Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CHRONIC PAIN

I don't like to talk about this part of my life. If I am not careful, it can become all-consuming. And I do not want it to be woven into my identity. Although I have chronic pain, I don't want people to think of me as a "chronic pain sufferer".

But I cannot shake the gnawing feeling that I'm supposed to write about it. I hope someone is blessed by this message. If you suffer from chronic pain, and maybe more importantly, if you know of someone who does, I am writing this for you. But honestly, it's also for me. Perhaps this rough stretch I am experiencing will relent because I am respecting the quiet voice whispering to my spirit, "Write about your pain."

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia twenty years ago. My symptoms were vague ~ generalized pain, widespread flu-like achiness, and chronic fatigue. I was a mom with young children when I was diagnosed. I knew I had to find ways to cope. But I wanted to do more than cope; I longed to rise above it. I was especially concerned for my family. I didn't want anyone to suffer or feel cheated because mom was in constant pain. Over time, I learned about balance ~ when to push myself, and when to rest. I also began to grasp what a HUGE gift it was to have a relatively pain-free day.

Over the course of twenty years, I have come to recognize the "triggers" and do what I can to minimize them. But some are beyond my control ~ like the weather,  illnesses, accidents, and surgeries. I have fine-tuned factors such as diet, supplements, and exercise. All three help to minimize the pain when I am not under the influence of an uncontrollable trigger.

Today, I sit in our living room, engulfed in one of my worst flare-ups. Ever. Everything hurts, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Even the simplest movements hurt ~ going to the bathroom, swallowing, breathing. And I have to say, I am so SICK of the pain. Enough!

"This too shall pass." Oh, the healing balm of those words. My mom spoke them to me so often when I was growing up. They still keep me going. I know that better days await me. And I know there has to be some element of purpose in all of the pain. I don't believe we are allowed to blaze this trail for no reason. It is this belief that empowers me to find the hidden gifts that come through the rugged path of chronic pain.

Are you suffering? I know your journey! I walk it too. Is a loved one in the grips of chronic pain? If so, I pray my words will speak directly to your heart, and give you a better understanding of what it's like for us. I hope you will join me as I share about some of those hidden treasures I have found tucked inside my pain. They are there, my friend. I promise.

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." ~M. Kathleen Casey

"Thorns and stings
And those such things
Just make stronger
Our angel wings."
~Terri Guillemets
            

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