I decided to write about this today, because I have found that there is little room to talk about chronic pain and what it is like to live with it. When people become used to hearing you say that you are in pain, they tune out. Pain is not something that you can ignore, but yet you are expected to pretend that it does not exist, so that others can just move on to topics that make them feel comfortable. Even when they can clearly see the pain on your face, it is easier for them to look away, as though it is somehow contagious, or you are magnifying it for the sake of a love of drama. I know this, because I have experienced it.
On Friday, my eldest son was tested for his gold belt in Karate. We have a family tradition of going out to dinner to celebrate before going to the dojo. The restaurant that we chose was about 3-4 blocks away from the dojo and I thought that I could make the walk. I started walking slowly, just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, as the pain began to rise. Slowly it began to take over and each step became pure agony. Finally at about 30 feet from the dojo, I stood exhausted crying in the unhusbands arms trying to hide the shame and agony from my children, who were riddled with concern. I should not have pushed myself. I should have known better. That walk was the equivalent of a marathon for me. Other than my family, not one single person asked if I was okay and yet the room was FILLED with other karate parents that I have been interacting with for TWO YEARS.
When people do interact with my pain the common phrase is, “I hope that you feel better soon.” This may seem like a nice little platitude, but it pisses me the fuck off. I am not going to “feel better soon.” Unless modern science suddenly comes up with a cure for my chronic conditions I am not going to “feel better.” (and you can keep your special tonics or whatever new age nonsense you have heard about cures to yourself) Platitudes and pain do not go together. It is the equivalent of asking how someone is doing and then walking away before hearing the answer. I really do understand if people don’t know what to say, but then I have to wonder why the hell they just don’t STFU and listen instead. Why is it so hard to see that maybe the gift of listening to someone talk about their isolation, or chronic pain would be far more meaningful than a platitude. Listening indicates concern far more than any platitude ever could. So stop wishing that I “feel better soon.”
I spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday recovering from my three block marathon. As I lay on the couch looking wistfully at the outside, I was reminded once again that in the winter, my home doubles as a prison of sorts. In the spring, even on painful days, I am able to sit on my front porch with a blanket and interact with my neighbours, but the winter offers no such comfort. My world is reduced to the square footage of my home and it is an incredibly isolating experience.
Last week when my physio therapist came, she once again remarked that I was on the computer AGAIN. Finally I decided to tell her that I blog. Blogging puts me on a regular schedule. I get up, shower, get my kids ready for school and attempt to get a post up on the blog for 9AM. Even with the frustration of the trolls and those who make me wish that I had started a little television blog, I have learned that it gives me purpose. It is untraditional work that fits my untraditional body. Unless the pain has reached an amplified level, on most days it is something that I am able to do. It took her awhile to understand, but eventually she realized that blogging serves a very important purpose in my life, it keep me from disappearing into myself. If you are blogging, you are thinking, communicating, being active. With the autonomy that comes from having one’s own space, I can confront issues that others are quick to push aside that are important to me. It becomes a world that I create and share, rather than a world that oppresses, and ignores me at every turn. Blogging reminds me that I am still functional.