I received an email from one of my most dedicated readers yesterday who not only builds my self esteem but is so much stronger than she thinks. She wrote me to ask for help and guidance and I will quote on of her questions as I am sure so many of you (as I did) are searching for a cure or diagnosis to your invisible illness. “Jessica, my doctor told me yesterday something I have heard you say many times-at some point you have to stop searching for answers and a diagnosis. He said there will probably be no definitive diagnosis, just guesses and to keep searching may make it worse. It is a hard thing to accept and if I had not found your blog, I would not think it is possible. He suspects I have chronic fatigue syndrome but in the past thought I had fibromyalgia and the question of Lyme disease has also been there. This uncertainty is driving me mad. How do you get past all this? Since he mentioned chronic fatigue, I have been tiring myself out researching it. I need to move on from this! But how?”
First off, I would like to point out one of her above sentences: “Since he mentioned chronic fatigue, I have been tiring myself out researching it.” Exactly!!! Searching for a diagnosis and/or cure can be so counter productive in living a healthy, happy life despite chronic pain. Would it matter if she had a doctor diagnose her with a definite “disease?” Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, RSD, etc are basically in essence all the same thing. Pain is pain. Of course you have chronic fatigue, you have chronic pain! Of course you have anxiety and depression, you have chronic pain. At what point do you stop going to doctors for a diagnosis, or cure? People ask me that all the time. One of my best friends, Kayci’s Godmother in fact asked me a year ago: “Why did you stop searching for a cure? You could have no pain, there has to be an answer.” I spent over ten years looking for an answer or cure and searching increased my pain month by month, year by year until my entire life revolved around chronic pain and a search for help. I declared medical bankruptcy years ago because of all the doctors, surgeons, dentists, chiropractors, neurologists, hypnotists, massage therapists, medications, allergists, and the many ER visits because of pain levels or extreme anxiety attacks I had battling chronic pain and searching for a cure. I had no life. I had no hope. Each injection, nerve ending cut, medication, etc. left me in more pain, with less hope and an urge to just end my life.
My life began once I hit rock bottom in my search for a cure. I’ll never forget the day I drove to Minnesota from Colorado. I was lying on a mattress in Boulder, CO where I lived with a bunch of college students. I had a sinus infection and could not stop crying as I looked at all the red wine stains on the floor and heard the noise of all my housemates partying and dancing. A close friend of mine at the time saw my pain and literally got on a computer researched the best hospitals and found the Mayo Clinic in MN. One day later, I was in the car driving to Rochester, MN. After hearing from the head neurologist that I had chronic pain (first time anyone gave me any honest answer) I went into the Pain Rehab Center and never looked for a cure again. I had to make an entire lifestyle change which I literally still live by each day. That was ten years ago. It took a lot of time and a lot of work but here I am: happy despite chronic pain. The pain is there but over time and with the use of many tools I rarely think about it and when it does get bad (usually because of extreme stress or overdoing things) I know that the next day will be better. If I had not stopped searching for a cure I would not be who I am now, I am not certain I would be alive to be honest. I have a degree in social work, I am married with a daughter who is the greatest gift in the world, and my dream of writing a book: “No One Gets Flowers for Chronic Pain” will happen, eventually. I am healthy (for the most part) I exercise, juice, eat well, practice meditation, and live a life that is regimented but my life is pretty good despite bumps in the road. I am very simplistic and I do not need much to be happy. I don’t need jewelry, fancy clothes, make-up, a nice car, etc. I am alive and managing chronic pain naturally and it no longer rules my life. One cannot put a price tag on that. I have hope and faith and know the rest of my dreams will come to fruition in their own time and when I least expect it. A lot can happen in a year.
So the question I was proposed by this amazing person is: “I need to move on from this. How?” I am going to give my personal opinion, which many will disagree with but I must be honest: stop searching for a diagnosis, do not google any illness because I promise you in ten minutes you will honestly start thinking you have a rare form or Cancer with days to live, find a therapist who specializes in chronic pain who will then hopefully lead you to a wellness center or somewhere to learn how to manage chronic pain naturally. I so wish I could take all of you into my home and teach you in person how to live a life with chronic pain naturally. If I ever win the lottery or Ellen randomly knocks on my door I am opening a center to teach what I was blessed to be taught.
This post is dedicated to B. You do not realize how close you are to starting your life. A year from now I cannot wait to talk to you. You are almost at a point of acceptance which is going to lead you to health and happiness despite pain. I am here for all of you. You are not alone and I promise you, if I can live with chronic pain and be happy anyone can!