By Meagan M Jenkins
I think truly for myself, the most exhausting thing in regards to chronic pain is not ever getting a mental break. It is relentless. It is not only mentally exhausting but physically as well. Medically speaking, chronic pain is pain that persists and or progresses over a long period of time.
Chronic Pain can be the result of your body having dealt with a chronic illness or condition for a long period of time without proper care and treatment.
What has Chronic Pain done for me?
Chronic pain has ripped me of a certain “joy” or “happiness” that used to come very naturally. Instead of just being myself, I feel I have to “put on” who I am most days to cover up the pain. It has taught me to always believe in myself and to fight even when I’m standing alone. Chronic pain has taken so much from my life, but it has also added so much value.
Without the constant medical battle, my eyes wouldn’t be as open to the world around me. It has taught me that sometimes fighting blindly is all we can do. It has taught me that, medically, Doctors have advanced so far but what truly lacks is compassion. I have dealt for so long with this lack of compassion and understanding. Fighting Chronic Pain and illness means no one can “see it” or “touch it” and my compassion for others has truly blossomed. I can’t see what happens behind closed doors, I don’t know why the woman in the checkout lane is short with the clerk, or why a doctor can’t explain things to me during my appointment without rushing me out the door. What I do know and what I can see and feel is the pain I fight every day, and it gives me compassion towards the rest of the world because I understand what it is like to be in so much pain and to be “all alone” in it. The way I see it, I can allow my chronic pain to do one of two things: I can allow it to harden my heart and make me resentful or I can choose to make a conscious choice to show love deeply.
I believe it is extremely helpful for others whom fight Chronic Pain to have an outlet: A healthy outlet where you can let it all out. Where you can support one another and build each other up and attend each other’s “pity parties”. One online friend, who is more like family has opened up several groups I feel comfortable shouting out my needs, my disappointments, my struggles and fears to and there is always a quick response from someone. It often offers me a sense of validation, which I don’t often feel anywhere else.
While I firmly believe you need an outlet to just vent and let it all out, I believe it is as equally important to be positive and uplifting.
For myself, my Chronic Pain is Neuropathy in my lower legs and feet. It has unmasked itself and become much more intense since the removal of a pituitary tumor caused by Cyclical Cushing’s. Cyclical Cushing’s is extremely rare and very hard to diagnose. I went over 15 years without a diagnosis which caused my nerves and muscles to be exposed to too much Cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by your adrenal cortex, which then is controlled by your pituitary gland. In Cushing’s patients, the tumor located in either your adrenal gland or pituitary causes your body to produce a toxic amount of cortisol. Toxins in your body for any length of time can cause damage such as Neuropathy and other Chronic Pain. Cyclical Cushing’s is a “cycle” of both highs and lows of cortisol. Some physicians will refer to Cyclical Cushing’s as “mild”, however ANY Cyclical Cushing’s survivor will tell you that there is nothing mild about it.
I believe being there and supporting those with Chronic pain during rough moments and days is so important. Allowing them to vent and let them know they are not alone definitely has offered me comfort during an exhausting breakdown.
I believe the number one thing we can tell someone we love or care about whom is in chronic pain or suffering from a chronic illness is that there is hope, always.