Today, I dislocated my shoulder in my sleep, and now that I’m awake, it’s stuck there.

Which brings me to the title of this post: What do you do when not even sleep is safe?

What the hell do you do when your body decides to start the day with a fight – before you’ve even rolled out of bed in the morning?

Luckily, I have an answer. I have one piece of advice, for myself and for anyone reading this who is experiencing something similar to what I am. The answer is this:

You curl up with every pillow and blanket you have, you try to convince your dog to cuddle up with you, and you say to yourself, “hey… take the day off today,” because you’re allowed to do that. You’re allowed to stay in bed, you’re allowed to be angry at the world, or at God, or at whatever it is you believe in, and you’re allowed to throw your hands in the air (*gently, so as not to dislocate another shoulder) and say, “screw it”.

When you find out that not even sleep is safe, you sleep anyway. You get back into bed, you give your body and your mind the opportunity to rest, and you hope with everything in you that tomorrow will be better.

I hope that tomorrow will be better for all of us.

– Stephanie, ECC

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