All of a sudden there it was and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. It made my life seem unbearable at times. It took away my sleep, my figure, my family life, my joy, my art. It made me look at life through a different lens and what I saw was not who I was but who I could become because of it. It is Pain.
Last year it became apparent that I could no longer let go of the notion that walking up and down the stairs while holding on for dear life was normal. Nor could I console myself by thinking that if I just walked more the pain would go away. Then there was this inflammation that was ever present, I didn’t need a test to let me know that I carried around inflammation, all I had to do was look at my swollen feet, hands, and face. The pain I carried was like none I had ever experienced through any of the surgeries I’ve had and it was way worse than natural childbirth.
Everywhere was pain and the pain was everywhere. When all the pain receptors in your body are all turned on at the same time, you simply don’t know which way to turn. I turned to the medical community when I had an animal bite that would not go away even after two weeks. I still have flare-ups of strange pain around the scar that has disfigured my leg. The medical community tested me for everything known to them. I was sent to specialist after specialist and spent thousands of dollars but they could not understand where the pain and the inflammation came from nor could they give me a diagnosis. They just prescribed me with a couple of painkillers and strong steroidal meds that messed up my body.
On the personal front, it hurt to stand, walk, sit, lay down, type, and hold my husband’s hand. My skin hurt. My fingers and face turned shiny. I could no longer crochet which meant the special afghan I was making for my son and his new wife would sit in my craft basket longer. (I am better and work on it from time to time until my hands cramp up with pain.)
Last summer seems like a blur because of the constant pain I was in. And it seems like the pain flare-ups are still with me. No matter what natural alternatives I take or do. Pain is still a constant in my life. The lessons I’ve learned through this pain are never ending and I view life so much more differently than when this painful journey began.
1st: Never take a day for granted. If you were able to wake up and open your eyes, then you’re day is a good one. If you woke up and you were able to move your hands and bend your knees your day got even better. If you were able to walk 10 steps when you woke up, or if you did something you couldn’t do the day before then you’re winning over the pain.
2nd: People in your life will look at you differently, they will withdraw from you, treat you with kid-gloves, and they may even call you names but none of it matters. What matters most is that you show up, you put a smile on your face and you tell the world, your family, your friends, your coworkers I am still here and I am still worthy of love. I can still contribute.
3rd: Never miss an opportunity to share your story with others. You never know when what you say and the example you live by will help someone else also dealing with their own kinds of pain. Our stories, become our history and our history becomes our legacy. Let’s leave a legacy for those who come after us to see that we went after our dreams in spite of the pain. We lived life the best we could while dealing with the pain inside.
4th: When people ask you how are you feeling? Tell them you are happy to see them, you are happy to be able to get out of the house, you are happy to ____fill in the blank. But never tell them how you are feeling. People really don’t want to know what you’re going through, it’s just a nicety that comes out of their mouths. You’ll be looked upon as a buzz kill if you share that you’re in so much pain that every movement you make feels like razor blades digging into your soul.
5th: Find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your pain. Support groups help in listening to what others are going through and how they deal with their pain. Always remember there is One who suffered greater than we could ever suffer. He hung on the cross and bared our sins for us. His body was scourged and beaten for us. Our pain becomes miniscule when thinking about what Jesus did for us.
6th: If you need help, ask. If you can’t carry something, don’t. Asking for help is one of the most humbling things an independent person can do. It will help you grow and it will help the person who is helping grow.
7th: Concentrate on the joys and blessings of your life. Look at old photos of your children, remembering the good times you had with them. Play with your pets, if you have them. Pets love you unconditionally, they see past your pain and they love your heart.
8th: Focus on the good things in life. Stop watching the news. Stay out of deep political discussions about the degradation of our society. Watch funny movies, old televisions shows, videos of animals and little children. Better yet get away from the electronic devices all together. Get yourself outside and soak up some vitamin D.
9th: Cry. It’s cleansing. It’s restorative. It releases healing and painkilling hormones. I didn’t believe this either but it’s true. Let go of the guilt trips that you put on people for whatever reason. I learned how to use guilt trips from my mother who did it do me, but that didn’t mean that I needed to let it continue. Let go of the negative impact of dealing with the stress of your life. It all comes down to that anyways. How we deal with the stresses in our lives can have a negative or a positive impact on our lives and those around us.
10th: Those of us who live with pain every day know that it’s going to be there with every step, every breath, and every movement. Resolve to be stronger than the pain. This is by far the most difficult yet most needed. Once you have this resolve within you, your strength in doing the everyday tasks like getting dressed, making your food, and taking care of the people in your life gets that much stronger.
I had a few months of almost no pain thanks to a new chiropractic technique. But last Monday that all changed when the pain came back with a vengeance to wreak havoc to my entire body yet again. I know it stems from the whatever diagnoses the medical professionals think I have now. In my head, it doesn’t really matter what name it has and I’m not even searching for a diagnosis anymore because the last one they said is rare enough. I won’t take the medication they offer anymore than I would drink poison.
I can’t always do the things I want to do in the same way I did them before but I’m learning new ways to accomplish them. I am opening myself up for new alternative therapies some are working, some help me maintain, and those that don’t get tossed aside. I’m forgiving myself for all the wrong I did in being a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a friend and will continue to do so, because only One is perfect and I’m not it.
Pain is a great teacher.