Sunday, July 24, 2011

Worn down by the fight against Pain

Being in the boxing ring with Pain is a full-time job which does not allow for even a second  of catching your breath, stepping away from Pain and re-grouping your fighting tools, so when the bell rings to say "Another round is here; get in and let's rumble" you are physically and mentally ready to march back into the ring. Here lies the problem for people who suffer with Chronic Pain: it's not that simple in thinking there is only one fight a week lined up. Instead, it's an invisible line of Pain, standing there waiting to step up and throw everything Pain can toss at you, showing no mercy or care for the tremendous toll it takes on the body, mind and spirit.

I look in the mirror and do not see "me" as I once did. Yes, I know aging is a factor, but for those of us who are fighting Chronic Pain on a 24-hour basis, the battle scars show up fast! Dark circles under the eyes that are filled to the brim with sadness that can't be spoken so easily to others. If I tell somebody my night was very rough and that I couldn't sleep, they look at me like I'm from outer space or something. The perception is that everybody should be able to sleep through the night and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another day. Pain is not forgiving. All it wants is to rob your body and thrash you to the ground, throw wave upon wave of wicked Pain at you and laugh as Pain sees a person brought to their knees, sobbing with such heartache from their personal fight with this thing called Chronic Pain.

So the next time you come in contact with somebody who is in the Chronic Pain Club, please give them a moment of your heart and give them a soft cushion of love to fall on. Just listen to them and step away from the helplessness you might feel in thinking there is nothing you can do to help.  Showing another human genuine love and affection is the best medicine for those who are in the fight of their lives. We will gladly take the smallest pebble of compassion and hold it tight inside us because you then realize, "I am not alone in this." And by the grace of God, I can dig deeper and find another ounce of super-human courage to keep fighting back.

There are many days on the Pain road where we think joy will never be attainable to us again. But with love from others and simple prayers offered up to help us get through another day of rotten Pain, we then can smile. We can smile for a few moments, exhale and take a deep breath and then dive right back into the Ring of Pain.  

I have a blogging friend who has recently hit that wall of stone that silently waits for us to slam into. I keep repeating this simple truth: "Remember, you were here before Pain showed up in your life" so keep hanging in there and take it one day at a time.

My prayers go out to all who must fight back at Chronic Pain, and keep looking up for joy. It's out there. Maybe not in big amounts but in this journey, the smallest amount of true joy can carry us a long distance in our fight. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is there one perfect way to cure Pain?

In the sixteen years of my journey with Chronic Pain, it is a true statement to say that I have lost count of the many suggestions offered by caring people wanting to see this misery I carry with me go away. Their motives are pure because, in all honesty, it is uncomfortable for us to see our fellow human beings suffering with the silent monster we call Chronic Pain. People whom I have known for years have come up to me and told me, "You look like there's nothing wrong so what's going on with you?"

At first, I was angry. But then I realized it does no good to let anger rule. So I began the process of trying to put a face to my particular Pain and within seconds, it was obvious nobody understood when I talked about scar tissue wrapping around the sciatic nerve and how the burning feeling of fire going down my leg and landing at my foot, never stopping to give me a second to catch my breath but instead taking over my leg and trashing it out with Pain. How can you tell someone about the heating pad burn marks on your back because I would finally fall asleep in exhaustion from nights of Pain upon Pain, not realizing the heating pad was still on and cooking my backside.

Finally a day came while I was at church, waiting for services to begin, and in a small area where I helped the priest get ready for the service, and didn't realize I had been physically hitting my upper thigh area over and over again. A nice gentleman was in the room and asked me, "Isn't there something you can do to make that Pain go away?" It wasn't the statement he made, but deep frustration inside me that opened a desk drawer to grab a small tiny hammer and started pounding away on my leg! I felt so foolish, and his look was saying "she really has lost her grip." All I wanted to do was cry in desperation, but I held my emotions in check and made light of what he had witnessed.

It's hard enough fighting the battle of Chronic Pain, let alone learning to be a mini-version of a doctor, prepared with all your own personal documentation so you can explain "the problem" and then try to justify why so many different types of treatment for Chronic Pain do not help always. Let's be honest–each person is different. No Pain battle is the same; we each have areas of our body that hurt more, various levels of nerve damage to our legs, back, feet, shoulders. You name it, and one way or another, Pain can get to any part it hasn't reached yet.

I will never stop a person from offering their suggestions about my Chronic Pain treatment because they are taking the time to care, face my Pain up close and see what toll it takes.  One good friend tells me, "Your face always tells me what type of day you are having. The Pain really does show." She is right. I am unable to cover the dark circles under my eyes or the bone weary look inside them, or the slower walk I take when Pain is on the run, dragging me along with it.

If there were just one perfect way to cure Pain, I believe there would be a Line of Chronic Pain suffering people that would stretch for miles, all lining up to grab hold of the perfect cure! If we can give ourselves a moment to think past the Pain, we might see how people are being educated by us because not everyone can describe with perfect clarity which Pain medication helps, what anti-inflammatory drug works, where the great Pain Management Clinics are at and all the various Pain conditions we either deal with or learn about from others walking this same Path we are on.

My hope is for all those suffering with Chronic Pain to be in the driver's seat with you being the leader. Pain does not like to be ruffled, dulled, moved around, and certainly never likes to be wiped out. So give your Pain a run for its money. Fight with everything you have, dealing with the Pain issue at hand, and not losing precious energy in the hunt for a perfect cure. For me, I simply look up and ask His help. Do not be afraid to ask people you know to Pray for you. Thank them, walk away and who knows, you might be surprised at the results of that one simple request, "Please pray for me," powerful and humble words from the heart.

Hang in there to all who are suffering. Keep fighting back so you find a simple moment of joy. Today I was able to make a grocery store trip and my joy came when I saw my dear husband trying to balance two watermelons, one determined to fall out of his grip, but he made it. It was a fun moment!

God bless every person battling with Chronic Pain. Please know there is a prayer said by me each night for all of you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everybody has to struggle, some more than others

Living with Chronic Pain is like having a "monkey" that does a wicked dance on your back all the time, and it gets old–fast! Yet everyday life is all around us, and no matter what, we must make some attempt to keep moving. I have a dear friend whose husband suffers terribly from Chronic Pain and it's almost as if we have become "Pain Wi-Fi Linked." That's because I can be having a wicked day of Pain and will call to check on him...yep, he is hurting just as bad, if not worse. My heart aches for him, and we always end our conversation by telling each other "hang in there, remember I am praying for you." And somehow, without it being spoken, we know those prayers are being said and, more importantly, are being heard. It gives us a breath of hope to keep pushing on through the pain. I can tell when the weather is getting ready to change, long before it ever gets here. If a storm is beginning to stir, the barometric pressure rising makes my Pain soar through the roof, and it does not let up until the weather finally hits. My Pain friend is exactly the same, which makes one realize how amazing the human body is. Long ago, injuries to my body that can predict weather changes is something I did not plan for, and there are times when I feel like calling the local TV weather people and telling them, "You have it wrong! Just ask my leg and back. Now this is when the weather is really going to arrive!"

Another friend I met through blogging shares with me how intense her Pain gets, so much that even ordinary chores like getting the groceries out of the car forces her to leave some bags for later as it's all she can do to get inside and stop. She is doing everything humanly possible to cope with such horrible Pain. She is another Prayer partner because I pray each night for her, and she prays for me. One might think this is not that much help, but in the darkest hours of the night, when the house is silent and it's just you and Pain, every single moment of Prayer is vital in holding on. For me, it keeps me fighting, staying determined to keep Pain from taking every single bit of me away. After all, I was here before Pain stepped into my life, and I am going to stay!

So for all of you who must suffer with this thing called Chronic Pain, keep pushing forward and cherish each small victory you achieve, no matter what it is. A short walk, doing the dishes, bringing in just one bag of groceries, going to a movie...just keep looking UP and reaching for your moment of Joy. It's worth the struggle. You are always in my prayers.

Monday, July 4, 2011

This DAY is always tough

The Fourth of July is usually a day of picnics, fun and firework displays. Simply a day in which we relax and, hopefully at some point in the day, give THANKS for all this country has.

I feel all those things and MORE on this particular day because it also brings a very painful reminder for my husband and myself. On July 4, 1990, an intruder broke into the home of my 80-year-old mother-in-law and proceeded to stab her six times and beat her terribly. She passed from this earth within minutes of the first initial stab wound, and she did NOT deserve to die such a death.

Within an hour of this horrendous crime, the suspect was caught and two years later given the death penalty for his sentence. Sixteen years later, we received a call that he had been granted a new trial and there we sat again, fearing to face all those memories played out in a courtroom. By the grace of God and countless prayers, just days before a new trial was scheduled to start, he confessed to numerous other crimes and agreed to a life sentence in prison.

NO, it does not make up for the loss of this wonderful woman who was so much more to me than a mother-in-law; she was my dear friend. I miss her each day and can't truly begin to understand how hard it is for my husband, but we have found our way through this by leaning on God and each other. She would want us to keep moving and also to try hard and work on forgiveness. That's not easy to do, plain and simple.

So today I noticed my back and leg pain seemed worse, and as the day wore on, I kept wondering WHY. Where was this added Pain coming from? A dear friend of mine had dropped by to help me with my computer, and we heard fireworks go off. Knowing how dry our land is due to this severe drought, concern arose quickly about a fire. Luckily, the sounds stopped fast, and she made a comment about this always happening on the Fourth of July. It hit me like a ton of bricks because TODAY long ago was a NIGHTMARE day, and I commented to her about it. Her reaction was so comforting, and the fact she was here helping me stay busy said everything.

My husband and I haven't talked about this day much. After all, we both KNOW what is on our minds. All the words in the world can't undo what happened. But as we continue through our lives together, we hear other horrible stories of people losing their loved ones to a vicious and senseless crime. Being a victim of crime is never easy, but you keep moving.

I pray for all those lost to senseless acts of crime and for their families. But most especially on this day, I pray for my husband and his family, that our Lord will continue working in their lives and helping each one of them to cope as best they can. Life is never easy. Things come at you quickly and hard. Maybe the TEST is seeing how we cope with these tough trials, and in turn how we then can maybe help someone else facing the same heartbreak.

God bless.