Over the past few days, I’ve dealt with two major spinal issues. The first was standing up after sitting for less than 30 minutes. The second was standing at my coffee machine with no bad posture or further provocation. The first was enough to send me lying down on my bed; the day wasted. As much as I hate to think of inflicting that on anyone, in “The Story,” Trishna probably experiences some of those hardships.
Spoilers?: Minor [service dog help]
As I explore Trishna’s backstory, I think it’s something like this:
She was born with some kind of spinal condition that caused her to have major spine surgery, maybe multiple, before entering middle school. She uses a wheelchair to get around so she doesn’t strain herself and Pollyanna, her service dog, helps retrieve objects, sure, but her role is probably more for retrieving Trishna’s parents when she isn’t doing well. If her spine acts up, she can find her way to somewhere like her bed to rest, then have Pollyanna retrieve assistance so Trishna can get the help she needs to proceed through the rest of the day.
To that extent, Pollyanna is an important factor in Trishna’s independence.
Without Pollyanna, Trishna could probably do things independently, but there’d always be the risk of something happening. She could have some sort of spinal pain that might cause her to slip and fall in the bathroom or prevent her from getting out of bed to start the day. It’s the sort of thing I never really encountered in my research. People talk about chronic pain and their healthcare situations, but how does someone talk about a day when they have to scrap all of their other plans for the day because their spine completely wrecked their sense of wellbeing?
People do, but these sorts of social media profiles and presences aren’t widely known.
If there’s anything I can do with “The Story,” it’s providing a fictional vehicle to tell factual experiences like this. When I was debilitated in bed, I felt completely alone, whithered in pain, and unable to do anything except wade out the worst of the symptoms. That is until, whether it’s me feeling inspired to think of Trishna or channeling Trishna’s experiences I can’t say, I imagined Trishna being in the same situation. Maybe her spine misbehaved just as mine did? When she went to bed to recover, Pollyanna sprung into action to retrieve one of her parents. Maybe it was my wishful thinking, because it took some time before I had the energy to get up to get a painkiller to moderate my pain acceptably, so it would have been nice to continue lying there in bed and maybe fall asleep.
Instead, I had to muscle my way up and over to get any relief.
To that extent, if I were manufacturing this, I am considering Trishna with more empathy and compassion than I’ve been given myself. She has resources and assistance. I could probably get a dog to help me with my service needs, but I would need that dog now, not in the time it takes for training and acclimatization. This also happens so seldomly to me that I have to force myself through it. Does that mean that Trishna’s spine has a worse condition than a healing disc and continual tailbone pain? If so, that might seem like less compassion for her… It’s difficult to decide on that, and these are all tangential to the main point: Trishna may have problems, but she is able to work through them with Pollyanna, her family, and her own willpower as well.
I imagine that when this happens with John around, he also helps.
For years, I tried to imagine what Pollyanna’s relationship as a service dog would be to Trishna once John enters the picture, and the answer is that Pollyanna and service dogs are still necessary. John is around more, sure, but Trishna would still benefit from having a dog around to coordinate the aforementioned situations. When Pollyanna passes away, as she probably will sooner due to the stress of the job than if she had not been a service dog at around age 10 rather than closer to perhaps age 11 or 12, they will grieve, and then they will get another service dog for Trishna.
It’s sad to think about but that’s what happens in life.
My research prior to my own spine problems was based around learning about chronic medical conditions and how people learn to live with them. It’s, I suppose, fortunate that I learned about that before I had to deal with my own chronic medical issues. I am feeling more back to my old self now than I did months ago, but I still don’t feel well enough to do many of the things I could have done before my spine issues happened. Whatever happens to me now, I can use these experiences of mine to draw from, so that way I don’t write from a perspective I don’t know much about.
I had to experience that total-body pain to be able to write about it, unfortunately.
Does that mean that Trishna didn’t have that oppressive pain dealt to her before I experienced it? Or would I have not written it to the degree it needed to be written to because I didn’t understand the nuance? Whether inspiration or channeling, in that worst of moments, having Trishna’s ailments flash across my thoughts was almost enough of a positive distraction to help me get through the worst of it. I would hope that my experience is the worst of it, but I know that life isn’t always that easy, so I fully anticipate that my health will continue having mostly ups with some downs, as I imagine that Trishna has accepted as well, having her entire life to deal with chronic spine issues. It might be sad to consider, but when I think of her attitude to it…
…She’s always upbeat, or trying.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: My long-term disability contact thought I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, in their attempt to deny my spine problems as a pre-existing condition, so as I was doing research, I found two articles about service dogs being prescribed for chronic pain.  and  This was before my first and second spine pain this week. Maybe the research helped my imagination? Or maybe it helped my memory? I dunno, I’m just writing this essay and “The Story.”|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2020 November 01 [11:11111111111pm to 11:39pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 November 01 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|