Chronic pain can literally be so heavy on your mind and body that there is nothing else one is able to think about. Once you are diagnosed or begin having symptoms of chronic pain it truly does become your life. For most of my life I could not separate myself from chronic pain. I did not make decisions for myself: good or bad, my pain did that for me. Part of hitting rock bottom with chronic pain is losing any sort of hope that life will get better.
I remember being a sophomore in college and instead of having fun with friends, I was behind the computer looking for new specialists to cure me of my chronic pain. I came across a dentist that specialized in chronic pain in the face, neck, and head. On his website there were tons of testimonies of patients that swore this certain doctor was the best. As I read everything about his practice and his patients, I started feeling extremely hopeful. I remember calling my dad and telling him with excitement (something people were not used to hearing from me): “Dad, I have found the best doctor!!! This is it! He is exactly what we have been looking for! I know he will help me!” We made an appointment even though he was over an hour away and I took off of school and my grandmother, my dad, and I saw him a couple weeks later. His office was near the beach so we tried to make it a fun day. As soon as we entered his office there were piles upon piles of notebooks of patients testimonials this certain doctor had treated. To say I was excited is putting it mildly. We met with the doctor and he went over his treatment plan and I was to go there two to three times a week for treatments. I remember him looking at my father and I with such hope and promise of a cure that the hopefulness was contagious. We went to the beach following the appointment and even though I was in extreme pain, I had something new: hope.
That hope started to diminish after a few months of driving an hour once a week for treatment. They did a lot of different therapies and procedures to my face and head but nothing worked. After many months of this commute, I began driving home from the appointments in tears. Not little tears that I could easily wipe away, puddles of tears that fell the entire hour drive home. Once my hope diminished my dad and I went to this doctor for a new plan of action and to express our discouragement. We sat in his beautiful office awaiting what he was going to suggest. We will never forget what the doctor said: “I think the best thing to do for Jessica is to send her to a specialist that is the best of the best. I took my mother to see him and he cured her. I will make a note and send Jessica to him as soon as he has an availability.” At the time we were angry and it takes a lot to make my dad angry. We kept wondering why the hell it took him this amount of time to send me to the “best of the best.” And why did his mother not get treated by him? We look back and laugh about this experience but at the time it was the furthest thing from funny. The worst part is, the doctor he sent me to was the doctor who did the surgeries which entailed cutting off nerve endings in my face. Soon after these surgeries is when I got in my car and drove to Colorado because I truly had given up. I had no hope.
Now that I live with chronic pain with no treatment or medication it is literally as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am no longer weighed down by everything this picture represents. I still have chronic pain and anxiety but it does not rule my life by any means. Chronic pain is the heaviest load I have ever carried in my life. One does not just walk around in constant pain, they walk around with anxiety, depression, hopelessness, fear, loss, and dread. Sometimes hope is the only thing keeping a person going and that is why I am writing this. Living with chronic pain can literally define your life and I am here to show people and give people hope that they too can lift that weight from their shoulders.