A Letter to my Younger Self

Dear Jessica,

You are thirty two years old now (right now that must sound ancient, but you have never been better and it really isn’t that old!) You are married with a two year old daughter. Her name is Kayci and she is your entire world. Your dream of having your own family has come true and you and your husband are trying to have more children. You got your degree in Social Work! I know you want to be a teacher right now but life does not always go the way you want it to! You will have to learn the hard way but I am hear to tell you, you will be just fine.

I have some sad news. Right before you entered seventh grade you had a bike accident. Obviously you survived as I am here many years later writing to you. However, it was a pretty awful time. You were riding on your pink cruiser (your favorite color is still pick by the way) and your foot slipped and you fell into a stone wall. You broke your collar bone which was no big deal but unfortunately the fall was so hard you ended up with a large blood clot on the right side of your brain. You were rushed into immediate brain surgery and gave your family and friends the biggest scare of their lives. You stayed in the ICU for quite some time and later got a private room. Dad never left our side. At the time you were most afraid of starting a new school with half a shaved head and I’ll be honest you do not look your best for a good year. Apparently, brain surgery is no joke. Middle School is going to be a tough time but like everything else it will make you stronger. You will be bullied and will find it very hard to make friends but once people get to know the inside of you and not just your scars, you will make friends that will remain your best friends till present tense.

I wish that I could tell you that the worst of it is over but unfortunately due to the accident you will discover you have chronic pain that there is no cure for. You will spend over ten years searching for a cure to your chronic pain because as you know you never do give up but there will come a time when looking for a cure sends you into a downward spiral. You will end up making so many mistakes Jessica. I wish I could be with you now so you would not have to endure the pain you put yourself through. You will get to a point in your journey with chronic where you will want to die. There will be a few nights where you drink so much you will be surprised to wake up in the morning. You will not understand what chronic pain is as you read this but it will be a prominent part of the rest of your life. There will be so many days and nights where you will wish your life away. You will pray on a daily basis for a doctor to relieve you of a life with pain. I want to hold you Jessica and tell you everything will be okay and that you are not alone. But, for most of your life you will feel completely alone especially when you are around people. I know that does not make any sense but you will see what I mean. Chronic pain will tear you apart but it will make you the strongest person I have yet to meet. You are so strong Jessica, you will not see that for far too many years. I want you to know that none of the mistakes you make are intentional. Chronic pain is a horrible illness that causes amazing people to do awful things. People (including yourself) will do anything to not feel the pain they feel on a daily basis.

You will have to go through this hell to get to the point you are at now. You are going to be okay. I know reading this you will not believe me but you will be. In fact you will end up in Minnesota (beautiful state!) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. You will go two times actually. You will stay alone in a hotel for about three months. It will be one of the hardest tests in life you will ever take. While there you will spend nine hours a day with people who have chronic pain, just like you! This will be a huge deal because you never have before met someone with an invisible illness. The Mayo Clinic will save your life Jessica. You will hate it at first because they do not believe in taking medication for chronic pain. You will be taken off all medications except medicine for anxiety. Oh yea, you have anxiety. Big shocker there….look at our family! You will also hate it because their philosophy is : Fake it Till You Make it. They will teach you to train your brain to not think about pain. I know you probably think this is all bullshit right now but trust me they save your life. Chronic pain is the reason you end up going to a school in Denver, Colorado to become a medical social worker. You definitely will not believe this but you graduate at the top of your class! You also become an athlete! You run marathons, practice yoga, and even get your certification to teach aerobics. You are a huge health nut! Yes, you Jessica you no longer eat the way you used to and you love juicing. Sounds a lot like our dad huh?

It is not always easy Jessica and you are going to have many ups and downs. Luckily once you reach your thirties there are many more ups and downs. You are presently a stay at home mother with the greatest little thing to ever happen to you. You are an amazing mother. By the way, being a mom is nothing like how you play house. It is hard!!!! Marriage is difficult as well, but so worth it. You waited for the exact right time Jessica. You will date men and think for a hot second that they will be your future husband but you end up marrying your best friend. I wish I could tell you that your chronic pain goes away. I will not lie to you. It never will go away but you will learn to live with it naturally and be very successful and happy. Some days are hard and that is okay. I hope ten years from now I can write to you and tell you all the other dreams that come true. Your dream of having more children will never change. You have had this dream since you could walk. Your other dream is to help people with chronic pain, hence the blog you start writing called No One Gets Flowers For Chronic Pain. You probably have no idea what a blog is but you buy yourself a computer and just start writing one day in the hopes of helping others.

I know right now everything seems so awesome and easy and it can and will be that way again. I wish I could hold you younger Jessica. I promise you, everything is going to be okay. You are very loved and sadly it will take a lot of time to see that because for a good portion of your life you do not love yourself. That will change. Everything changes Jessica, nothing stays the same.

Love,
The Older Jessica

I truly hope younger people read this post and I dedicate it to you Katrina because you remind me so much of my younger self.

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A Letter to my Younger Self

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3 thoughts on “A Letter to my Younger Self

  1. Samuel says:

    My chronic pain started when I was 27 years old. A year later I had a surgery to remove the L4/L5 herniation that was pressing on my sciatic nerve. To make a long story short it was unsuccessful. For a long time I was very angry over how much c. pain had taken away from me & still am at times. I always felt that I was way too young to have to go through this & I can only imagine what that must feel like for people who were affected much earlier in their lives. How unfair it must feel & how much harder it would be trying to manage pain when you are still learning so much about life & who you are. My heart goes out to you and I hope you find that strength in yourself to become stronger from this and find ways to have happy and healthy lives. I also hope you are lucky enough to find people like Jessica and learn from her experiences and just feel listened to & understood.

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