I recently stumbled on a high school notebook filled with Anatomy and Physiology notes. I really enjoyed that class but I couldn't understand why in the world I hung on to this notebook. When I opened the notebook the notes on pain were dog eared. My Anatomy and Physiology teacher had spent years researching pain, and therefore a lot of these notes were pretty extensive about which nerves are responsible for transmitting pain, and the various biochemical reactions. However the thing that caught my eye was "chronic pain = bad."
It was in a section of notes comparing the difference between acute pain and chronic pain, discussing the lack of homeostasis involved with chronic pain. I immediately started laughing and told Adam apparently I held on to this notebook for years, for this moment. A moment when I could laugh at how simple I found life, how easily I split things up into black and white. That moment when I could laugh that chronic pain sucks, but it not necessarily "bad."
I think it is safe to say I have a bit of experience with chronic pain at this point, so what does it equal? I could still discuss the biochemical reactions, the nerves transmitting signals, which parts of the brain interpret those signals, ect...
However chronic pain = pain, it is not good or bad, yes it might mean some part of the body is not functioning like it used to, but that doesn't mean it is bad or broken. It means that I take care of myself differently then I used to, it means I have additional information about what my body needs and how to treat myself. To be honest it also provides me motivation to move, to keep going and to continue pressing on. I have reprogrammed my mind, I have decided that pain does not mean I am bad, and I continue to execute that program everyday.
Sadly this is not a skill that "I can set and forget,". It is a skill that is tested time and time again, it is the skill of accepting personal authority. No one can tell me, it is okay to push it or it is okay to rest; no one can tell me the impact that will have on my well-being. Each and every day is a new day, and I get to decide what to do, sometimes I need to talk it through, sometimes I ask for advice but in the end I make the decision. I make the decision which workout to do each day, which foods to eat and what to do with my time.
The day my doctor gave me my diagnosis was pretty unsettling however at the same time I remember feeling hope, the hope that I could do something. Hope that I could help my body, it was information that would lead me to be able to live an amazing life again. That day my doctor gave me back my authority to relearn to take care of myself, she helped me see that I just had to gather additional data to navigate my life.
Yes I smile through the pain and I laugh at the little jokes provided by my past because I have hope and I keep my focus on gaining more skills in taking care of myself and learning how that will help others.
Question of the day: What is an equation you once believed that has been rewritten? How has your personal experience expanded the world from black and white to multi-colored?