I have read the book: “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green more than once along with every book he has written. I did not want to see the movie because I could not imagine it being ten percent close to being as amazing as his book. However, yesterday my husband and I rented it for our date day. WOW. The movie exceeded any expectations I had felt and banished any pre-conceived notions that it could not come close to the greatness of the novel. I have written many times in this blog the above quote: “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” I agree with this quote to an extent. When I had brain surgery of course that was physically painful and the pain demanded to be felt. Seeing my mom crying as they were wheeling me in for immediate brain surgery because there was blood leaking out through the right side and I had waited too long to get to the hospital being the stubborn Jessica I was (am) caused me emotional pain that was demanded to be felt. Saying goodbye to my dad as they cut off my clothes and seeing a tear drop from his eye even though he was trying to be strong for me broke my heart: pain that was demanded to be felt. Now, that I am a mother I cannot imagine how painful and scary that moment had to be for my dad. There was a chance he would lose his only daughter, his best friend, his life. I honestly believe at that moment he felt more pain than I did, even as I too knew this was beyond serious. Clearly, I got through the surgery and although it was a slow recovery here I am: living a life with chronic pain but not allowing pain to rule my life. I do not want chronic pain to demand to be felt, it controlled my life for way too many years. Some pain demands to be felt but not forever.
I am never going to compare my accident, brain surgery, or life with chronic pain to living a life with cancer. However, there are many correlations I got from the movie that I did not catch from the book. I am a visual person and the acting in this movie was so amazing that the book came to life and I felt connected to both Augustus and Hazel. As my husband and I were watching the movie I said: “This is it. This is what I am trying to show the world about living a happy, joyful life despite chronic pain.” He said: “I know Jess. One of your quotes that is on our wall ‘It is not the years in your life but the life in your years.’ I can see that.” It actually was not at all what I was thinking but as I think about his words, he was close. We both truly loved the movie. At the end of the movie, my husband said jokingly: “Awesome movie Jess. Our first hours just us in months without Kayci (our two year old) and we watch the saddest movie possible.” I laughed as he is extremely funny, especially when we are alone but I also said adamantly: “It is not that sad of a movie, in fact it is quite happy once you really think about it.” The two main characters in this movie: Augustus and Hazel both had terminal cancer at an extremely young age, so I understand how unfair and awful that is. I cannot imagine and I truly choose not to as motherhood has truly proven how scary life can be. However, Augustus and Hazel found so much joy in each other and the little things even during the darkest, scariest hours of their lives. Most people never find a true love as the love they found in one another. They were in their late teens and shared the most real, passionate, heart felt love that most couples sadly never have in forty years of marriage. They found joy in the simplest things because they knew their time in this world was short and refused to take life for granted. Hence the quote: “Without pain, how could we know joy?” My beliefs about what happens when we pass are my beliefs and many do not feel this way but I do believe we lead many lives and I know we do not just die and that is it. There is a life after death: what that is I do not know but it is there. I do not want to find it anytime soon but the past few years have shown me that this is just one of our journeys and we do exist after we pass.
Chronic pain sucks, I am ever going to sugar coat how freaking awful it can be to live in pain twenty four seven with no cure. However, there is a difference between pain and suffering. Do not get me wrong, at times chronic pain still causes suffering in my life but the suffering does not last even though the pain is there. I know what it is like to come close to death. I know what it is like to want to end your life because of constant physical pain that is incurable. I also know how precious life is and I truly am a much more grateful, empathetic, loving person because of my journey with chronic pain. My journey on this world so far was not what I signed up for but this is my life. I appreciate the simplest things and all that really matters to me is health, simplicity, and happiness. Do not get me wrong, I would love to win a million dollars and buy new clothes and take a month trip to an island but just being able to do my workout this morning and use my favorite veggies and fruits to make a smoothie is enough. Chronic pain is not a death sentence. Sadly the two amazing character from this book knew they did not have a long time to live due to cancer. What would you do if you knew you had a limited time here? Because, in essence we do not know what tomorrow holds and in all honesty we may have limited time. I never thought I would fall off my bike after renting a movie on a sunny June day. If you told me at the age of thirteen I would fall into a stone wall, walk home from the accident with broken bones and a brain that was bleeding inside, I would have laughed. If someone told me at that age I would end up having brain surgery, lose my hair, and spend months in recovery, I would have thought this person was nuts. I definitely never would have believed I would live a life with chronic pain and actually find a fulfilling life despite pain. Life can change in mere seconds. “Without pain, we would not be able to find joy.” Because of my hardships I am able to find joy in the simple things like watching a movie with my husband for two hours eating apples with peanut butter. Appreciate the little things and try and not take anything for granted. If you are in your darkest hours of chronic pain please know that you will come through this. It is a fact. No rush and honestly be sad, angry, and confused. You are allowed. I lived in misery for ten years because of chronic pain. I only ask that you read my story and know that one day you too can live a happy life despite chronic pain. You too will find more joy than most people are ever able to find as they have never felt the pain you have.