My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sorority of Suffering and Other Good Things About Pain

By this time two years ago, I had a pretty good idea that the back pain I started having that January was not a short-term problem. At that time, I began to accept this new "lot in life" and that has helped a lot over the last month while my ability to function has decreased. 

I'm on new meds to help the pain but the new meds have lots of unpleasant side effects that bring their own bag of troubles to the party. Then you have to sort of sort out in your mind if the side effects are side effects or symptoms. I am determined not to call the doctor to ask because he'll want me to come in again and see him this month and I just really can't afford it. 

And of course, getting whacked upside the head with a head cold was NOT on my bucket list. I don't know if there are any studies to back this up but I'm convinced that people who struggle with chronic pain are more greatly impacted by colds and flu. It's almost like you use up all your tolerance on the day to day junk and have no ability to deal with anything else. Let me tell you, I've been in full on misery for the past two-three days. Pop, Marquee and Cody have all dealt with this as well and Pop and Marquee seem to be on the upswing of it so maybe it is just a brief deal. 

I just have to hope it doesn't settle in my lungs. I'm constantly coughing up green slime, even when I'm "well" due to the granulomatic thing-a-ma-jig. Once my lungs become involved we're up for a bout of bronchitis and ain't nobody got time for that!

Add to that this sunburn like pain from over-exposure to the heating pad... just another one of those "to be expected" deterioration of sensitivity issues that I knew would happen sometime but am still frustrated when it happens. Without the heating pad I get horrible muscle spasms... there's so much numbness from my waist down that I don't feel the heat as warmly as it really is. I stayed off of it for the past two days and just relied on muscle relaxers and rest but all the red streaks on my back have faded to burgundy/brownish streaks - just like a sunburn turns to a little tan after a few days for me - so I'm using it again, carefully, on low. 

 Even at the risk of being labeled, "Wendy Whiner", I know that there is a Sorority of Silent Suffering out there... people who hurt in a way that nobody else quite understands or believes... and I want my Sisterhood to be able to find a way to keep moving forward even when it seems impossible. I feel like transparency is the only way to connect with others who feel the kind of pain I do... and I want people to be encouraged to speak up and say, "this really stinks" or whatever expletive serves your purpose best. The point of this blog entry was to talk about the ways that I'm grateful for the pain. because I think everything in life brings both good and bad and if we're so short sighted that we only see the bad, we'll miss out on life's greatest blessings and lessons. That's what I want to see and what I want to share with you. 

1. I was never a world traveler. I'm used to being a couch potato and a homebody so I don't really grieve not being able to roam the wide world. I'm not missing out.

2. When I feel like I'm missing out, all I have to do is log onto travel websites or travel blogs or watch Rick Steves on PBS or the Travel Channel. How blessed I am to have a window on the world!

3 People, some people anyways, DO get it. There are a lot of really concerned compassionate people in my life like my little aunt who said she wished she could take the pain from me for a few hours so I could have a break from it.

4. I do get a break from it... for a few hours every night... when the meds kick in at full force and I fall asleep. I eventually wake up with cramps and muscle spasms and crazy pain but there are a few blissful hours where I can escape. 

5. Pain has humbled me. It has helped me to understand people on a different level. It has made me understand that some of the people who come across as bitter and mean are really just people who are suffering in some way. I have learned that people don't have to be in a wheelchair or hospital bed to be legitimately uncomfortable. 

6. Pain has shown me who my real friends are. Once I lost the ability to be mobile and spontaneous, I really narrowed my world significantly. There are precious few people who want to just hang out with a couch potato, especially if that means they have to commute either up to the mountains or down to the 'burbs. It's not that I don't still love the folks who can't meet me where I am and it's not that I think they stopped loving me... I just understand more about their level of commitment to me and I appreciate the ones who come to me more than words can say. Like Stasha who would drop in unexpectedly and just curl up on my bed and chat... and Gina who drove all the way to Helen to spend a day with me..and a couple of other folks who hung out with me in the mountain house...  those visits are divine appointments to me.

7. I've learned to let go of the guilt. At first I would agree to do things, hoping against hope that I could manage and then when I couldn't and had to back out or not show up, I felt so guilty. There was a time that I felt guilty about not being able to work full time. I've felt guilty about not being there for my kids as much as I wanted. I've felt guilty for not being able to help much around the house and the burden I've placed on others but you know what? Apart from criminal or immoral activities, guilt is a burden we choose to pick up on our own. Nobody can give it to you unless you agree to accept it. I choose not to accept it. I am who I am, not by my own choice but by fate and all I can do is all I can do. 

8. I waste a lot less money due to pain. I used to eat out a lot, spend a lot of money doing stuff and buying stuff, especially groceries that would go to waste because I ended up not feeling like cooking. I don't go to movies or concerts or amusement parks or museums or malls.... if it involves walking, I'm probably not doing it unless absolutely necessary. 

9. I go to the Rite Aid a lot and am a gold member of their membership club which means I get 20% off everything in the store. This helps a lot. I'm also able to use a drug discount card which saves me a good bit off my meds. I'm in there so much that I catch a lot of things when they get marked down which explains the huge stuffed frog and huge stuffed gorilla that I have on my bed now. 

10. I have learned what an amazing family I have. From unbelievable financial assistance to things like that sweet comment my aunt made about taking my pain... I feel wrapped in a cocoon, like there is a safety net below my high wire act, like I am safe and secure and cared for, no matter what happens to me. Cody and Marquee and Mom will come in my room and hang out with me. Pop picks up my favorite things at the grocery store. Mom scoops the cat poop. I have not just one but two comfy, cozy places to live and I am never lonely. 

I could probably write another ten and maybe I will later. This is long enough! I just want to encourage you, if you're feeling like nobody *gets you*, like you're alone on the planet, like your burden is just too heavy, stop and look around for the good things. Even if you can only list one - you're still breathing - then start there and work your way up to more and more good things. Keep your focus on the happy. 

The latest update on my Uncle is that he is doing great. He may be moved out of ICU as early as Monday. He is a little confused - probably because of the meds - but he is definitely improving. Continue to keep Uncle Charles and Aunt Linda in your prayers. 

Have a great weekend, y'all! Love and hugs!