So, yesterday I was in some serious pain from my messed up foot.  I overdid it during the week and got lazy with doing the exercises that keep my foot supple.

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.)
The good news is that the garden box is in a new and sunnier place and will yield corn and carrots for us this summer, which weren't possible in the old place.
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?


Damsel said…
While I'm not a chronic pain sufferer, I AM a put-my-two-cents-in-anyway girl.

I think you should write your story for YOU. You could write it with the mind set that you are helping someone else, sure. However, you are a writer. You process things by writing, and it's illustrated by this post that you still have some processing to do with respect to your FULF.

Write away, girlfriend. Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say.
Unknown said…
definitely write it.
Annabanana said…
Please, it will help - your gut told you that already, didn't it? :-) I've got a neck pain 4am thing going on, and ended up in ER this weekend because I could do nothing but roll on the floor and moan from the pain. And you are right, you are left with the fear of it's return, little seeds of mint in the garden. Every day, every twinge....the book will help chronic pain sufferers know they are not alone, and that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
tanita✿davis said…
I have a chronic illness which doesn't always cause me pain, but it causes me some -- I would read a story you wrote, simply because you wrote it, like Damsel said, but also because I would remind myself This too shall pass, and See? She managed... and all that kind of thing... sometimes the only voices you can hear in that dark place are the voices who know where you've been.
Marion Gropen said…
Write it. Write the HELL out of it.

I agree with everyone else here, that it will help both chronic pain sufferers and those who love them.

But, as you know, I'm a book person. And this is an underserved, EASILY FOUND market. It has great potential for bulk sales to pharmaceutical companies, for distribution through doctors' offices (especially if you happen to mention a relatively new and effective treatment!).

As a book publishing person, I can tell you that this is one that can make money. And that means that it can be published.

And THAT means that you can then reach the people who need to hear what you have to say.

So, yes, write that book. Now.

Oh, and I don't know if you have noticed that BEA is here in NYC on May 24, 25, and 26 at the Javits Center. 20,000 book publishing people in one room talking about the next big things in the world of books. Ya gotta love it.

Get thyself a ticket to it, a multi-day one, so that when your foot starts to hurt you can go to the car and leave, but come back the next day.

And you should think about attending the IBPA's Publishing University the two days before. Focus on the marketing and social media classes, so that you can put together the right info for the proposal and query you'll do on that book.
Miri said…
I just love the encouragement you've received here. And I just love the concept. Write it for my daughter, Sarah, and others like her, because you are an inspiration whatever you do and because it would make some sense out of the senselessness that chronic pain can sometimes seem.
Karen said…
I know people have chronic pain but I never really got it until I started reading you. If you can make me see what it's like, you can make anyone - and I think people surrounding those who have chronic pain probably need to be led to understand what it's like for the suffering one.

So yes, write it. With better sentence structure than I used here in this comment.
Lomagirl said…
do it! And write about what motherhood is like with the pain, too.
And yes, make it funny, so people with pain can find some relief in laughter. And make it about real life because part of living with chronic pain is that life does go on and has to be dealt with- right?
Judy said…
Wow - you must be swooning from all this encouragement and joy and really good suggestions to make a plan and execute it. I'm so happy for you. Truly all things are gifts from our Creator. How has your FULF made you a better person? Clearly it has - Compassion is such a valuable commodity. I never did read the story of how it happened - is there a blog on it somewhere? Sending hugs galore!
Barb Matijevich said…
Thank you all so much. I am really listening to your suggestions and really beginning to think that this is something I can (and even should!) do. @Judy, if you click on the words "messed up foot" in the first line of the post, it should take you to a link that explains the story (in Reader's Digest form.)

Again, thank you all so much. You've given me a world of things to think about and anentire universe to hope for!

Tiny Tyrant said…
Write it. I've been a chronic pain sufferer and while I hate the surgery I need to correct it, I'm very grateful the pain is wrong.

But I had a very hard time trying to explain to others, spouse included, just how the pain was.

I don't think it's something anyone can understand if they haven't gone through it.
mamabeth said…
Barb - I have had lower back and sciatic pain for most of the last 45 years, the result of an old football injury. Seriously. In junior high, some friends and I were playing touch football when my older cousin decided to tackle rather than touch. Messed my back up and I've had pain ever since. People who don't have chronic pain have no idea just how life-sapping it can be. It's such a relief to know there are people (you!) who really understand the pain I endure. So yes, my dear. PLEASE write your story...and publish! MamaBeth from Shreveport
Katie said…
O Barb! CP is of the devil. We hates it. I have been in the depths lately because of it.

Write it. Write it.