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Saturday, February 28, 2015

That Elusive Silver Lining

I have been living with chronic pain for the last 15 years. At that point in my life, if you would have told me that I was going to reach a point in my life where pain was my constant companion, I would have told you you were crazy!   I was mother to three small boys, a wife to a man to with a progressive neurological disorder, and I thought life was pretty good.  And then one day, I bent over to pick up a piece of paper, and life was never the same. For three years, I endured physical therapy (which didn't help), epidural injection after epidural injection, and I did everything the doctor's told me to do, praying all the while that the next thing would work.

After many doctors, and three long years, I finally found a doctor who knew what was wrong with me.  The doctor was quite honest about the surgery I was going to have.  He explained everything in detail and made sure that I understood the risks as well as the benefits.  One of the things he told me was that there was only a 50/50 chance that the surgery would work.  I told him that I would take my chances.  When you live with pain for any extended length of time, you become willing to do anything if there is a ghost of a chance that it will give you relief.

Well, I had six good months.  At the end of that six month period, the pain returned with a vengeance.  I had to leave a job I loved.  I felt like a failure as a mother.  I worried about how I was going to take care of my husband when I couldn't even take care of myself.  I fell into a very deep depression, and even attempted suicide.  I spent two weeks in a mental health care facility, and I thank God for that everyday.

One of the things that I dealt with at time is feeling that I didn't know who I was anymore.  I wasn't the bread winner any longer; I wasn't the proverbial soccer mom that I wanted to be; taking care of my husband and my home became more and more difficult.  So many of the things that I saw myself as were snatched away from me, and there was nothing there to replace it.  I felt that I was simply drifting in the ocean, with no shore insight.

In time, I learned to let go of the person I was in the past.  I had to acknowledge my grief as I said goodbye to the person that I lost.  It was an extremely painful process, but I'm here on the other side.  Of course, there are still days when I want my old self back, but I realize now that there is only a slim chance that I will go back to the way things were.  I am learning to love the new me, and to accept her limitations.

I have noticed that I can be very short with some people.  There are days when my patience is non-existent.  I now have a tendency to say exactly what I'm thinking.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  I have developed a much thicker skin, and I count that among my positive changes.  Before all of this, an unkind word could devastate me.  Now, even though words do hurt, I can usually let it go.

We've all heard the old saying that every cloud has a silver lining. I had begun to believe that none of the clouds around me had been fitted for there silver lining.  And then I decided to count my blessings instead of lamenting all the bad things that had happened to me.  I realized that I had reserves of strength that I never realized I had.  Anyone who lives with chronic pain knows how strong you have to be in order to survive.  I still have a family who loves me, and for the most part, understands what I'm going through.  Each of us has a silver lining, even though we may not be able to find.  No matter how elusive your silver lining may be, keep looking for it.  You'll be glad you did.