Unapologetic and Living With Chronic Pain

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It’s been with me for so long that I forget who I was before my Chiari diagnosis. The pain-free, care-free days are behind me. I have enough pain meds too embarrassing to say. There are days I want to go on without them – and feel human.

As time has gone by I’ve realized how much time I’ve spent trying to make others understand the depth of my chronic pain. I can’t change the way people perceive my illness, my diagnosis, my feelings, my physical limitations, nothing! The ‘ole ‘but you don’t look sick’ gets old quick. I know myself, what my day to day looks like, and I, myself know exactly what I have to live with – and that is enough.

There’s are certain feelings of guilt that come with chronic pain. The guilt of not being the mom I want to be, the wife I want to be, the daughter, friend, etc. and not living to peoples expectations of who they want me to be.

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I am not physically able and available and that is nothing I should continue to be ashamed of. I can’t be present in others lives as much as I’d like – or at all. I am physically unable to do many things, and only desire to push myself to my limits for my children, my family – no one else. Others expectations should not affect me, the Instagram worthy pictures of family outings should no longer tug at my heart, yearning those days to return to my own life. This is my perfect life, I am perfectly chronically in pain and will continue to be until my days end. I’m not sorry for others not understanding what I live with. I’m only sorry I’ve spent so much time convincing them my words and behavior are due to the constant struggle of battling with chronic pain while being positive. I will not allow others to cut me with their words. There is no need for excuses, I’m struggling and I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my absence.

Because no one is worth allowing them to break me down.

Happy Saturday.

A-

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Brain Surgery May 9, 2013 – Chiari Malformation

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May 9, 2013 is marked within the deepest part of her soul. 

It’s only brain surgery they said.

8 hours into a place of the unknown, she drifted to a deep sleep. 

You never know who or what may change your life – until it does.

And the 8 hours are up, she awakes to a new life – a life of chronic pain that can only been seen in her face.

It’s an invisible illness they said. 

She struggles to maintain her composure.

How does one live with pain, deep pain, pain that doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t stop to ask you your name.

SHE does, she struggles, she cries, she hurts, she screams, she writes, she draws, she smiles, because when time doesn’t stop, she can’t stop.

And when she asks for help, he says, I can’t take the pain, but I can give you something for the pain.

She continues to scream the silent scream.

Be grateful, be thankful – they say.

But when one has no other choice but to be strong, then strong she is. 

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and being that our mental health is just as important as your physical health, I encourage you to get screened, get help or ask for help. There are both adults and children going through some type of mental illness – break the stigma, it’s not bad, you’re not crazy and you can get better by getting help.

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Photo: Max van den Oetelaar

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“Hang In There”

I suspect you already know that with every chronic illness come a few doctors appointments – or many. I had to see my doctor recently as the pain in my neck doesn’t get any better and the medication was running low, so back I went to see my Neurologist. There is a strange thing that happens but with each MRI comes a new result. In reviewing my last MRI on his monitor I noticed a curve on top of my neck in the shape of a letter ‘C’ you could say. But we simply continued talking and moved on. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and asked him about it. He said a curve like that is normal say on an 80 year old, but not on someone my age. The two surgeries I’ve had, the first in 2013 and the other on 2017, both have been entered through the back of my neck, so my neck has taken quite a bit. The result, it’s caused the top part of my spine to collapse – hence the letter ‘C’ shape, the other result, pain, the remedy, more medicine. We will try a new medication to manage the pain and come back to revisit the issue. I thanked him for his time and as I’m leaving he says, “hang in there.”

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Those simple words have taken over my mind. How many times does something unprecedented happened? And you, “hang in there” or you have absolutely no choice but to do just that?! Aren’t we all doing just that for different reasons, for the sake of your own sanity, because you’re going through a break up, a job loss, marriage issues, financial issues, whatever the case maybe, you’re “hanging in there.”

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As anger wanted to creep up inside me, I thought of hope. The word hope. The hope that this will continue to help me gain patience for myself and my body, and hope that I will continue to live life, this new life with much gratitude, the life with physical pain, but life nonetheless.

A-

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