Who am I - why pain cannot win
As I sit to write this I am feeling very low. Unfortunately I do not have to look far to find things to be upset about. For breakfast today, I ate a couple of gluten free (GF) cookies. This wasn’t by choice, it’s because I have no GF bread or GF breakfast cereal and I am tired of eating eggs. We have no bacon, so even eating bits of bacon without bread was not an option. I spent the morning tidying the house, washing dishes, letting the dogs out and in then back out and in, doing laundry and making appointments for family members. Not the way I expected to be living when I was 60. Well 59, I am not 60 until next month.
This past week, my life was a little easier than some weeks. But that does not mean it was that easy, it had its ups and downs and downs. Let me take you through my week. On Sunday, my eldest son had a major family crisis to deal with and we helped him get through it and then had his family stay for Sunday dinner. Both a negative and a positive in one fell swoop.
Monday was Labor Day and we piled some of my at home children and our second son and family into our Suburban and headed to Park City. We didn’t actually make it to Park City because we turned off at Henifer, which is on the Mormon trail into Salt lake City. We followed the pioneer trail and talked about how amazing it is that the pioneers managed it. They were so close to their destination, but still had several large mountains to negotiate. From the top of Big Mountain you can see the valley but also the little mountains on and in the way. In a car, it was a hard journey. With a covered wagon or handcart, it was a very very difficult, almost impossible. In 1846, the Donner Reid party found it too difficult .They left Fort Bridger, Wyoming, having decided to follow the advice of a promoter called Lansford W. Hastings and blaze a new trail through the mountains, around the Great Salt Lake and across the desert wasteland to California. They were told the route would save them 200 miles, but were not told of the rugged mountains and the lack of grass and water. Unfortunately, the route was neither shorter nor safer and turned out to be a nightmare for the pioneers in the party. Once they reached the canyons, close to the Great Salt Lake they began blasting a path through them. After 16 days of effort they had managed to move just 36 miles and there still seemed to be no possibility of blasting through to the valley. They decided to give up and try a different route. To do this, they needed to go straight up the side of the almost vertical mountains. The canyon sides were so steep, they had to yoke all their oxen to a single wagon just to haul it up. They spent nearly 21 days getting their party out The delay was catastrophic, as they were exhausted, way behind schedule and still facing the ordeal of the desert. Eventually, unusually early snows caught them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Many of the party of 87 men, women and children died in an ordeal of cold, starvation and cannibalism before the remainder made it through to California.
Amazingly, the Mormon pioneers who followed the Donner-Reed Party almost exactly one year later, spent just four hours blasting their way the final few miles through to the valley.
In our powerful Suburban, we fairly easily drove into the valley of the Great Salt Lake and down to the This is the Place park. We then went to the Crossroads shopping mall. A positive here is that we left without spending money.
In the morning, before ‘not heading’ to Park City, we acquired a hedgehog from hedgehog rescue. That makes three dogs, a cat, a hedgehog as well as 5 children aged 16 ,14, 13 ,12 and 5 who I have to provide service to daily. And I don't like dogs! But that's another story, my wife and children do and that's why we have 3 of the lovely creatures.
On Tuesday, I was back doing the school run, taking the older 4 children to their school 8 miles south of our home. An hour later, I drove 15 miles southeast of home and took two of them to the doctors. I then took our youngest to kindergarten, which is 6 miles north of home. I dropped one of the older children back at school and picked a different one up and took them to the dentist's office which is about 5 miles east of the school. I then returned to school to bring the children all home. I drove about 100 miles but was never more than 15 miles from home.
On Wednesday, the hedgehog went missing. It had managed to climb out of its cage and we spent the next hour or two searching for it. We eventually found it in a part of the sofa only reached by turning it up side down and dismantling it. We have taken steps to prevent any further escape attempts. I also put the sofa back together.
On Thursday, I forgot to take my pain medicines and was unable to do anything until lunchtime when I realized my mistake and took them. It takes a couple of hours for them to take effect, so I was pretty much out of it for a lot of the day.
On Friday, I did the school runs and took our youngest to a birthday party.
On Saturday, we went to the Peach Days celebration in Brigham City, possibly the best of all the celebrations we have in Northern Utah.
On top of all this, I did the normal stuff that has to be done when you are a stay at home parent; the laundry, meals, tidying up etc. I did all of this while desperately tired and in a huge amount of pain caused by the RSD I suffer from. To add to my depression my books are not selling, I am not getting visitors to my web site and money is running out faster than the month is.
And this was a pretty good week.
No win situation
There are about 205 bones in the human body, 100 in the hands and feet, of which I have broken 10. I have also managed to set fire to my self, burning my hands and face. I broke nothing this last week and I have not set fire to myself, so last week was a good week, Yes? I could easily argue I have every right to feel miserable and despondent, couldn’t I? Well yes, but what is the benefit of sitting here feeling glum? I could lie down and be sad, but I can’t lie down without the pain levels increasing. This is why I can’t sleep at night.
I seem to be left in a complete no win situation, don’t I?
Again, yes. So what do I do? The following statements are true for me:-
- There is nothing I can do to make the pain go away.
- There is nothing I can do to sleep at night.
- There is nothing I can do to improve my mood
Mountain too big?
The first two statements are true, but the last statement is not. The only way I can manage is if I do something to improve my mood. So, the world, my world, is not good; in fact, it is very crappy. My only choice is to find a way to improve my mood and make my life worth living. The mountain is either too big, impossible to climb or we are going to beat it. There are only 2 choices to the question "Are you happy?". Answer one, Yes. Then you can leave things as they are. Answer two, No. Then change something!
So who am I?
Who am I? A question asked by many of us over the course of human history, most often in response to the question, “Who are you?” This bear doesn't care who you think he is, as long as you will give him some of that food you have been given to give to the bears.
One answer to the question of “who am I?” is obvious for me. I am the guy with RSD, the one with a chronic pain condition who never sleeps. This defines me and is who I am, right?
Yes and no. It is only one definition of me. The pain exists but it does not define me! The pain is not mine, I do not own the pain, it is just an unpleasant fact similar to the fact that our smallest dog barks a lot or the hedgehog seems capable of pooping everywhere it goes. it is something that has to be dealt with. A mountain that has to be climbed no matter how tired I feel, no matter how much it hurts!
If I want to make something of what life has given me, the cards I have been dealt, if you like, I have to come up with a different definition of who I am. The one I do my best to use is the definition that says that I may be the guy with chronic pain who cannot sleep or even sit on a chair comfortably for very long, BUT more importantly, I am the person who does what needs to be done to ignore the negative and gets on with life anyway. I will not be beaten; there is no mountain high enough to stop me! There are others with their mountains to climb, some are succeeding, and others are sitting at the bottom begging for help and crying about how hard it is. I am willing to help them get going, but I refuse to join them. It can be dangerous down there, you never know when the bears may come out.
I am not the person I was before I had a disabling accident and never will be again. I AM disabled, in constant pain and on a different path now. However, I no longer mourn the loss of the material things that route would have brought me. I am not on the pathway to riches, the pathway with no pain. I accept the path I am on and will do whatever it takes to enjoy being on it. I will have other mornings similar to today, when everything feels dark and dismal and I am disheartened and unhappy, BUT I will not allow those feelings to stay. I will fight mentally and send those thoughts and feelings where they belong – on another pathway, not the one I am on. I can't sit in a corner and cry, sitting for too long hurts. I can't stand there either for the same reason and I already told you how lying down hurts. I will fight until I have conquered the mountains - and the ones that are hiding behind the ones I can see.
These last pictures were taken from my back deck.
I think they look beautiful in winter and in summer. If they had to be climbed to get where I needed to be, could I do it? Even if it meant being in worse pain and discomfort than I normally am, could I conquer them?
Are the mountains just beautiful? Can they be conquered as well or will they beat us?
I say beautiful and conquerable. What do you say?
Let me know what you think by commenting or emailing me at email@example.com