Don't worry; although it is still tender today, I took it fairly easily yesterday so it's not near as bad today.
But I was thinking about a man I saw take a fall at my daughter's Tae Kwon Do class on Thursday. He has a history of back pain--had been injured and had to take 15 months off of exercise of any kind. He was just returning to his former life. When he fell, his entire body contorted and he lay on the ground--the cardiac nurse sitting next to me (also waiting for her child) moved into position in case he had some kind of seizure. He went pale and panicky.
I sat with him for a while after he got up and assured everyone that he was okay. He was a little shamefaced at having reacted so strongly --not to actual pain but to the REMEMBRANCE of his pain. He struggled to find the words to explain to me how bad it had been and how much he appreciated being pain-free now. I completely understood.
I was really struck by that fear, though. It made me wonder if it's a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because I have felt that panic at the memory of the chronic pain that zapped all of the good things in my life not so long ago. I have felt that panic and been paralyzed by fear, even though I have been fortunate enough to experience life pain-free again.
It's just hard to explain how debilitating that kind of teeth-clenching, soul-sucking pain can be. It's hard to find words to describe it adequately. And even after the pain leaves us (if we are lucky and I am very lucky,) the pain is such a monster that it leaves little seeds behind in our psyche. It's like the mint I planted two years ago that I freaking CANNOT eradicate now. Little sprigs of it keep popping up. I had to move the whole garden box to get rid of it.
|(That mound of dirt and MINT to the left is where the bed used to be. The box in the front is where we moved it.)|
|From left to right: herbs, peppers, carrots, corn|
The harder thing is knowing how to move the garden box where my pain keeps springing up. Because, yesterday morning, I wanted to curl up in the old spot and let the pain cover me like a blanket, stealing my joy and shutting out everything good.
In a way, it's a good reminder of how far I've come. It's also a reminder of how close to the drain so many people are. Over the past seven months, as I've emerged from the pain fog and begun to live again, I have heard story after story of people who went through something similar and came out on the other side. But I don't really hear stories of people who are actively in the throes of chronic pain and despair. I think maybe this is due to the fact that when one is inside of that pain, it's so loud and so all-consuming, there's no way to talk about it. I know *I* couldn't and you KNOW how wordy *I* am.
It strengthens my resolve to help in some way. I'm still listening for how I'm supposed to do that, but more and more, it seems to me that there are signs pointing toward being a voice for those who have been robbed of their voices by that smothering, all-encompassing pain. I've been thinking a lot about writing my story in hopes that it might help someone somewhere who can hand my work to his/her loved ones and say, "Here. It's like this."
What do y'all think? If you suffer from chronic pain, would it help to read something like that? Would it be inspirational to hear the story of someone who found her way out of it, or would it be like salt in the wound of your own pain? If you don't suffer from chronic pain, would that kind of a story inspire or depress you? Would you even read it at all? What if it was sort of funny because it was coupled with the story of how a Texas gal found herself transplanted to New York, grew some tomatoes, got a puppy, and found yoga?