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Christmas with Chronic Pain

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“All I want for Christmas is a cure”

Unknown but seen EVERYWHERE

I have always been described as overly sensitive yet extremely enthusiastic.  I love holidays, especially Christmas more than your average person in their thirties.  I began decorating our home before Thanksgiving just to be able to soak in the magic of Christmas for as long as possible.  My three year old and I (my rule for car music) only listen to Christmas Carols while driving.  she has now memorized the commercials on the station that only plays holiday music.  We have a game where we look for Christmas lights at night and see whose side of the car has more: she always wins as I do have to watch the road plus she is three, she always wins.  Yesterday, we went to see the play at our local theatre entitled: “The Snow Queen” which is actually what the hit Disney movie Frozen is based on.  As you can see in the above picture, Kayci is beyond engaged.  She was singing, laughing, and it was the first play (we have been to many kids plays) that she would not take her eyes off the stage.  She even used my favorite Kayci word: “beautiful.”  Each morning, I plug in the lights to our Christmas tree and every other Christmas decoration that requires electricity.  I light the Christmas candles and begin my routine.  Christmas does become more magical when you have children, how could it not?  Through a child’s eye, everything is more magical: throw in lights, Santa Claus, a  tree in the house, presents, music, cheer and plays and life just becomes magic twenty four seven.

However, for many people with chronic pain this is the most dreadful time of the year.  I hated Christmas for years when I was suffering from chronic pain.  I hated it because it was just one more thing that chronic pain stole from me.  I drank more with friends so that the physical pain would be numbed enough to enjoy some of the festivities but always ended up that night in bed, crying alone wondering how I would enjoy the best day of the year.  Yes, I got amazing gifts from my dad and other family members and no one understood why I was not more enthusiastic and happy.  I was so lucky to be blessed with such a giving father who at times spoiled me with tons of gifts under the tree.  What people did not understand was that I could not enjoy any of those gifts or the parties and traditions because all my world consisted of was physical pain.  I loved reading and I remember my dad buying me the book entitled: “The Lovely Bones.”  I had wanted to read that book so badly and yet when I tried, my mind went directly to pain and all I could do was cry.  All I wanted for Christmas was a cure to my disease: chronic pain.  No gift, no party, no Christmas tree would bring me joy because my life was pain.  Christmas only reminded me of how much I truly hated my life, my illness, and caused me more pain than joy.  It is hard to believe the person in the above picture still has chronic pain but is having a magical, wonderful season despite the illness.  However, I feel for all of you who are where I was for ten years ago at Christmastime and I understand why no gift, song, book, party, or person can make you happy right now because you are in the darkest depths of chronic pain.  Try and not feel the guilt that I did during those ten years because I know you have tons of guilt that is eating you alive.  You feel you are letting your loved ones down and feel un-grateful and are so angry with yourself that you cannot get your focus off of pain.  You did not ask for chronic pain and you must let go of that guilt.  Please, let it go.

There are so many days, years, and Christmas seasons ahead.  You will get to where I am now, you cannot force it but just do the best you can.  And to all of those who do not have chronic pain, please remember your loved ones are not being selfish or greedy: they are facing the hardest time of the year because they are supposed to be happy and feel as if they are letting you down.  This is when people with chronic pain need their loved ones the most.  The greatest gift you can give a love one with chronic pain is support and kind words: “I believe you” and “I cannot imagine what you are going through but I am here and I know you are doing the best you can.  We will get through this together.”

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