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Stronger than Monsters: Chronic Pain

(Trigger Warning: Addresses thoughts of death.)

Before a sprained ankle which turned into the chronic pain disease they call Complex Regional Pain Syndrome changed my life at 22 years old, I never knew anyone could feel that much pain. After the doctors told me that this would be PERMANENT, I thought, “I cannot go on like this.”

When I learned that the pain of CRPS can spread all over the entire body and into the organs, I said, “I refuse to live that way.”

Other survivors told me of their broken un-moving bodies from the damage and spreading of CRPS over time and I knew: I would never be able to endure it.

Even in all of my pain, I knew there was so much more to be had. If I was at my breaking point of what I could tolerate then, the future I was promised would never be one I could shoulder.

Fear and doubt spread into me like the pain biting into my body. The fire in my bones was a kindling waiting to ignite the rest of the forest. The pain living inside of me was a monster whispering promises of pain and ensuring me a future of horrors. I knew I could not live through it.

*

All of my nightmares came to visit me. More, in fact. The years I spent in fear of the pain to come could have never prepared me for the obliteration of my senses which would ensue in these recent years. I cannot say I am still standing, but to say I am still here and just to be coherently typing this is a tremendous miracle, celebration and gift. Yes, even in worse pain than ever before, and much worse than I could have ever imagined- it is still a gift.

The thing about pain is that most people see the other side of it. You go through the hard parts and crawl out on the other side feeling stronger. But what if the worst pain you ever felt was a only a promise of more terrible things to come? That is what some illnesses like RSD, CRPS, MS, ALS, Chiari Malformation, and Arthritis often are: degenerative, debilitating and extraordinarily painful.

I thought I saw into my future of pain, but I could never have foreseen exactly THIS.

This journey has been unique to me as now I realize everyone’s is. I so feared my future because I believed mine would look like someone else’s that I had read about online or was told of in a doctor’s office, but no one’s life is so simple. I have met more unimaginable monsters– but I have survived all of them when I once was sure I couldn’t bear my first few years of chronic pain. I used to live each moment in fear of the future and now that the future has come to pass, how can I continue living in fear? I have fought worse monsters than I was preparing to battle, and I am more grateful to be living now and less fearful than ever before.

Don’t expect the worst. But if your worst comes, don’t assume you know how you will weather it. The strength and resources come at the step you need them, not years or months ahead. Have faith. You are so much stronger than you know.

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“Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

Isaiah 40:31

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

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Featured artwork by Born in November. Thank you to the artist for allowing her powerful, striking photograph You Could Feel the Sky to be displayed here. Please go to her shop and buy one of her conceptual art images or visit her home decor shop to purchase a gift for the holidays.

thelastsparrow.etsy.com

Etsy.com/shop/borninnovember

Mask: Poem by Guestblogger

At the End of the Day by BorninNovember on Etsy | "Mask" poem on aBodyofHope.wordpress.com #spoonie #inspiration #art

BorninNovember ~ Etsy

~Mask~

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person.

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person in pain.

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person in agony.

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person in fear.

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person crying inside.

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person who feels the judgment.

Somewhere behind this smile

Lies a person.

*

Would you think differently

If the smile was gone?

If you could see the pain?

If you could feel their agony?

If you could feel their fears?

If you could see their tears?

If you knew of all the harsh words?

*

Sometimes the person you see

Is not the person at all.

Sometimes the smiles you see

Are nothing more than a mask.

Sometimes what you are allowed to see

Is only the illusion of what they want you to see.

Sometimes what you see

Is nothing more than what’s allowed to be.

*

You see, we live in a world…

A world that forgets what really should be.

A world that forgets how unique we all were meant to be.

A place where we place value on things that will fade,

Instead of loving the things that will stay.

*

So we create this mask.

We hide behind it.

Not allowing our lives to be the way He created.

At times we take it off.

But too often we leave it on.

Trying to live up to an expectation

Of so many things we are not.

*

It’s funny how we are the first to say,

“It’s ok, tomorrow is another day.”

Only to punish ourselves for needing that extra day.

*

You see, when you deal with illness: Chronic, Terminal, Disabilities…

You, at times, see yourself as the world has defined.

Instead of seeing yourself as HE has defined.

*

My challenge for you…

Take off that mask, even just for a moment, a day or two.

Allow yourself to be

Exactly how God designed you to be.

Don’t feel ashamed.

Don’t feel you are anything less.

You are simply the Best!

*

For those who love you,

For those who care,

They will be there.

They will care.

No matter what Mask you decide to wear.

-written by Kristen Braatz

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Kristen Braatz is a writer of poetry, loving mother, Chronic Pain survivor, and has other chronic illnesses. She is involved in her church and in the online chronic pain support community. Two of her favorite passages are Isaiah 45:9-10Isaiah 40:28-31. I am so grateful she is the first guest contributor to A Body of Hope!

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At the End of the Day by BorninNovember on Etsy | "Mask" poem on aBodyofHope.wordpress.com #spoonie #inspiration #art

BorninNovember ~ Etsy

At The End of The Day” by artist BorninNovember on Etsy.

Please visit her extraordinary shop to purchase original artwork and prints and view her fine art collection on Flickr.

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