South Africa: Pain Taught Me Contentment
PAIN, a short, seemingly innocuous word with a myriad of meanings.
Right now, for me, pain is central to my existence. No matter what I do, it nags at me like an incessant demanding toddler. It robs me of my concentration, of my memory, of my strength. Yet, if you were to see me, you would have no idea of the war raging inside my body. I smile politely and do what needs to be done, because I still feel blessed.
You’re probably shaking your head and wondering what medication I’m on. Let me explain. Many years ago I had no physical pain but I was clinically depressed. Anyone who has experienced depression will tell you that it’s a numbness that’s so much worse than the strongest pain anyone could experience. When I was at my worst, I was completely unable to function. It took many years of trial and error with different therapies, doctors and medications (including a month in a Psychiatric Clinic) before I truly came out of that quagmire I was stuck in.
My “regular” Fibromyalgia pain reminds me that I’m alive and I can feel things again. I’ve been living with Fibromyalgia for a long time now. For the most part, I can pretty much ignore it because I know it’s not life-threatening. I see it more as an inconvenience, not even worth mentioning. Every once in a while I overdo things and I then I experience bad to really bad pain days. Those are the days when I find it hard to do even the most basic things.
I think human beings are very resilient. We quickly get used to living with chronic pain and/or fatigue and/or any other kind of disability. It becomes the new “normal” and you don’t really remember what it felt like “before”.
So, if I’m used to my Fibromyalgia, what pain am I referring to? I have Trigeminal Neuralgia on top of my Fibromyalgia and it’s no picnic, especially since there isn’t much you can do about it. This is the fourth time in my life that I’ve had a Trigeminal Neuralgia “flare up”. In the past it normally went away after about a week. This time it has come and doesn’t want to leave. It’s been 3 weeks and counting. Surprisingly, I’ve pretty much gotten used to it too.
Believe it or not, what finally broke me down, reduced me to tears and sent me to the ER was lower abdominal pain. A new pain, one that I’d never felt before. It turns out I have an ovarian cyst and enlarged left ovary. Again, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal. It’s not life-threatening. They often clear up on their own. The positive side of going to the ER was that I was given a wonderful injection (sorry, can’t remember what it was) but for 12 hours I felt NO pain of any kind from anything at all. I’d forgotten what no pain felt like. It was like a holiday.
Yes, I’m in a lot of pain right now, but I’m still blessed. I’m blessed because I don’t have a terminal illness and will likely live to meet my grandchildren one day. I’m blessed because I have two awesome children that I am extremely proud of and with whom I have a great relationship. I’m blessed because I have a husband / best friend / partner who has truly stuck by me for richer for poorer (often poorer) in sickness and in health (often sickness) has never complained about it, and loves me despite it all. I’m blessed because none of this has kicked me back down the bottomless black hole of depression … and, because of all this, I am CONTENT.
Of course I’d love to be pain free – or (at least) back to only my “regular” pain, but this is proof positive that contentment doesn’t come from exterior circumstances. More than anything else, this understanding is the reason that I am happy that this has happened to me.
One of my favourite Dr Phil quotes is: “No matter how flat you make a pancake, it has two sides.” Indeed it does, EVERYTHING does. What I have discovered is that there are truly positives and negatives to everyone, everything, and every situation. If you are able to see and accept the duality, you’ll always be content!
Have you ever experienced anything that at first seemed really bad but then something really good came out of it?
Mamma Simona lives in Cape Town with her husband, her daughter, two cats and two dogs. Her son recently moved to Germany.
Photo credit to Susie Newday