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Why 'No Pain, No Gain' Is True for Me as a Someone With Chronic Pain

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There’s a saying in the chronic pain community: “Whoever said ‘no pain, no gain’ never had chronic pain.” At first, I fully and whole-heartedly agreed with the quote. As a chronic pain patient, I could not see anything I had gained from the constant pain I lived with. But I saw this quote again more recently and realized that it was no longer true — at least, not for me. I still understand the meaning of the quote and the endless desire to live without pain; however, I also understand how much I have gained over the past 10 years, in spite of my pain.

Personally, I have gained and grown so much more than I ever thought possible. I found the strength to survive and eventually, I found the strength to thrive, to help others, and to become a person I am proud of every day. I never thought I could fight in the face of pain but 10 years later, I have survived and been stronger than I ever imagined. I have spent the last five years of my life trying to help others facing the same adversities as I do, and can honestly say I’m grateful and proud of the person I’ve become.

Although I occasionally think of what I would be doing had I not gotten a chronic pain condition, I know it would be nothing compared to what I do now or who I have become because of it. I truly understand the meaning of life and enjoy the little things that mean everything to me. I have gained an understanding, a perspective, and an appreciation for life that most people never will begin to understand. I am grateful days with my family, my beautiful nieces and nephews and for their ability to make me carefree. I am in awe of all the beauty I have in my life, which makes up for struggles. I am honored to live a life I am proud of, even on my worst days, because those are the days I’m fighting my hardest. And I never would have seen any of those things if I weren’t forced to stop living a “normal life” and start living a different kind of normal 10 years ago.

I have gained loyalty, truth and respect. Every family function I attend, I look around and see “pain warrior” bracelets! No, my entire family and extended family does not live in chronic pain, they are simply supporting me every second of every day. They call me their hero when in fact my family and friends are the real heroes in my life. I can’t tell you the number of private hospital rooms I’ve had to be moved to because I had so many visitors, the number of “just thinking of you” cards I get, or how my dad has had to restrict the number of visitors I’ve had per day. Although they do not truly understand my fight, they are beside me every step of the way. To say I’m honored to have seen how my family has become the army that stands behind me every day would be an understatement. They have been through every part of my journey with me and never once have they doubted my ability or strength to pull through. They are cheerleaders, motivators, fighters, and caregivers all in one. I have a family of heroes, and getting to see them in action is nothing short of beautiful.

I have gained a whole pain warrior family. I have strangers who turned into friends, and friends who turned into family. When another individual truly understands the battle you are facing, you connect with them on a whole new level. They understand you more than your doctors, therapists, and family combined, because they have been right where you are standing and vice versa. My job gives me the opportunity to constantly meet new pain warriors and share my story with those in need of the help. If I can help one person who is struggling or needs a friendly ear, then I have succeed more than I ever thought possible when my pain journey began. I am truly proud of the work I do and the friends I have made because of my job. They are the most amazing, inspiring, and fun group of people.

So have I experienced some of the worst pain known to man? Unfortunately yes, but I have gained so much more than I ever thought possible because of it. I have become a fighter; my family and friends have become my heroes, picking me up when I don’t think I can make it the last step, and strangers have become family. Now when all is said and done, I would do most anything to take the pain away, but I would never give away the person I am today. While on the surface, “whoever said no pain, no gain never had chronic pain” may ring true, when you really look at the person you’ve become since your diagnoses, you might be surprised at what you have gained.

Originally published: September 23, 2016
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