I’m overwhelmed with endless appreciation for the personal growth that 2011 has delivered to me. Gratefully, I’ve made it through another year of daily chronic intestinal pain, which also comes with daily lessons. Both 2010 and 2011 have been quite humbling. Perhaps this is what it takes for me to learn on a deeper level. Not only to see others more clearly, but to see myself more clearly as well.
Today is New Year’s Day 2012 and I started my day by going to a new church. Felt right to be there.
Challenges bring more blessings for me to see – and while I’m counting my blessings and thanking God then I will once more find my gratitude. Counting blessings + thanking God = gratitude. Then I am able to become okay in the moment no matter what my level of pain may be.
I have learned that is it is possible to have a blessed life even if I must live with chronic pain. And to be unemployed and live with chronic pain – is quite instrumental in learning who the for-real people in my life are. I am lucky to say that I do have best friends who know of my present challenges and they too have their own full life and real challenges of their own. That’s life. So, it’s nice to know I can call God. To learn to rely on God and ask for His help and guidance all day long is a good thing. Let’s just say, when I call on God, I never end up sent to a voice mail. I mean, can you imagine if I called my best friends all day long? Leaving weepy sounding voice mail messages? Or sending sad face text messages all day? I believe this would be called harassment, right? Good thing it is not possible to harass God. I happen to know that He doesn’t care how many times a day I call Him. The more I call and ask for His help, the better I can function.
I’ve learned first hand about living with chronic pain. It can change a person. Change their life. Change their choices. I never really understood people who were sick often, until now. Believe me no one wants to be sick and have to stay home in bed. I wonder what ever happened to the Get Well card anyway?! Perhaps I’ll just send one to myself via US Mail.
“Physical illness” makes different choices to survive the morning than “physical health” does. Physical health chooses dashing off to meet a friend for breakfast, or take a yoga class. Or go to work for the day. Physical illness, and the pain that joins it, chooses to deal with fatigue by skipping that shower again. A shower and blow drying my hair uses up my limited amount of energy. And then I have to try to not think that I’ve noticed my hair is thinning out. I decide to trim about 4 inches off the length of my long hair thinking it won’t look so bad. I used to think it was ok looking. Physical illness asks God for help to survive the first hour of the day. Physical illness asks through the heaviness of depression, “Can I do this one more day?” If we ask, God will help us hang on to our bed like it is a life raft lost in the ocean.
And when yet another doctor told me there was nothing more he could do for me – I sat there feeling the pain slowing gnawing away at my insides – literally feeling like they are wearing away like an old dead spark-plug in an engine with no fluids. I rested on my couch too numb to know what my next choice should be. 5 doctors in less than 3 years told me “I had to live with this intestinal pain. Every one gets an upset stomach from time to time.” My depression hit a serious level. . . It was this same day a dear friend called me out of the blue. She had heard I was still quite ill – she offered her help and her plan. I don’t remember what I said, I probably cried, but I heard her make a commitment to me. She picked me up and drove me to her doctor who is about an hour from my house. I do not remember ever having someone help me and sit next to me the whole time like this. . . Not even when I was married, pregnant and gave birth to my son. . . Her help leaves me feeling quiet. Humble. Speechless with tears. I was feeling incredibly weak like a rag doll made of lead. Only after about 6 weeks with this new compassionate doctor, we are just starting to find some answers, a small piece to the puzzle, but like a broken leg in a cast, it will take time for my intestine to heal. I have faith and patience with the process. I have regained my hope.
I had a brief and beautiful reminder of what it is like to be “pain free“. I had literally forgotten the feeling of no pain – to feel “no physical pain” even if for a minute – to me it is like the feeling I had long ago of being in love. It’s euphoric. Feeling no pain – is a magical exciting miracle to me – even if only for a short moment. I don’t mind waiting for another pain free moment, because it is so awesome.
Living with chronic intestinal pain has given me the opportunity to see things in my life from a different perspective. The big important encompassing things in my life just aren’t as important as I once thought. When I finally surrender my grip on this so-called importance, then the invisible power over me slithers away. Freedom. Joy. A burden lifted. I have down sized my life. A simple life is a good life.
The old cliché of “have a happy and healthy new year” holds an honest and special meaning that I take to heart every time I hear the words. I let it gently land on me. I feel it down to my tender and raw gut – absolutely – I will have a happy and healthy 2012. I have close real friends who care more than I ever realized. And that is the biggest blessing of all. And I know more blessings are in store in 2012. Yes, it will be a happy and healthy new year.