To the Girl Who Said She'd 'Rather Die' Than Live With My Chronic Pain


The other day, a classmate and I were sitting and talking. We were both about 15 minutes early for lecture, so we sat and chatted. At first it was all small talk, the usual “What’s you major?,” “What do you think of the class?” and “Do you like the professor?”

We had a great conversation going when I turned to start unpacking the materials for class from my backpack. “Why are you in the wheelchair?” she quickly inquired. That’s a question I’ve answered no less than a dozen times in the last three days alone, and yet, I stuttered. “My feet are turned in. I can’t move them,” I finally replied. “Do they hurt?” “Yeah, it hurts all the time, but I’m pretty used to it,” I said. “All the time?” “Yep, 24/7.” Here’s where she blew me away. “I would rather die than live with that!” I didn’t have a good response for that at the time, but I do now.

 

So to the girl in my class who would rather die than live with my chronic illnesses, I am not going to tell you that life with chronic illness doesn’t suck sometimes because it does. Yes, I spend a lot of time in the hospital. I take a bunch of medication. I get poked with needles a lot and I have had plenty of uncomfortable tests, procedures and surgeries. None of it was fun, but it was all necessary.

What you don’t know is that when you live with chronic illnesses, you are forced to try to compartmentalize health from the rest of life. It’s a challenge and not completely feasible, but it helps some. This means my health can stink, but life itself can still be pretty great. For example, I can be having a huge dysautonomia flare, but I can be doing really well with my classes and taekwondo. In that case, my health isn’t great, but that doesn’t mean my whole life is bad.

And one last thing, if you’d been in several life-threatening situations you weren’t expected to survive at a young age, you learn what really matters. When you go to the brink of death and come back from it multiple times, you realize how truly precious and fragile life is. So then the little stuff doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

I don’t want to belittle the challenges of chronic illnesses and chronic pain, but it is not everything we have in this life. There are more important and wonderful things to enjoy. So no, if it came down to it, you would probably hang on as long as possible for your family and friends, because there’s more to living than pain.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via bowdenimages.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Chronic Pain

woman holding her back in pain

The Effects of Having Chronic, Invisible Back Pain

I struggle with chronic back pain. I have degenerative disc disease, arthritis, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, sciatica and bulging discs. I also have a spinal cord stimulator. Having an “invisible” illness has been such an eye-opening experience. From being told, “Walk it off” to “It’s all in your head” or “Lose a few pounds and you’ll [...]
woman sitting at a table with her head resting on her hand

When Living With Chronic Pain, It's Not Just the Physical Pain That Hurts

Many say I’m strong. Some even call me a survivor or a warrior… I say I’m just trying my best to survive! Let’s face it, chronic pain sucks! We all know pain, each and every one of us knows what pain feels like. However, some of us know what they call “chronic pain,” a pain [...]
black and white drawing of a woman's face

10 Things I Want Others to Know About My Chronic Pain

It has been exactly 10 years since I was diagnosed lupus and myositis, which are autoimmune disorders that cause me to struggle with chronic pain in my joints and muscles. It had taken just as long to get my diagnoses. For years, my pain was not taken seriously. With the test results always coming back normal, I was often [...]
doctor talking with patient and writing on his tablet

Putting Off a Doctor Visit Because You Don't Want to Hear 'It's All in Your Head'

Validation. That’s all I wanted from the doctor who sat in front of me, listened to my myriad of symptoms, and told me she would “get to the bottom” of my pain. I walked out of her office to receive the same blood tests I’d taken three or four times: rheumatoid arthritis testing, complete blood [...]