Andrew recently got us to watch The Avengers family of movies (The Avengers, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America – haven’t gotten around to The Hulk yet). I’m not much of an action movie fan, so I was quite surprised at how good they were. Given that the movie writers had some serious constraints on them—including characters already established in the earlier comic books—I was impressed by the inventiveness of the movies. Still, even though the films brought me into their imaginative world, the Mother within me could not help but notice all the property damage left in the wake of each movie. Sure, the Avengers saved the world, but they left Manhattan in rubble. Who is going to clean up that mess?
All those toppling towers and torn-up streets are meant to show us the scope of the threat the superheroes faced. It takes one hell of a villain (and a fleet of CGI wizards) to level an American city. It seems logical that every fight leaves behind some collateral damage. A fight as profound as one that ends up saving the Earth from alien invaders should warrant a mighty mess, right?
Andrew especially loved the scene in The Avengers in which Captain America instructs The Hulk to “smash.” And indeed he does. The big green guy scales skyscrapers in a few steps, hollowing out buildings with each of his feet. As I watched the images of glass showering to the pavement below, rebar sailing like new snow, and mobs of generic extras fleeing the battleground that was once their everyday lives, I realized that I’ve been experiencing my own kind of collateral damage lately.
My sarcoidosis is on the march once more—back again in my joints. My hands are swollen and twisted, making typing this post difficult. Along with these rheumatic problems, I’m having more neurological problems too—more vertigo, more blind spells, more headaches. I’m so tired I feel like I’ve got a gamma-ray infused mutant crushing the life out of me. I’ve been around this track enough times to know that I will eventually improve enough to forget how lousy I feel when the disease is flaring up…and then start the whole process again.
In my body the sarcoidosis is the Digitari— the giant, insect-like marauders that are aiming to conquer the Avengers’ world, and are quite happy to destroy it in the process. My life is rubble left behind after a big-ass sarcoidosis flare-up. No matter how well I manage my calendar, or how much I try to live a normal life, giant pieces of what is important to me fall away from me when I need 16 hours of sleep a night, when cooking a family dinner wears me out for two days, when looking at words makes me seasick. Fighting sarcoidosis strips me down to the essential elements of living. The rest is collateral damage. What gets wrecked is meaningful time with Andrew and Jay, my writing, my time with friends.
Living with a chronic illness means inhabiting a battlefield. My own body is the terrain upon which I fight for ownership of my life. I don’t have a clean-up crew to arrive after the war is waged. I’ll take the best cover I can find and go from there.
Have you ever experienced collateral damage in your own life?