South Africa: Pain Taught Me Contentment

South Africa: Pain Taught Me Contentment

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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

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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SPECIAL REPORT: A Modern-Day Story of Hospital Abuse

6a00d8357f3f2969e2017d419af365970c-250wiI’d like to introduce you to Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year-old boy who lives with his mother, Dorothy. Alex is not like most 14-year-old boys. He has severe autism with cognitive impairment, and he is non-verbal. Like many kids with autism, he experiences periodic disruptions to his sleep.

A few months ago, Alex’s sleep disturbances got serious enough for him to be become agitated and aggressive. This coincided with the onset of severe gastrointestinal symptoms, like constipation alternating with diarrhea. In the middle of February, his mother took him to Gottlieb hospital in Illinois, USA. He was in excruciating pain, which manifested as aggression.

For 13 days, Alex was kept in locked restraints, only being released to use the bathroom. Bear in mind that this kid was suffering from constipation, diarrhea and vomiting. He tried to communicate when he was getting sick by screaming, but staff frequently didn’t release him in time and he would have to lie in his own vomit for several minutes at a time. He would be allowed to use the bathroom, and then he would be wiped down and returned to the restraints.

During this time, Alex was given a cocktail of drugs that were not helping, and repeated pleas by his mother for his allergies to be considered fell on deaf ears, even as his skin became raw from allergy-induced dermatitis. He was not formally admitted to the hospital, nor was a proper treatment plan devised for him.

Are you horrified yet? Brace yourself, because the story continues. (more…)

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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GUEST POST: Grief: What We’re Not Supposed To Talk About

GUEST POST: Grief: What We’re Not Supposed To Talk About

I’m not going to apologize for being sad.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how it has been two weeks, 15 days to be exact, since my miscarriage (well, finding out about it anyway). And how although I have so many friends who have been supportive and such, I sense that the general feeling in our culture, when death happens, or a loss occurs, is to “get over it”.

Scattered throughout my days I hear these messages whispered in my ear..

 move on

occupy your time

stay busy

you will get over this

I suppose in some ways I’m telling myself those things. I know people mean well. It’s just in our culture to stick a band-aid on things that are wounded and keep on going.

But you know what? I don’t want to get over it. Not right now. Nope. I’m sitting down right here on the ground and crossing my legs in the sand. I don’t care if it has been two weeks, or six… or two years or a decade. Maybe never. (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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