This is sort of a short story sharing/chronic pain post.
I just found this on my laptop – I vaguely recall starting to write my pain-journey down soon after I married OH… and here it is! This is just a snippet of it =)
I have recently read these termed as invisible illness. Something that you live with daily but the average person can’t see or tell that they are there. Living with them has made me more compassionate toward others. They have taught me to be able to look past the obvious and search for the meaning behind their negative words, hurtful actions and painful silence. They have taken my dreams and then taught me to learn to dream again. I have grown stronger in my sense of who I am through these years. I have learned to speak up, to share my opinion and to believe that I have a right to be heard.
I am more than my health issues.
Now before you start worrying that this is a story of a rise to egotism, let me reassure you that I am still the girl next door –happiest-in-the-country-than-the-city that I always have been. This is a story of faith, family and overcoming obstacles I never dreamed of as a young girl in pigtails and overalls.
When I was young, we lived on acreage that my parents owned, passed down from my grandparents. All five of us kids grew up climbing the trees, playing hide and seek and running between houses to see our extended relatives on this land. I have always loved that fact. I can remember staying the night at my grandparents’ house that they built themselves; and a skip away my great aunt would teach me crotchet and embroidery in a house they also built. My great grandma also lived in that house for a time.
I would daydream about who I would become – teacher? Stay-at-home mom? Business exec? Jumping horses in the Olympics? My dreams were all over the board. It changed from year to year, but always I knew that I would be successful and able to take on any challenge thrown my way. By the time I reached high school, my dreams had shrunk a little, the way that everyone’s do I imagine. I was lucky to have a group of friends to help me transition to the world of hard teachers, overblown emotions and bad cafeteria food. In that time, one of my ‘invisible diseases’ slowly started. I, completely unaware what it would come to mean in a few years’ time, shrugged it off and continued ahead in my life.
Graduation came and I was relieved at finally getting to move ahead with my future. I had, by this time, no idea what I truly wanted to do and held a great deal of fear inside at failing. I hid it well and congratulated my friends as they each in their turn headed out of town or state to attend one college or another. I decided to take a year off of school until I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to dedicate my life to and ended up working low-level jobs that barely offer enough money to spend and save.
By the end of that year, I was no closer to a plan than I had been in the beginning but I signed up for classes at our local community college. I remember being so scared of doing this on my own that I cried as I drove there that first morning. I took the required prerequisite classes, really only enjoying that moment when the day of school was done. I made a few friends but my shyness was well developed by that time and I stuck to the back of the class.
About a year into prerequisite classes, I struggled and struggled with making the decision to attend the culinary institute on campus. I loved the thought of learning more about baking so I finally screwed up my courage and signed up for culinary. The hardest thing I’ve done in my life up to that point was to show up every day and try my best. It was during this time of intense stress, lack of sleep and confidence, that my first invisible disease accelerated its appearance. Advil and Ibuprofen became a companion of mine to get through some days. The pain escalated as I fought to keep up with the others in my class. Lack of concentration, ability to find the right words and the feeling of living in a fog all came crashing down on me and I wasn’t sure what had happened to who I had been. The struggle that class had been before, had just doubled and some days, tripled. A kitchen is where you must be at your best, ready to run your own legs off to prepare a meal for someone else. You have to be able to multi-task several times over – and that ability had just been taken from me.