Pain; It’s such a subjective word. Everyone has a different threshold for it, and sometimes you don’t even realize your ability to handle pain until you’re being faced with it head on. Sometimes I take a step back and I am in awe that I go through my days with this pain that would’ve been intolerable to me five years ago. At the very beginning of this journey it was too much for me to bear, but slowly my body went into survival mode. I knew that I had to develop thicker skin if I was going to get through this. I knew that I had to raise my pain tolerance and it’s almost like my body did it as a second instinct for protection.
It’s funny isn’t it? How this perception of pain can change and our bodies can adapt to handle situations we never thought we were strong enough for. It leads me to ask, where does strength come from? 18-year-old Christina cried over a scuffed knee or the common cold. 22-year-old Christina had gallbladder surgery without a drop of pain medicine & not one single tear. And now at 25 I can honestly say most my tears are simply from sheer frustration. The pain doesn’t bring me to my knees; it’s the inability to stop it or understand it that drives me to break down in my weakest moments.
When it comes to pain I think anyone with a chronic illness learns to negotiate with his or her mind to get through it. “Dear body, if you can just let me get a break, one small tiny break to breathe and get my bearings then I can take on the rest tomorrow.” I’ve laid in bed rationalizing things like that so that it doesn’t consume me. Managing pain becomes a mind game. You can’t let yourself think too much about the facts. You can’t think about the fact that you don’t know when it will stop or else you’ll go mad. You can’t think about the fact that you have no control over it, or else it will take over you. You have to consciously bargain with yourself to only focus on the now, and take it hour-by-hour, day-by-day. It’s the only way to survive.
And when the pain does subside, if even for a moment, you relish it. And you think to yourself, “This I am okay with. If this pain stays at a 3 or a 4 like this I’ll be fine. Just please dear body don’t go back to a 10 again, not today, I can’t take it today.” And sometimes in those moments I think to myself how crazy it is that I am actually bargaining and agreeing to live with a pain on a scale of 4, because that to me almost feels normal. And truth be told the utter lack of pain sometimes feels like an impossible request. It seems like some kind of unattainable fantasy world that I used to live in which I can’t remember anymore. So I settle for the 4… I tell myself, like I have told myself for so many years, that this will be okay. I can get through the minute, the hour, the day on this 4. And when I lay my head down on my pillow at night, after a long day of negotiations, I say a prayer, close my eyes, and know the tomorrow I will have to start the hard bargaining all over again. You see, pain never rests, it never gives up the fight…and because of that neither will I.