At every given moment, my entire body is in pain.
Walking, getting dressed, putting on my makeup, typing up this article, crooking my little finger at you…it all hurts. Everything hurts. All of the time.
But I could calmly sit across from you and tell you that right now, my pain is approaching a seven out of ten.
I could calmly tell you that my joints are pulsing, my arms and legs are burning with a fire that is never extinguished, and the fatigue, well, don’t even get me started on that!
I could smile at you as I said all of this, laugh, probably grimace a little at the irony of it all, then go back to smiling.
I could calmly tell you that despite the pain, I have worked today.
I met a friend for coffee and lost myself in the joys of chatter, cake and a cuppa tea for a couple of hours. I even went to the beach for a long soak in the ocean.
Because I can.
It doesn’t make me brave to be able to tell people this. It’s not a badge of honour that I wear.
It doesn’t mean people should jump to conclusions about my pain thresholds or the ‘realness’ of my situation.
It doesn’t make me the poster girl for inspiration because I can somehow function under high levels of pain when there are others who can’t.
It’s simply my reality.
I take calculated risks – the analysis that goes on in my head before I undertake anything cannot be underestimated – and I make informed choices everyday to live fully, balancing treatments and chronic pain management.
I’m not a sucker for punishment. I don’t enjoy making my pain worse.
But I do enjoy being able to live my life on my terms.
And the way I see it, pain isn’t a deal breaker or barrier for me to live my best life.
“As long as you make an identify for yourself out of pain, you cannot be free of it.”
– Eckhart Tolle.
I came across an article last week on The Mighty by Meghan Bayer, “Why I do things that make my chronic pain worse,“ that goes to the very heart of this matter.
I was fist-pumping and yelling ‘YES!’ as I read Meghan’s piece.
I completely understand why she does the things she does on a daily basis and why she embarks on exciting adventures that can cause days, weeks or even months of consequences.
There isn’t a whole lot of other choice available when this is your lot in life!
That’s right, 11 years.
I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to not be in pain.
The scary part is no longer the pain itself, it is the knowledge that the pain may never stop.
The knowledge that I will still be hurting tomorrow, will probably be hurting in a year, and will quite possibly be hurting for the rest of my life.
Not exactly a thrilling prospect, now is it?
Which is exactly why chronic pain can’t be the obstacle that stops me from living my best life.
As Meghan so eloquently put it, “So if we sit around waiting for the pain medications to kick in or our pain to break completely, we are wasting valuable time in our short lives for relief that may never come.”
So the way I see it, I can either sit at home, feel sorry for myself and be all-consumed by the pain, or I can make the best of my situation and do the things that make me happy.
Even if the things that make me happy also make my pain worse.
Happy and in chronic pain or extremely unhappy and in chronic pain?
I’ve made my choice. What is yours?
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