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To Those With Chronic Pain Afraid to Plan for Your Future

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I like to think of my chronic pain as a bus driver (just follow me on this one), because, you see, the bus driver calls all the shots — left turn, right, run the light. For years my bus was just barreling through the city, not caring about what was in its path. My pain was out of control and I was simply along for the ride.

I told a doctor about my metaphor once and she simply blinked and said, “Take back the bus.”

Challenge accepted.

This full-body takeover turned out to be a huge turning point in my life. When I started trying to take back control, I realized there were all of these “stops” that bus was supposed to be making, but it wasn’t because of the fragility and uncertainty that comes with being chronically ill. I felt so defeated as I watched peers reach goals that now felt like dreams of the past.


A new job.

Developing friendships.

Becoming independent.

I had all of these wants, but I couldn’t plan on anything being secure enough in the future to commit. No matter if the plan was two days down the road or two months, I never made concrete plans to get off the bus for fear of the unknown. Instead, my friends Anxiety and Depression hopped on. Want to get coffee with a friend? Let me consult my chronic pain, anxiety, depression — you get the idea. I applied to college and got in. Four times. Ask me how many times I started classes and I’ll show you the door to my favorite hospital.

My point in all of this is that I believe there comes a time when we have to stop fearing the pain and the what ifs it may cause, bite the bullet and commit. The hardest thing I’ve had to do is fight for control of my life back. I wanted so badly to curl up and hide, allow choices to be made by anyone but me, and keep riding along. I knew, though, at some point this fictitious bus was going to crash, hard. You end up riding the bus for so long that you start to ask yourself if you ever want to get off, if you could even imagine a future for yourself anymore. That’s when it becomes vitally important to push past the fear and plan a way to fight back against the chronic pain that has taken over your life.

As one of my favorite songs says:

“We’ll never be ready if we keep waiting/For the perfect time to come/ Won’t be steady, we’ll never be ready.”

Take back control of your bus.

Plan for the future, plan for months, years in advance, because despite the lies bouncing around in your head now, you’ll still be here. You’ll still be fighting, but you won’t be waiting for the fight to end. You’ll be attacking your illnesses head on, always in control.

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Originally published: June 9, 2016
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