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When My Chronic Pain Tries to Control My Life

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Living with severe chronic pain is, undoubtedly, not simple. For as long as I can remember, my daily aches and pains have, to an extent, controlled my life. If I had to give an estimate, approximately 70 percent (or even more) of my time is spent at home – but more specifically on a recliner

Every day my pain, on a scale of 10, is around the seven and a half to nine range throughout my entire body, but more specifically worse in areas such as my deformed right foot and leg, my arthritis permeated joints and lower back, and around my herniated disk. I know my bodily limits, yet that doesn’t make it easier on my heart, mind and soul, which are extremely determined. These physical limits are daunting. I wish I didn’t have them, but I do. Each day I try my best to accomplish my goals whether they be small or large, simple or complex, but chronic pain gets in the way of my life. However, I will never let it get in the way of my hopes, goals and dreams.

Ever since I was a little girl I have aspired to do so much. Thankfully, while I was younger I was able to achieve a ton before my pain became as severe as it is today. For about 13 years I was involved in dancing. I did every type of dance that piqued my interest, from hip-hop and lyrical, to ballet and tap. I was the only disabled girl in my classes, but that didn’t stop me from doing one of my earliest passions. One of my dreams was to become a prima ballerina. And although that dream didn’t come true, I’m living out a different life-long dream. Along with dancing into my pre-teen and early teen years I was also involved in activities such as gymnastics, horseback riding, tae-kwon-do, and more. Eventually, music and have followed me into my adult years.

Now being almost 22, I am thankful and I feel amazingly blessed to have had the opportunities and experiences I did before my health got to the way it is today. However, with my health and physical difficulties, I feel as if I am now missing out on an incredulous amount of things.

This year, I would be graduating from art school, but a semester and a half into my first year I sadly and regretfully had to drop out. It deeply saddens me because I feel like I have missed on numerous chances to learn and that I missed college related experiences.

Flash forward a few months after leaving college when I tried to work at a local bank as a teller. Working with the public and my co-workers was such an enthralling thing as it gave me a taste of a “normal” life. However, working proved to be too hard on me physically and emotionally. Other health issues also popped up during this time leading me to have to leave my beloved teller job and begin to collect disability benefits through them. This definitely left me feeling more depressed (I already experience bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety), and it made my emotions go somewhat out of whack.

After leaving my job, a few months passed before anything concrete occurred in my life, As I have noted before, my life has revolved around my music and art for as long as I can remember. In the Summer of 2016, after a long and involved application process, I was juried in as a studio artist at a local and renowned arts center here in Reading, Pennsylvania…the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

At the time of my induction, I was the youngest studio artist working out of the facility. Despite my mental and physical insecurities, I began my application process in May of that year, and by the end of June, I was moving into my own studio. This summer will be my second anniversary at the GoggleWorks. Since my beginnings, I have been involved in various art shows, worked numerous times teaching inner-city children at a local elementary school, etc. I could not feel more blessed by having the artistic opportunities I have had, despite my difficulties.

As of late, unfortunately, I have spent the past two months or so at home dealing with my second chronic foot wound caused by a deformed bone in my right foot. I struggled with another one for a year and a half, but spend most of that time under bad guidance from a previous doctor. However, since switching doctors my treatment of these wounds has been very prompt, thankfully. Soon I am expecting surgery to remove this bone to release pressure on the wound and promote healing. I will be spending around six weeks recovering, which I am undeniably no excited about. During these last few weeks since the wound has appeared my chronic pain has been at all all-time high, and further inhibiting me from the things I love most.

With all these things going on through somebody’s life one may think I have lost my determination and drive. At times I feel like I have, but then I look back at all of the things I have accomplished – even with my chronic pain happening at the same time. I am here to say that I have not given up.

Life is full of doorways – some we choose to open and others we are forced through like a gust of wind thrusting a leaf through the air. My chronic pain is like this wind as it whips me around and throws the unexpected at me. I have learned to make the best of what I have. Through all these experiences I have learned that yes, in a sense, my chronic pain does indeed control my life. But seeing as how many times I have conquered it, I will never let it take a full hold. Instead, I will just embrace and enjoy the ride in the wind through the doorways that are what we call life.

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Originally published: March 3, 2018
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