Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Pain...

"Given the choice between experiencing pain and nothing, I would choose pain."
                                                                                                                      ~William Faulkner

I have had to think long and hard about this post.  Not because I don't have anything to write on the topic of pain, but because I have always been taught to suck it up and walk it off.  I am an emotionally-intense person, but one thing I was never supposed to do is let someone see me hurting. I once walked on a broken foot (broken in seven different places) for a week before seeing the doctor.

As you can imagine, the experience of the past three years has been eye-opening.  I dealt with more physical and emotional pain than at times I could bear.  People would tell me that it was all just making me stronger.  I wanted to punch them in their faces.

Pain is an interesting sensation.  It is always a warning--that something is causing us distress or torture.  I remember watching an episode of the BBC Sherlock series, and remarking at the limp that Dr. Watson produced.  It all came from psychosomatic feelings he hadn't dealt with.  I thought that it was foolish, but part of me knows that such a thing can be very real.  Over the past few years, I attributed much of my physical pain to an emotional wound that needed time to heal.

I know being physically attacked is never a field day.  Being emotionally injured during that time was a second blow.  Add to that the vulnerability and lack of security that goes with not working, and I was a mess.  I remember at my worst I was on Percocet 10's four times a day, with tramadol buffers.  I was on valium, muscle relaxers, and tons of seizure meds.  I honestly don't remember much of a year of my life.  I wonder now if I would have survived if I was really aware of all that was happening.  I remember talking to a therapist that told me the mind only lets you deal with so much of a trauma or memory at a time.  I think the medicine and my mind did a good job of keeping me from losing my sanity.

In summer of 2011, all of the medicines stopped.  I decided that I was going to overcome everything now that I was starting a new teaching job.  My mobility had improved significantly, and I knew my emotional health was looking great.  I thought I could take on the world!!

What I forgot was that I would have pain the rest of my life.  It was a reality I had to accept.  I could pretend that I was a magical creature that found a cure, but that would be deceiving myself.  It always drives me crazy when parents deny their child has a disability.  Now I understand it--I was trying to mourn the fact that I would not have that "normal" life everyone else had.  I was shortchanged, and I tried to prove something to myself by going cold turkey.

By September, I can remember showing up to my doctor in misery.  I hadn't slept in weeks, and I honestly could barely move.  The hardest part about the pain is that no one could see it.  I didn't have a broken leg or a black eye.  And I pretended like everything was normal so no one at my new job would learn my secrets.

The doctor wondered why on earth I had gone off the medications.  I told her I was out to prove something, and had failed miserably.  So, we started back on some light stuff, knowing that was going to make me a functioning human being.  I liked the sound of "functioning."

I got back into running, and have really enjoyed my experiences.  With the help of my trainer, Jesse, I have been able to make incredible progress!  I will not lie- I have been in terrible pain every day.  I have two leg surgeries coming up, but I really want to make good progress before I am side-lined.  

I will admit to something though: sometimes feeling pain is all that makes me feel alive.  I know it sounds completely strange, but it is when I feel the results of a run that I feel most alive.  Maybe it is because I went through a few years where I felt NOTHING.  Maybe because I know in a few years I will not be able to feel this pain again.  I don't want to sound like a freak, but it is when I am sore and hurting that I feel the most alive.  I guess that is because I know I have pushed my body to do something it couldn't do, and may never do again.

I look back at the times where I was numb to the world, and look to the future and the scariness it holds. I think to myself, if given the choice, I would most definitely choose to feel the pain.

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