Thursday, August 28, 2014

Living Through the Pain

My pain has been stubborn lately, making even the simplest trip to the grocery store or a quick Swiffer over the floor rather tedious. I believe in listening to my body, and I usually do. But sometimes, I push the envelope and live my life as I would anyway. If I refrained from doing what I have planned anytime and every time I felt sick, I would never do anything. And THAT isn't life to me.

I believe this is one of the greatest challenges for anyone with chronic pain. It's finding a happy medium between agony and the general population's normalcy. It's finding a pace that is normal for YOU. And it's the ability to feel at peace with the normalcy you find. As part of the irrational yet absolute guilt I feel for not keeping up with "normal",  it is very hard for me not to apologize for the gap between my normalcy and the normalcy of those who aren't dealing with my health issues. It may sound ridiculous to most, but there is shame associated with the shortcomings brought on by chronic pain.

If I didn't help around the house, go shopping, socialize, etc whenever I feel sick,  I would feel such a sense of failure that, combined with the dishonor I already feel just for BEING ill, I would end up catatonic with disappointment, sadness, and guilt. Guilt for having a life that many would kill for, literally. A life with limbs that move on their own. A heart that beats, eyes that can see, organs that work (at least for the most part.) My body and all its functions are miracles, a recipe for a wonderful life. I am SO blessed, despite my setbacks.

I can't recall the last day I woke up and had no pain. Nor can I recall a day when that pain didn't endure most, if not every hour. The same goes for nausea. I have medications that help those symptoms, but they don't take them totally away. I have no desire to be dependent on medications forever, but for now they are what's getting me by. My hopes are that the upcoming surgery I'm having will greatly help my pain, and I can go from there once I've healed from the operation.

Long before these illnesses came along, I was in therapy for an eating disorder, and we were discussing how I felt that my disorder had set me back on my life's path. My therapist said that life is not a linear journey. We don't start at the same place and move forward. Instead, life is like a spider web; it branches out with each journey, and the web changes. And much like snowflakes, our spider webs are all unique.

This outlook really helped me, because thinking of my life on a linear path leaves me feeling really behind, as though I'm failing. Thinking of the web gives me the feeling that there is hope. My web is still in progress, just not the same way anyone else's is. If I answered to my pain every moment of every day, I would essentially be a statue. I wouldn't move, I wouldn't do anything. So the "normal" I've found is somewhere in between being immobile and dusting tables while standing on my head. It all depends on the day. I'm simply spinning my web set to the music my body plays and trying to be proud.