restricted access Circadian

From: Circadian

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61 CIRCADIAN Worn tracks in the carpet that cannot be vacuumed away. The path of pacing. A trail that traces the proof of pain’s presence. Persistence. Think strapped down, chained up, locked away—think powerless. Enslaved by the need to pace. Trapped in a cycle, walking circles around the pain at 2:00 a.m., trying to assuage a headache, one that insomnia only intensifies, yet sleep is impossible with such throbbing, clobbering. Pace around and grasp the fact that suicide is the only cure, but not yet, not when there is still a sliver of hope that something will work, that even though it’s palliative, pacing will eventually alleviate. One hopes. Keep pacing. Because pain exacerbates when stagnant. Just sitting with it is not an option. If all motion stops, the ache then congregates , an angry mob pounding at every crevice in the skull. Thanatotic thump. So keep pacing. Proceed on that trampled path. The crushed carpet—a symptom of cluster headaches. Then, an abrupt pause as knees crash onto carpet, fists pound floor, head bangs ground, the carpet too matted down to be a soft place where a head can land. 62 | Chelsey Clammer After an hour and a half of pacing, the ferocious palpitations evaporate. Momentarily. But they return, again, always, always again, but first those eight minutes of relief. Exactly eight. Clockwork. No one knows why cluster headaches take eight-minute breaks, but they do and it’s true for most who are afflicted with this incurable illness. Eight minutes and too soon the recess is ruined by the next cluster coming. One minute left. Inhaling, exhaling, praying to a god that possibly doesn’t even exist. Inhale. Exhale. Here it comes. Clockwork. Then clusters raid, persist, recreate a chaos that won’t unclench, unclamp, unclasp. So tenacious. Squeezed tight, squeezed right there—right behind the right eye. Nothing can be done. The hows and whys of cluster headaches are unknown. Pain with a mind of its own. I was there. A moment occurs that will change my life, but not at first, not right then. Instead, there will be the moment and there will be the ten years in which the results of that moment lie dormant. But during that decade, meaning will gather, snowball . But first, that moment. I witness the second when my father’s head hits metal, hear the ensuing violent gasps. I see skin cut open and watch Circadian | 63 blood waterfall down his face. Later, I will see his stitches. Much later, the moment’s full effect will spring forth. Ten years after his head injury, a cluster of nerves starts clutching my father. They grip his neck, jaw, face, eyes, temples . He is defenseless. His world slips. Falls. The clusters are soon followed by pacing and alcohol, by oxygen and medication , by anything that might help. Nothing helps. The effect of a head injury squeezes. Yanks. Then the father-shaped space in my life is left blank. Our relationship becomes a cycle of blame we don’t know how to stop. The cycle of blame: Ice cream instigates an argument. An argument is our last interaction. Our last interaction is when I’m twenty-one and Dad asks if I want ice cream. Ice cream is something I don’t eat. I don’t eat ice cream because I’m vegan. Being vegan becomes a symbol of our non-relationship. Our non-relationship consists of one thing: him blaming me for shutting him out and me blaming him for not reaching out. We don’t reach out, making our interactions nothing but the same circular argument. The same circular argument. Circular. Argument. Circle. Argue. All of this will only end when he’s dead. He’s dead. But first: “If you fucking cared to know anything about your daughter, you’d know I don’t eat ice cream!” In this last interaction—I’m 64 | Chelsey Clammer twenty-one and he’s two days into being fifty-four—I resort to acting like a kid, a tantrum bursting. A foot stomping, smashing down carpet to pound anger out of me. I could take this further. I could crash onto the floor and start pounding fists on the ground. Bang my head where there isn’t any soft place for it to land. Why? To make a point. To express a pain. How his absentee parenting irks me, invisible-izes me. Him not really caring to see a...


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