‘ Gravity …the universal force of attraction acting between all matter… ‘ – The entire world is pulling on us. How does it feel to be in a world of chronic illness?
1. ‘Gravity, also called gravitation, in mechanics, is the universal force of attraction acting between all matter’. – Britannica
2. Dysautonomia is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, where gravity becomes your nemesis. – Barbara
3. The entire world is pulling on us, and yet we don’t feel its force. It baffled me as a child, and it baffles me now. Why does its strength go unnoticed?
4. When I stand, my blood will not rise. My heart is a skyrocket. My lungs can’t keep up, and my shoulders ache with burden. I walk or stumble close to the walls, in case I lose consciousness.
5. Astronauts get this too. They return from space to find their bodies have forgotten gravity. Because they’re cool, important and heroic, we care about what happens to them. And so they are studied and supported, until they’re shiny and white-toothed once more.
6. My symptoms have no narrative. My teeth are not white and I’m not cool, important or heroic. And so I don’t get studied or supported.
7. I can pretend. When I lie in bed, I’m in space. I breathe better in a vacuum than I can in the world. Everything is in slow motion. Peaceful and weightless. My bed-time tinnitus is just some weird noise my spaceship makes.
8. But, what goes up must come down – and quickly. I wake up on Earth, my head and guts spinning. Not the romantic spin of a particle. A monotonous, clunky churn, like… I don’t know…
9. … a cement mixer?
10. Wait, no. A centrifuge.
11. Language is my life’s work. Words, a once beautiful, unmeasurable fluid, are now meaningless clumps of stuff requiring painful extraction. I need post-its and lists to untangle it all. The only thing that makes sense anymore is gravity. And…
12. ‘Entropy, the measure of a system’s thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. Because work is obtained from ordered molecular motion, the amount of entropy is also a measure of the molecular disorder, or randomness, of a system.‘
13. I don’t think any of my energy is available for doing useful work.
14. My heart is inflamed. My mast cells are chaos. Collagen. Cytokines. Chromosome 8. I’m tired of reading about my various malfunctions. The problem is simple: my immune system clipped those invisible strings that made me forget about gravity. I’m a useless puppet nobody wants.
15. And when I feel unwanted, I try to get people to want me.
16. ‘Earth satellite, also called artificial satellite, artificial object launched into a temporary or permanent orbit around Earth. Spacecraft of this type may be either crewed or uncrewed, the latter being the most common’.
17. I tell my loved ones I’m falling. Some hold out their arms. Others circle, radiating discomfort, and coercing for gratitude and hope. They need me to soldier on, or at least submit to yoga and astrology.
18. About 40% of the satellites orbiting the Earth are useless.
19. And I will never submit to yoga, or astrology.
20. ‘Constellation […], any of certain groupings of stars that were imagined—at least by those who named them—to form conspicuous configurations of objects or creatures in the sky. Constellations are useful in assisting astronomers and navigators to locate certain stars.’
21. Arrythmias. Palpitations. Raynaud’s. Chest pain. Headaches. Tinnitus. Brain fog. Allergies. Fainting. Nausea. Sweats.
22. A good doctor is present. She accepts my list.
23. A bad doctor is cold. I say, look at me. Look at how much work this is. Take some of this from me. Please.
24. He dismisses me, his expressions inert.
25. I’m not an astronaut. I’m a sick, ordinary woman.
26. The entire world is pulling on us. It baffled me as a child, and it baffles me now. Why does our strength go unnoticed?
27. ‘Momentum, product of the mass of a particle and its velocity. Momentum is a vector quantity; i.e., it has both magnitude and direction. Isaac Newton’s second law of motion states that the time rate of change of momentum is equal to the force acting on the particle.’
28. I’m ready to walk on melting frost. I’m ready for meds that don’t react. I’m ready for language. I’m ready for a world that is a world, not the leftover scraps of an airborne toxic event.
29. Live for today, people say. Ground yourself. Meditate. Embrace the moment.
30. I can’t. I’m a tomorrow girl.
31. My body has unfinished chapters. Maladies came to me in my twenties and thirties, each as unpleasant and determined as the last. Fatigue, pain, depression. They suffocated me with promises of endlessness, and then, they went away.
32. Will this be the same?
33. I’m going to stay in bed a little longer. I like it here. Everything is in slow motion. Peaceful and weightless.
35. ‘Time, a measured or measurable period, a continuum that lacks spatial dimensions. Time is of philosophical interest and is also the subject of mathematical and scientific investigation. Time appears to be more puzzling than space because it seems to flow or pass or else people seem to advance through it. But the passage or advance seems to be unintelligible’.