When Chronic Pain is Like Invisible Yet Destructive Wind
I awoke to the sounds of deafening wind, as it is one of the coldest, windiest weekends in our state of New Jersey that I can remember. When I say it is cold, I am serious: It is cold! For a girl who lived in Colorado for over five years, I can say it is a lot colder here than there, and the wind only intensifies this frigid air. I always say New Jersey news about weather is beyond dramatic, but for once they are right and have a story they can go over again and again, as if we could not just hear the gusts of wind and see the frozen lawns and lakes. As I lay there in bed on Valentine’s Day, I began thinking about how much the wind and chronic pain have in common.
Wind is invisible and can only be seen by the damaging, sometimes beautiful effects it has on the environment. There are huge example such as fallen trees that destroy homes, cars and communities, and then there are very small affects such as losing balloons in the wind.
My daughter Kayci and I went out yesterday to finalize our Valentine’s gifts, and she wanted a heart balloon from the dollar store. Standard: We go to the dollar store, we get a balloon. The wind was so rough that my toddler had tears in her eyes, and when I looked up we were both holding the string to our Valentine’s balloon, but the balloon itself had sailed off into the sky. On a normal day, Kayci would have been crying because her balloon was gone, begging to go back into the store to buy a new one, but she was crying because the wind was so strong and the last thing she wanted to do was buy another balloon. All she said was: “Mommy, I just want to go home, we can come back another day. I like the string to the balloon. Let’s get warm.” Now, that means it is freaking frigid outdoors!
Chronic pain is usually invisible, and people are only able to see the damaging affects it has on their loved ones by their emotions, actions and loss. I was sitting outside Kayci’s ballet/hip hop dance class yesterday and I overheard a beautiful woman with a very outgoing personality talking on the phone to her doctor about her illness: fibromyalgia. She suddenly had tears in her eyes and I could not help but reach out and talk to her about my story once she was off the phone. She looked at me and said, “You have chronic pain? But you are always so happy and outgoing and put together!” I looked at her and said quite simply: “So are you. Having an invisible illness is possibly the worst, isn’t it?”
She replied with more tears filling up in her eyes: “No, you don’t understand. I am on so many medications from pain pills to everything else the doctors will prescribe. Some nights I have to drink wine and a lot of it just to fall asleep. I am so tired and the medications are making me sick. I am getting so weak that I cannot even pick up my 3-year-old daughter.”
I do get it, and as we talked and talked she slowly realized she was not alone. I gave her my card and begged her to check out my website and to email/call me for help and advice. She looked relieved in a sense, and thanked me and I knew she no longer felt alone. She, like so many of you are in an invisible storm. Just like the wind, we do not see the damaging effects this invisible illness causes until the damage is done.
This is why I share my story: the good and the bad. We have so much in common with the wind. Our cries and screams aloud are just like the howling and gusting of wind: We cannot see either, yet the voices are loud. The air, the wind, our higher being, all our beliefs are invisible yet they are all there.
If you believe in the wind, you should definitely believe in chronic pain.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.