In the morning, I feel no pain


In the morning, I feel no pain.

I’m granted a second (maybe two), of reprieve when I awake. This, make no mistake, is no gentle rousing, but rather a painful slog upwards from horizontal to vertical. First, my eyes blink open through the gritty sands of slumber. Next, my ears twitch, alerted to my white noise Bed Time Fan app and our A/C wall unit blasting its technological guts out. (Thanks, tinnitus!) But in those fleeting moments, when The Hen has not quite landed on Planet Earth, Life is bliss. I forget. And my skin forgets its singular mission to hurt me.

It is so cunning, this skin of mine. For the bitter irony is that I have never felt more comfortable in my skin, and never wanted more desperately to crawl out of it every second of every day.

At night, another moment of grace. No, my body is still itching/burning/pinpricking with this physiological nightmare of mine. But as I close my willing eyes, as my brain’s circuitry downshifts towards sleep, my last wisp of a thought is always,

“Maybe tomorrow it will stop.”

It had been declared. It has been one of those weeks, and my beautiful sponsor deemed Sunday: A Day for Hen. To let myself off the hook of any and all expectations that I “achieve” anything. Maximum Self-Care-us was the aim. Doing nuthin’ was the game.

But there were addictions to feed. Calm-down. This cross-addiction of mine is but to a tropical nut. And Hell-o, did you know that coconut is neither a nut, nor a fruit, but a drupe? Who knew! And then there is the addiction over which hubby remains powerless—Coke Zero. Although initially perturbed that COKE ZERO CHANGED THEIR FORMULA, it hasn’t stopped anyone I know from his daily guzzle.

It was about to go down at Ralph's.

On days like this, shopping is torture. Squatting down to collect a can of organic coconut milk from the bottom shelf, my jeans scrape my skin. As I carry my weighty packages out to the car, the plastic handles dig painfully into my arm, branding me with disturbing angry marks.

Ignition on. Pedal on the right. I head for home, reminding myself the precious seconds I could shave off while speeding are not worth it. (Speeding bad. Law good.) I repeat this mantra all the way home. The image of stripping off all my clothes the second I walk through the door blocks out everything: the traffic light, the sunset and the sky.

When I bust through the front door, I hear him coming…Clip-Clip-Clip-CLIP-CLIP-CLIP...His trotting intensifies as he turns the corner from the bedroom and spots me. Our eyes lock. He is crying, near dancing with joy. Unreasonably excited! I call out his name! Dropping to my knees, we embrace. His tail beats the sweetest canine metronome beat against our hardwood floor as I hold my bouncy basset hound boy: Mr. Wahlter White McIntyre.

I have been gone for 47 minutes.

The first thing I do is (as promised!), is drop all my clothes and tear into the bathroom, because although I have been gone for under an hour, I have a rockin’ kidney transplant. (Hats Off, McIntyre!) This does not deter my steadfast hound. He chases me into the bathroom. As I take my rightful place upon our ceramic throne (Pee. So. Good), his head collapses against my leg. He stares. Sheer adoration oozing from his hazel eyes, as if to say,

“I’m not sure how I survived, but please never, ever, ever go away again.”


“Please feed me.”

I hold his furry face in my hands—frosty face, all white now—and thank him.

“Thank you, Wahlter. I can’t get through this without you.”

And he looks back at me as if to say,

“You will never have to.”


“Please feed me.”

Or both.

I feel so alone in this, because I am alone. No one can be in my skin with me. So somehow these moments must be found. Moments when the sick can be transported above their physical burdens. When they can feel lightness and laugh and remember than Life is worth it.

Sometimes I find this release in prayer. Or in the empty space before a new intervention begins —a new pill, change of diet, CBD oil, photo-therapy, or desensitization treatment. An uncharted period where hope still reigns supreme. A blank page where the result has yet to be written.

Or with this guy.

My bud who does battle with my husband every morning in the form of a gigantic “GRRR…” as Kevin bends over to kiss me goodbye. My muse who lay next to me all summer as I finished my book—following me from one location to the next: From the patio, to the dining room table, to the couch, and on rough days, his favorite location and mine—the bed.

The bed. Where I experience those moments of grace, however brief, every day. The ignorance of morning and my nighttime prayer.

"Maybe tomorrow it will stop."

I am speechless at the power of your prose. You have helped those of us who do not live in your skin understand and, perhaps, show more compassion to those around us who suffer things we can never imagine.

— Alix Godbout
Simply beautiful.

— Michelle Stevenson
You’re a beautiful writer, Henriette. The way you express your journey is inspiring, but also showing your human frail side. It’s a story many should read.

— Leslie Stamp
My heart is always so touched by your words.

— Mary Anderson-Harris