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Saturday, January 3, 2009

I am a chronic pain sufferer

I found this site, the Pain Relief Network.

by Ian MacLeod

I am a chronic pain patient. There is no time in my life when I am not in pain. After many years of mistreatment, non-treatment and finally some honest attempts at proper treatment, I am as stable as I can get, for the time being at least. Now I help others when I can.

I don’t offer my help from a sense of guilt or for profit, save perhaps emotional. Others who are where I was or are where I am have helped me and do help me, and that is as it should be. I don’t help because she is pretty – I have never seen her face. I don’t help because he may further my career – I have none; pain took that away long ago. I help because our common humanity makes us the same creature; I help because our common pain makes us brothers and sisters; what diminishes them diminishes me, and makes us all less.

I have stood at that precipice he stands at now, the terrible abyss yawning beneath my feet. I know the voice of the darkness that surrounds her, calling her name in the voice of helplessness, telling her how useless the single, dim candle of her life is in a universe of suns. I know the the desolate isolation of being alone, the pain screaming above all else in a voice only he can hear. I know the feeling and the sound of another strand in a frayed lifeline snapping as yet another doctor, a rare hope in such lives as ours, or a loved one, a source of safety most people can take for granted, disbelieves, even mocks. I too have the same bowed shoulders of one who waits, bound, as every stone-heavy, passing moment settles and adds to the mountain that she must carry, hoping that this one is not the last of an unrelieved accumulation that she will crumple under. I know the snide tones of the unimaginative, healthy professionals, family and friends that erodes his pride and sense of worth.

I help because others helped me, and not to pass this on would be a callous, greedy use of such a gift. I help because the journey through that place called pain that makes the valley of the shadow of death look like a sweet promise is one that should never be walked alone. I help for the courage of those who, from the midst of their own pain, reach out their hands to help others who stand a fraction closer to the edge of that abyss we all face, every moment of every day of our lives, yes, but especially every doubly and trebly long moment of the long, long nights, alone in the dark with the pain.

Sometimes there is little I can do but listen and believe, but I know the value of that. It seems a small thing, but a small thing in a void is like a candle in a dark room: small to the one who lights it in the sunlight and carries it in, but a great gift to one who has lived in darkness so long that light is all but forgotten.

I help because I will allow that precipice to claim no one without a fight, I will permit no soul to be lost in that void if by some means I can help guide it back to the light that is our mutual nature, beginning and destiny. I help because I have learned to love myself, and that love is a wellspring from which all who are decent and caring may draw. I help because love acts, and I will not be still in the face of such abuse and such need.

I help because I can, and being able, because I find I must if I am to remain true to my self. I help because where one alone is a weak victim, many together are strong, and can accomplish anything.

This passage I found in the Chronic Pain Forums at the Pain Relief Network site really spoke to me. I've had constant chronic headaches and other pain since starting puberty at 13 and I'm 33 now. That's more than half my life in constant pain. It waxes and wanes, but it's always there. I've only had two moments in my life since turning 13 that were pain free. The doctors won't give me the medicines that actually help because of DEA restrictions. I couldn't afford them anyway, because Medicaid won't cover them without a long, involved fight. I know, I've had to fight with them about nearly every medication I take, and I'm on more than a dozen of them. I pray every day for help. Without my understanding and loving husband, I would have left this world long ago by my own hand. Believe it or not, my children help, too. Love helps.

Still bored? Here's another site with great stuff to read!