To the People Who Think I 'Have It Easy' in My Life With Chronic Pain
Life was great that fall morning. I had just spent the night at my boyfriend’s house and was watching the sun rise as I drove to a job that I loved. I finally held a position within an organization that I had been dreaming about. I was healthy, happy and extremely driven. I was in a wonderful relationship that had just blossomed and I had great friends both personally and professionally. I was an excellent driver with an exceptional driving record for the last 20 years and I had never been in a horrific crash. I was well liked and full of confidence. Life was good.
I vaguely remember the first impact from the distracted driver that had hit me from behind causing me to be tossed around my vehicle and I do not remember the second impact from a tractor trailer. I remember feeling trapped, cold, frightened and confused. I was rushed to a local hospital then immediately transferred to a trauma hospital where I stayed for a few days mending multiple injuries including a head injury.
My good life now consisted of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medical appointments, legal appointments, sleepless nights, nightmares, financial burdens, anxiety and chronic pain. Once mobile I was introduced to outpatient rehabilitation which I attended twice a week. After a year or so I was told I had reached a plateau, which meant I had to accept the fact that I will not fully recover but I would continue treatments. Did I mention my good life also consisted of depression and weight gain? Receiving news that you have reached a plateau in your recovery can do that to you.
Every activity is painful and you are forever mourning the “you” who once accomplished so much in a day. Confidence has taken a back seat and I no longer enjoy being in a vehicle. I can now predict weather and can tell you when it will rain. I can even go as far to tell you when there will be a change in the barometric pressure, lucky me! A peaceful night’s sleep is a thing of the past as my nights are now being interrupted with trying to find comfortable positions to deal with the pain. I lost a job I had worked so hard for and close friends disappeared. My good life is now facing the fact that I have arthritis in many areas of my body and I feel like I have aged 10 years.
Financially, this life changing event almost broke me. The battles that take place with insurance companies after an auto collision are shameful. Fighting for what you paid into is a full-time job in itself. My good life now consists of hearing numerous remarks from people that seem to think they know me better than myself. Remarks such as: “Must be nice to not have to work,” “You will feel better once you get your settlement,” “You look fine,” “You need to get over it” and “There is nothing wrong with you,” just to name a few. I still get upset and angry hearing these types of comments because people just don’t seem to get it.
For the people who think I have it easy, I did not ask to leave my job. I did not quit, get a promotion or get fired. That decision was made for me the morning a driver decided to drive distracted and rear end me at a high rate of speed.
For the people who think I have it easy, I would ask that you change places with me for one day. Live with my chronic pain and tell me if you still think I have it easy.
For the people who think I have it easy, I did not choose to have sleepless nights filled with flashbacks, nightmares, chronic pain and anxiety. That life change was made for me because a driver was not paying attention.
For the people who think I have it easy, I did not choose to wait over a year to receive any type of income while my insurance company decided if my injuries were significant enough. That decision was made for me because I could not work.
For the people who think I have it easy, I did not choose to become forgetful and no longer a multitasker. That decision was made for me because my head crashed into the windshield of my car which caused a traumatic brain injury as a driver was distracted.
For the people who think I have it easy, being involved in an auto collision is not a sudden windfall. I would prefer to be driving into work today but I am not able to.
For the people who think I have it easy, I did not choose to have PTSD. That decision was made for me after being involved in a horrific car crash.
For the people who think I have it easy, I did not choose to stay in bed all day today. That decision was made for me because I live with chronic pain.
For the people who think I have it easy, although I may look fine to you, I ask you to remember that my life was completely disrupted because of the crash. Surviving an auto collision is a daily struggle on so many levels and even though you may see me smiling, I have chronic pain, PTSD and I am on my third night with barely any sleep. Unless you have experienced a horrific crash first hand you will truly never understand, so please don’t be so quick to judge us.
This story originally appeared on Picking Up the Pieces.
Getty photo by Dreya Novak