“It’s okay to be a glow stick, sometimes we need to break before we can shine.”
I tried to escape chronic pain and my life by just maxing out a credit card and flying to Boulder, Colorado from New Jersey after my sophomore year in college. I realized then, that one cannot escape their problems by running away: they follow us wherever we go even to the above picture: a place I dreamt of visiting but never imagined my trip to Breckinridge, Colorado would be so depressing and push me to edge of wanting to die. I love Colorado: I so wish that I was not in my darkest hours of chronic pain while living in one of the most amazing places in the world. I lived in Boulder, Denver, and took trips to surrounding states such as Nevada and Kansas. It would take us two hours to spend the day and night in the hot springs and sleep where the famous movie: “The Shining ” was filmed. Colorado is the place where I came closer to death than even brain surgery but it is also where my life was saved. Breckinridge, Colorado has some of the most famous hot and cold springs in Colorado and I heard about all of these healing waters that could save you and hell, I was willing to try anything at this point in my journey with chronic pain and so we drove one day to the town of Breckinridge: beautiful is not a strong enough word for this town nor is expensive. The first thing I remember doing there was going to an Oxygen bar. I know they are common now and can even be found on the board walks of New Jersey but in the year 2001, they were not so popular. I honestly thought for a split second the Oxygen would help my pain; maybe we had already started drinking: who knows. But clearly an Oxygen bar did not take away my pain: bars with alcohol did though.
Now, here is the moment that when I think back to it I can literally feel the pain in my heart and soul again: this may have been one of my breaking points. Anyone with chronic pain knows how vital ice packs are right? I lived on ice packs. I think our refrigerator was only filled with some boxed dinners, Vodka and ice packs. It was rare to find me without one or two ice packs on my face. If I was not using an ice pack, I was rubbing my face. I later learned these are called ‘pain behaviors.’ Pain behaviors are anything a person does to remind themselves and/or others he or she is in pain. This could be massaging your back, using ice packs, constantly grunting in pain: literally anything that draws attention to your pain. As I wrote before, Breckinridge is known for both their hot and cold springs. When I say cold, I mean frigid but not frozen: the healing waters. Following the Oxygen bar, we walked to one of the many cold springs. I remember feeling so much pain that I could not wait to dunk my head in the cold spring as it would feel even better than an ice pack lying on my face. It was winter and although winters are (n my opinion) warmer than the winters we have in New Jersey it is still cold, close to the sun or not. There was a little bit of snow but just enough to make the surroundings that much more beautiful. Holy cold hell: I dunked my head into this water and it was cold and I mean cold. Cold enough to actually hurt but that hurt beat my usual pain by ten. I enjoyed being in pain when it was not because of chronic pain. I believe we all do. It hurt but it also felt good. I continued to splash the water onto my face and head and dunk my head into this water as I shivered from the cold air and being wet for close to an hour. I remember screaming inside my head: TAKE AWAY MY CHRONIC PAIN PLEASE!!!! I DON”T WANT TO DIE. Clearly, it did not work and right afterwards my friends and I went to a bar bar and I drowned my sorrows. Drinking wasn’t fun for me: I just liked that it took away the physical pain for those hours but the emotional pain only increased. A few weeks later I was in my Explorer driving to Rochester, MN where my life would finally begin.
Everyone knows my dreams: to have more children and to be a published writer helping as many people suffering from chronic pain as I can. I also want to go back to Breckinridge, Colorado to both the hot and cold springs and see them through clear, happy, sober, healthy eyes. I love where we live because we live near the beaches and my family is here and we live in the home where my Grandmother (La La) wanted me to one day: “have lots of babies and raise a family in her house.” I love that we live on a lake and it is one of the best areas to have a family. However, I loved Colorado despite my disease and despite that for the most part of my life there I was trying to end my life. I want to take my loved ones to all the places I loved with such a passion but because chronic pain controlled my life, I was unable to enjoy them. I want to go to that same cold spring just to feel and look at the water with no pain behaviors and no expectations of pain relief because I do not need that anymore. II have come a long way since that day in Breckinridge, Colorado and I cannot wait to one day take my family and kids to Colorado and actually spend a week there living as opposed to surviving.