Living with chronic pain changes you. It changes you to your core.
In my case, I’d been living with it for years before surgery with it worsening just prior to and since. At first, the bouts of pain caught me off guard and I tried to shrug it off—just a passing thing, I thought. It wasn’t. Slowly, I began to change the way I did things hoping not to ‘set off’ the searing knife-like pain. Over time, it began to seep into my everyday mindset. Without fully realizing it, I no longer walked the same, sat the same, slept the same. worked the same, rested the same, or made the same plans because of the ‘what if’. It became me and I became it. There was no separation. I felt as though I had no control. I knew I was becoming a different person yet, I never really understood the breadth of how it enveloped my whole being. I was in it. Deep. I tried my darnedest to get out of it to no avail. Everyone I turned to for help and everywhere I went came to a dead end sooner or later. There was a lot of false hope and even a few broken promises along the way that kept me going in circles. I felt hopeless in ever finding resolve. It was NOT a good feeling. AT ALL. But, I kept going. I had to. No one could do it for me or will it to me. It just doesn’t work that way, even thought there were more than a few times I’d wished for both.
Almost three years post-surgery, I am just starting to come out of the painful stupor I have found myself in over the past decade or so. I have a ways to go yet, but I finally see that pinhole of light that I was so desperately searching for. It has come with a lot of hard work physically, spiritually, emotionally and most of all, mentally. My hard work is beginning to pay off and I am beyond grateful for every little victory along the way. Let’s face it—no one wishes for a life full of pain and suffering, nor do they often see it coming until it is there. Right there on your doorstep. I certainly didn’t. People may sympathize with the situation just as I have with others, but there is no way to truly empathize unless you’ve lived it. I know that sounds super cliché and I don’t say that to gain pity from anyone; it just is what it is.
Now that I am coming out of it all, I can tell you a few things. I have learned a lot about myself, about those around me and about how powerful we are as beings in body, mind and spirit. I’ve also learned that I don’t know half of what I thought I knew about life in general. Most importantly, I have an even greater appreciation for all things big and small in the world. Many ‘old’ things/ways seem new somehow. It is like a beginning of sorts, I guess. A beginning I am excited to embark on as the second half of my life’s journey unfolds. I am hopeful again. I am strong. I am resilient. I am all that I need. While I can’t exactly say that I’d happily go through that experience again to be where I am at now or that I wouldn’t have changed a thing along the way, I can say that I am a more enlightened person for it all. For anyone else suffering, hang in there, dig deep within and advocate for yourself like nobody’s business. That pinhole of light is there somewhere. I promise.