Living with Chronic Pain
From the date (2009), I recognize it an essay I wrote as an assignment for a chronic pain management program in which I was a participant. I recognize that they words, today in 2015, are even more relevant now than they were when I first wrote them.
These words still strongly resonate with me.
New text to this essay is written in bold, italic font.
Living with Chronic Pain
For as far back as I can remember, much of the time I feel physical pain. Sometimes it’s barely noticeable, a momentary discomfort, or a twinge. Other times, I am quite aware of it since it makes me feel uncomfortable and concentration is difficult, but I can work through it and “forge ahead.”
At other times, the pain is quite unbearable. I want to cry out in despair since I feel like someone has run over my entire body with a steamroller. At these times, I am overwhelmed and unhappy and want to ease my suffering. I know the pain will pass, it always does, and that the body can heal itself. Still I sometimes wonder how strong emotionally I must be in order to cope, endure, exist, and to get through these difficult moments.
Often I wonder if I have the strength to continue. I wish for something to harness the helplessness I experience, the rage and anger I have at these times when my body is failing; not living up to, not compiling with what I expect or want it to do. Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have a room full of very expensive and very attractive bone china pieces (tea cups, saucers, plates, bowls, serving pieces, and similar items) that I could just hurl at walls and ceilings to watch them break, shatter, be useless beyond repair because watching the shattered china would please me. The image of the shards would mirror how I sometimes feel.
When these intense painful times pass, and they always have, I feel grateful that I have more chances to continue living, to embrace life, to do what I want and must in order to live my life as richly as possible.
The emotional challenges of disability, combined with my physical challenges, sometimes take a toll. Now and then I am engulfed in feelings of worry, sadness, hopelessness, frustration, or depression. The mind and body are connected and I know the tightness of my limbs, the poor balance, the intense lower backache, and/or an upset stomach is results of emotional and physical disabilities negatively at work.
At such times, I have to remember that I don’t have to look very far to find someone who is worse than I; someone with greater challenges. This only makes me feel somewhat better, but it still is an effective coping mechanism.
I must concentrate on my gifts of which there are many including compassion, warmth, humour, and insight to foster my well being, particularly when I am feeling vulnerable.
My earliest memories are ones of discontent, of unhappiness, of not feeling like I belong in this world. Sometimes these feelings resurface despite the fact that I am nearing half a century of living, of experience, of learning, of sorrows and joys, trials and blessing, weakness and strengths. Naturally, these feelings are not as intense as they were when I was younger given now that it is not as important that I be “normal.” How I despise that word!
I can accept that I must “march to the beat of my different drum,” and “realize that I’m gifted, not weird” and have the courage to follow my own path and dreams. The “round peg” does not fit into the “square hole” no matter how much force is applied. Insight and observation of other humans makes me think that many people might feel as I do and that they, too, are, at times, “misshapen pegs” trying to fit into the wrong “hole.”
I know that despite my challenges, very I am blessed. I have many family members and friends who care deeply for me, and I for them, a very comfortable apartment, a good job, and my hobbies and passions and beloved children’s series book collections.
I wonder of my future? How will I take care of myself as I age? How successfully can I cope with a failing body, greater physical losses, more hardships around mobility, and the continuing challenges of life?
The answers to these questions can come from within me and from the knowledge I seek from those around me. As an example, I can learn to effectively use the resources at my disposal; i.e., the mediation and mindfulness program, the self-help books I gather, the lifestyle changes I wish to implement, and the people within my network of those who are supportive, helpful and encouraging to me. I must accept that I shall come in contact with toxic people, from time to time, and not accept their harmful comments or behaviours within my being. I have the choice, the power, to respond positively to inappropriate behaviour.
I shall recognize the times when the pain is greater than my ability to cope effectively with it. I shall realize this is temporary, and shall do my best to work through it. I shall call upon any resources I need for assistance. I shall pray for strength and change.
I want to live as pain-free as possible and I want to have the strength to cope when pain is present and difficult for me to accept. I want to depend on my gifts and strengths to see me through my darkest times to the sunshine and rainbows that are just barely visible and just barely out of reach.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Anonymous
Date: March 23, 2009
Revised: February 5 2015