I believe I could write a book just describing each and everything people with chronic pain lose due to their invisible illness but if you have chronic pain you definitely would not need to read the book of loss: you lived the loss or are currently living the loss. Following my bike accident, I truly was just happy to be alive. I was in my young teens but I still knew I had a long road ahead of me following my brain surgery. I never imagined I would have chronic pain for the rest of my life and had never even heard of such a disease. The beginning of my search for a cure for chronic pain started in high school and went on for years. I had hope the first year that one of the specialists could truly take the chronic pain away. I had total hope and looked forward to doctor visits and minor operations because the doctors seemed so sure they had the answer to my problem. It does not take very long to start losing hope. Hope is most likely the first thing I lost due to chronic pain. I did not give up searching for a cure, in fact the search took over my life but I slowly lost hope. I depended on my dad first and foremost for help along with other family members and friends. As years went by and I began to lose everything physically and emotionally, any sense of empowerment was one hundred percent thrown out the window and I wished many times that bike accident had taken my life as I was not living any type of life I wanted. Chronic pain controlled my life and stole every dream I had ever had. I had no sense of empowerment: chronic pain had all the power over me.
Once I ended up (unwillingly at first) at the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehab Center in MN, I began to slowly gain a sense of hope which turns in to empowerment. The odd thing is their philosophy was the opposite of what I had been pursuing for a good portion of my life. Their goal was not to find a cure for chronic pain but to gain a happy life despite chronic pain. I truly had nothing to lose when I began the four week program but in the beginning I was totally against the concept that I would not be given a cure for my invisible illness. During the weeks I was there I slowly began to understand acceptance and actually started to enjoy the tools I was taught to manage chronic pain without treatment. The road to getting through my brain surgery was not easy but the road to learn to live with chronic pain naturally is more difficult than anything I have ever been through. You know chronic pain sucks when brain surgery feels like a walk in the park. The Mayo Clinic gave me hope and I did gain acceptance. The program taught me endless ways to manage chronic pain naturally live a happy life despite the cards I had been dealt. Over time, I began to gain a sense of empowerment and there is nothing better than knowing you are empowered and feeling good about yourself and your life. No one can grant you empowerment but yourself which is why it is such an amazing, rewarding feeling.
My journey with chronic pain since the Mayo Clinic has not been all roses. There have been huge bumps in the road and my sense of empowerment has left me multiple times. My track record for getting back up has been flawless despite the amount of times I have fallen down. If you are reading this, your track record is exactly the same. I am learning that one of the hardest things about living with chronic pain is that the hardships we face (non health related) make the management of pain close to impossible at times. I am struggling with my sense of empowerment at the moment and it is a very awful feeling. However, if I know anything it is that I will feel empowered again and the trials and tribulations of life do not last forever. My life due to chronic pain has been anything but easy but if I can learn to manage chronic pain naturally and make a happy life for myself despite the invisible illness, anything is possible. Empowerment is so crucial to being happy and living a good life and my goal right now is to gain that sense back. The bad news: it is not easy. The good news: I have no doubt that it will come back. All of you reading this will gain a sense of empowerment despite chronic pain, it is just very hard to believe that is true. Life is a journey and most of the times as much as we want answers we do not have the answers to our future. If all you have at this very moment is hope than that is enough. You are doing the very best you can and you will get through your struggle, the hardest part is not knowing when or how. One day, maybe soon you will say: “Actually, I can” and believe those three words: that is empowerment.