One of the most challenging realities of living with chronic pain is coping with uncertainties big and small:
- If I go on a hike, even a short one, will I be able to make it back, or will my ankle/knee/back give out far away from my car?
- Will I have enough energy to get out of bed tomorrow morning and accomplish what desperately needs to get done?
- Given the hypersensitivity of my body, how long will a minor bump, bruise, or accident put me out of commission?
- Is leaving the safety of my controlled home environment worth the risk?
- Given my physical and energetic limitations, will I continue to survive next month, next year, next decade?
These are just some of the questions that plague me. And here’s the super sucky thing:
By nature I am a risk-taker. But since absorbing the impact of practitioner negligence and random events that left me with chronic and, for stretches of months at a time, debilitating pain, my world has become smaller.
And smaller. And smaller.
And so this young woman who once…
- hit men when then sexually harassed her, because she had zero tolerance for any shade of violence against women
- moved to Israel amidst a wave of suicide bombings, because her heart refused to succumb to terror
- intervened in every incident of child abuse she witnessed, even when the abuser came after her
…barely left her house for several recent years, not only because of physical limitations but also because of debilitating fear.
Most of the time, I am able to stay focused on the present: Whatever happened happened, and I can’t change it. All I can do is make use of every resource available to me, step to the plate, and live at the edge of my abilities.
But other times, like today, I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all:
- the way the carelessness of doctors turned my life upside down
- the way that simple pleasures — like jumping out of bed in the morning, eager to start the day — were yanked from my grasp
- the way physical limitation has left me unable to work for months at a time
- the way I’ve shelled out about $150,000 in health care bills in the past decade alone
- the way these circumstances have led to my seemingly eternal five- or six-digit credit card debt
Everyone lives with uncertainty (and I’m fully aware of and grateful for the privileges I have that other people don’t), but living with chronic pain significantly jacks up the uncertainty factor.
And sometimes, well, I’m just plain scared.