Yesterday was July 4th, Independence Day for us in the United States. In my past, like most of my peers this day included a lot of drinking, eating, doing stupid things, and most likely forgetting the fireworks. Therefore, in the past I would usually be hung over in bed right now. Once I was able to get my chronic pain under control and learned to live a healthy lifestyle without numbing my physical pain this holiday completely changed. As I look through my “one liner journal” I see that in 2012 I was pretty hung over and angry with myself on this day: July 5th. Kayci was still an infant and there were times where chronic pain appeared too difficult to manage so I drank and most likely had way too many cigarettes and felt like crap the following day. There is a huge difference between self medicating with alcohol (it does make one forget about their chronic pain for a couple hours) and having a little wine with dinner with friends. Throughout my late teens and early twenties my friends drank for fun while I was drinking just to be able to hang out with people and not have to deal with the physical pain. I cannot express to you how happy I am that I do not ever drink to numb my chronic pain. With that said, I want my readers to know I will never judge you for things you do when you are in the midst of chronic pain torture. I have no room to judge anyone and I completely understand how living with chronic pain can make you do things that others look down on you for. Unless one has chronic pain he or she can never possibly understand the “mistakes” one makes just to not feel in pain for a couple hours.
The highlight of Independence Day this year was a small town parade watching my daughter’s eyes light up at the music and fire engines. Being a mother makes me appreciate the little things like nothing ever has. I am thirty-three and I cannot ever remember being excited about a fire engine unless Santa was driving around the neighborhood. My dad, who is obviously one of my best friends was with us and he made me laugh like only he is able to at times. During the parade, kids on mini floats and on trucks chucked a ton of candy to the bystanders. Some of these kids were winging lollipops at us so hard I honestly shielded Kayci’s eyes a few times. My dad decided to start throwing the candy right back at the people in the parade and at the moment it was hilarious. It rained for most of the day and we hung inside until the fireworks began. The fireworks were louder and bigger than I have ever seen and Kayci was petrified. This child is fearless but she was literally shaking while tears ran down her face and all she kept saying was: “Mommy scared” over and over again. I took her inside and just held her for about an hour and she calmed down. This was the second best part of the day which makes me sound like a terrible mother but being able to protect and comfort my little two year old is so ridiculously amazing. My whole life I have yearned for someone to protect me and save me from chronic pain and now I have this little angel whom I am able to protect and help at any moment of any day: chronic pain or no chronic pain. We all need help sometimes but it fills me with happiness that I no longer am yearning for someone to take away my invisible illness. I am in a place where I am able to care for others: most importantly my child. I was not in a place to care for anyone or anything until I was able to accept and live with chronic pain naturally. You will get there too, just do not stop believing in yourself or the process. I will never take for granted the little things in life again as it is true that the littlest things end up being your greatest joys.