Having to accept that I will have chronic pain for the rest of my life was honestly the hardest thing I have ever had to do. This is not something that happened over night or even over a year. It took ten years of my life spent in doctor’s offices, surgery tables, acupuncturist tables, etc. to come to a point where I ended up at the Pain Rehab Center where I received the honesty I did not want to hear and yet had to hear. I have chronic pain and I can either spend the remainder of my life searching for a cure or medication that will take away my pain or I can learn to live with the pain naturally with effective tools that would change my world forever. When this is what I was told I lost it emotionally. I was past the shock phase (it had been ten years) but I was not ready to accept that this would be my life.
Through exercise, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, meditation, eating healthy, and practicing moderation in my life I was able to gradually accept that I had chronic pain and it was unlikely to ever go away. This took about a year of practice. Practice never makes perfect, but it does make permanence. There are ways and tools to utilize to help minimize the pain. Sometimes I actually do forget I have chronic pain. I never thought in a million years I would be able to say that. I take no medicine for pain and have not been in a doctor’s office for pain in more months that I can count.
Acceptance is the hardest part of any grieving process. And yes, I believe that chronic pain is almost like a death. I did lose the person I was prior to my accident and chronic pain. I had to leave that person behind and lead a totally different life. I think we all come to acceptance with anything when we are truly ready. I had to learn to live with chronic pain naturally in order to live a happy life. Every day is structured for me. No matter what I exercise, whether its running or light yoga. I try and eat healthy every day. I say no to activities with certain people because I know it will affect my pain. I practice meditation and try to be as positive as possible even when I want to scream and cry. I distract myself with music, dancing, and playing with my one year old or laughing with friends.
I reached the point of accepting I had chronic pain when I was so depressed that I was drinking every night with friends and spent most days wanting to die because I could not live with the pain anymore and I couldn’t live another day disappointing my love ones but more importantly disappointing myself. I came to a point where I knew I had to go balls to the wall (excuse the expression) and get up and help myself because no one else could do the work for me. I still have moments where it is difficult to accept I have chronic pain but I keep going. My life is so much better since I have come to acceptance and changed my lifestyle in radical ways in order to stay focused on my chronic pain program.
I will continue to write about acceptance and the tools I use to manage my pain. Please write me if you have questions. I appreciate it and am here to help.