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What gifts have your pain challenges brought you?

downinmyheartddowninmyheart Posts: 497
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Matters of the Heart
So often we focus our thoughts, our energy on what pain has taken away from us. I do believe that we should accept, and allow, to grieve. I also believe that we should take the time to see what gifts our challenges (or opportunities for growth) bring us as well.

For example, I have been given many gifts over the last few months. I have been able to take the time to sit with myself, to know myself better. I have relished in the simple joy of breath. Each morning I wake, the first thing I do is take a deep breath and think thank on the inhale and you on the exhale. Granted I ache in the mornings. The ache of the ages has settled into my lower back and my hips. To counter this I start out with gratitude. The breath, a low flow heating pad, and a few gentle stretches allow me to get out of the bed.

I am historically a very strong and independant person. Many people rely on me to lead by example, to be the rock, the supporter, the force. Having to depend on others to do things as simple and intimate as clean my privates was extremely difficult for me. Extremely. I did however allow myself to feel that vunerablity, for the first time to let go of my shame. Relying on others to help me has healed many relationships. It has changed the way I think about myself.

My relationship with my daughter, my ex husband, my father, my husband, my siblings, and my friends have all become more authentic. I was forced to be me when I had no other choice and I count this as a blessing.

Being home for 3 months gave me much needed respite from my busy life as a property manager of a very large apartment community. 3 months of finally being allowed, applauded, and expected to take care of myself. To listen to my body, to pay attention to my needs. Why is it in this society that people think that being self centered is bad, wrong. Being centered in self does not sound so horrible to me. That is a good place to start from, a good place to live from, the center of your self.

In this time I have studied other languages, listened to great music, written songs for native american flute, recorded songs, tried new recipes, read books I have always wanted to read. These are just examples of the things I allowed myself in this time of healing.

I write this to say that I count this whole experience as a blessing. Yes, it has been the hardest time of my life. I do not discount that. I only mean to say that if you take the time to stop, breathe, listen, and perhaps change your perspective, you can find beauty and truth in any situation.

So, what blessings have you found because of your pain challenges?

One Love,



  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi there Steph,
    That was a really cool post, a gift to all of us here that need to stop once in a while and take a look at ourselves.
    What I have learned through the past changes in my life is that there are very
    few things that are important that I need to get stressed out about. Material things are just not that important anymore. What is important is our health,
    family, and friends. Life is short, make the most out of every minute you can.
    You are a gift to everyone that gets to know you Stephanie.
    Take care,
  • Gifts - many.

    Old Cheri - hyper, impatient, hard to please, hard on herself.

    New Cheri - accepting, patient, grateful, thankful.

    We've never had a happier, more intimate marriage. Never have I been this close to my teenage boys. And time, I have lots and lots of time - time I've always had, but wasted in the past. Never again.

    When I was in the darkest days of my pain and all my friends stayed away, I felt so alone. Trying not to burden hubby any further but struggling so much. I haven't forgotten those days.

    Chronic pain has given me a purpose. I reach out to those who suffer, to those who don't have family or friends who understand - every where I go. I had no idea that chronic pain was what it is. I just never knew. Now? Wow. I literally am burdened to share with others, to comfort others. You don't have to look far to find someone in need, in pain.

    And now with my SCS (spinal cord stimulator)? I now have the freedom to do just that. Since the life-altering reality of permanent nerve damage, I have become eerily empathetic, almost like a human radar. I will use this for good. I look for opportunities and find them in the most ordinary of places.

    Taking time to make sure someone gets a smile? Watching how they feel when you look them in the eyes, connect, smile and give a compliment? Showing that you care when the world just doesn't seem to? Connecting with others online? Just amazing experiences. I'm blessed.


  • You all had great comments and Steph thanks for bringing up this topic.

    Since I've had this time off due to chronic pain, I've become closer with my children. I can go to my chilrens' school functions and/or games and practices (when I am physically feeling up to it) and not have to feel guilty for using my vacation time. I've become even closer with my father and have been able to help my terminally ill grandmother and I've had time to spend with her. I also have done a lot of sole searching as I've had a lot of thinking time too and I really think that I have transformed into a much more mature, caring, strong willed woman.

    Best of all, I found a whole community of friends at SH right at the point when I was at my lowest because all my "real" friends deserted me after the pain became unbareable. Had it not been for my chronic pain, I wouldn't be on this site and able to make friends and get so much great advice and support and I hope that I have offered the same for others.

    I really am trying to turn my life around and do good for others and turn my bad feelings around and make something positive out of them. I really try hard to be a good person and help people in any way that I can.

    I am blessed each day that I get out of bed and I can still put my feet on the ground and stand up and walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth.
  • Not so important anymore. I agree with you on that one. There is no material thing that I could not let go. There are things that I cherish more, and find more value in than I did before. Such as pillows. :) I loooooooove me some good pillows these days.

    Thank you for sharing, for taking the opportunity to take another look.

    One Love,

  • What a powerful thing a sense of purpose is. It is easy to get depressed when all you do is lay down. I can't remember where I heard that sentence, but it struck a chord with me. After a while, it is time to get up! It is so much easier to do with a sense of purpose. I am so happy that you have taken this opportunity to help other people, people who may not realize the strength that is inherent within them.

    One Love,

  • Thank you for sharing of yourself. I know that I have seen you transform in a just a few short weeks. I have watched you become more sure of yourself. I know that you are continuing to move in a positive growth direction. I thank you for all of the support that you have offered me. You have been an important part of my healing process.

    One Love,

  • I am honored to be a part of your healing process. You've helped me so much through all of this too. I try so hard to remain positive even in the toughest times, although some days are a lot harder than others. This weekend has been a huge struggle for me with pain, life, and staying positive when I seems the negatives are knocking at my door and trying to take me down.
  • Great Thread!
    I would have to say that this injury, surgery, and recovery has brought me the gift of being vulnerable. By that I mean I am letting my gaurd down and not being the independent strong girl all the time. It has not been just a gift to me to be able to finally let people see a weaker side of me, but I never realized how much those in my life wanted to feel needed by me. I never thought that vulnerability could be a gift but it has been as it has shown me that I can fall and people will be there to catch me, and that I dont have to do everything alone.
    This site has been a gift and all the friends I have made here, alot like you Ming my friends deserted me as I was too "fragile" to be around.
    Maybe thats a strange gift, but being able to let my gaurd down and letting people support and help me has been my gift to me, and to others :)
  • Erica,
    What a great comment:

    "brought me the gift of being vulnerable. By that I mean I am letting my gaurd down and not being the independent strong girl all the time."

    I too am very independent and this is one of my biggest struggles being layed up like I am. I've always kept up this tough, independent woman act to prevent myself from getting hurt by others. I never would've thought that letting my guard down and being vulnerable as being a gift until you mentioned it.

    Today's a tough day though cuz I am having a really bad day pain wise and mentally wise and I reached out to one of my so called best friends and she wasn't there to support me. She was busy with her own life. I can't be mad for that though. I just really needed her at that moment but was too afraid to just come out and say it.
  • I think you and I are alike in alot of ways, maybe why we connected so quickly on here :)
    I really never thought it could be a gift either till I really had to dig around for what kind of gift this challenge has brought me. I finally realized that I have allowed myself to reach out for help, sometimes its there and sometimes its not, but at least I am doing it finally.
    I know what you mean when you call up a friend and they are busy with life and you cant be mad at that but somehow its still frustrating. I think some of them who dont know my situation as well just dont anticiapte that I at that moment I need them to just hear me out, because I so rarely do that. But thats why we are all here, and me making the post that I needed support was a huuuge step for me and just going back and reading the comments helps me get through this. Its a strange gift maybe but one I think benifits two people. Its nice to feel needed and now I can give people that as well as recieve it. It has made some of my relationships stronger...I knew it was nice to be needed, and to be the shoulder all the time and now it was time I let someone else be that as well.
    Funny what we learn through this
    Erica the nervenator
  • Asking for help and being vulnerable was a slow transition for me. I still have this weird feeling when I ask for help at the grocery store to have someone help me out with them but I know that I can't do it. Just admitting I can't do it is really hard even after all this time. Riding around with a handicap parking permit hanging from my mirror is uncomfortable at times and I feel like people are talking about me behind my back. I am so paranoid at times lol.

    Together we can lean on each other and help each other through this rough patch in our lives.

    Being young and dealing with this and the limitations that come along with it is overwhelming at times. I mourn for the fun, outgoing, whoohoo girl that I used to be at times. One of my favorite things to do has become a challenge for me. That's going out on the trails with my 4wheeler. I bought it brand new and my back got too bad to be able to ride before I had it for even a couple of months. I still take it out once in awhile and suffer the consequences afterward lol. It's really tough making those payments each month and not being able to use. My husband put the plow to use quite a bit this winter though. In fact we woke up with more snow and everything needs to be plowed again. He can't understand why I don't get out there and shovel the walk way...aauugh he makes me so mad sometimes.

    Take Care Erica aka Nervonator, together we can help each other through this tough time. My prayers are always with you and your husband.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,857
    Stephanie, I like the concept of your thread. It has and will provoke some thinking before posting.
    For mw, geez, I had to start looking over the past 33+ years to put things correctly.

    1- Having spinal problems back in the 70's and having surgery while my friends were playing sort of set me on a wreckless path. When you are young, nothing can stop you and I tried that. Dont Work!
    So, one of my first gifts was learning the extent of my limitations and learning to cope with my spinal situation.
    Now, that didnt happen overnight and it may have finally happened somewhere after my 4th surgery, but it was a learning process.

    2- Being at home. I've always enjoyed being at home and having about 5 years of surgeries, recoveries, flareups and such and then working from home the past 10 years, I really got to appreciate so much. I was able to spend so much more time with my son and daughter, got to become good friends with them which we still are today. I was also more appreciative of my wife's position. She had been working even before I started and working in the medical field since her early 20's, raising a family, going back to school to get her bachelors in Nursing, it wasnt easy.
    I got to see just how much she had to juggle to get things done.

    3- My dogs. Spending all that time at home with our dogs, at one time or another was special. I wasnt much of a dog trainer, maybe the dogs had me trained, but we had some good times together.

    4- Compassion. Dealing with various spinal problems over the years has taught me a lot about feelings for others, especially when they are sick or injured. No illness is really simple, just some are more difficult than others.
    Learning to understand what people can deal with and what they cant has been a useful tool

    And these are just some of the gifts that I am so grateful for.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I have met some of the GREATEST people I may ever know. Each one taught me something. Some taught me courage and strength. Others taught me humility and gratitude. Some made me laught and other had me crying. I would have never slowed down enough to have ever gotten to REALLY know these people that this not have happened. Most of them I found right here. I am blessed because of the new influences in my life. Lessons that will last a lifetime for me. Stories and people whom I will NEVER forget.
  • "I would have never slowed down enough to have ever gotten to REALLY know these people that this not have happened."

    Slowing down. It is amazing how you can speed up or slow down time. All you have to do is be aware in the moment. Since I have gone back to work part time I have been able to recognize how easy it is to go back to being mindless, or to just get caught up in the motions of working. The morning flies by, and I miss things. I am trying now to find a balance between the two. To be present in each moment, not reacting automatically but spontaneously.

    The slowing of time has been quite possibly the greatest gift that my pain challenges have provided me with. Granted, some of those moments were excrutiating. Others were blissful, and awe inspiring. :)

    I am happy also for the many that I have found comraderie with. For the compassion that I have so clearly and sincerely felt from my fellow spineys and anyone who has ever struggled and triumphed by continuing to accept, allow, and grow.

    One Love,

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,857
    your ending phrase on all of your posts says so much.
    Thank you
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • When you are young, it is easy to keep going when you should stop and breathe. I am sure that I have done a little more damage to my back by not listening to my body and pushing through anyway. Live and learn, :).

    Loving on your friends and family. Nothing better than that.

    One Love,

  • :)

    One Love, we are all share. I like it when people notice.

    One Love,

  • This has been a nice thread to read through, I like to focus on the positive things life always has to offer. I think the thing that struck me most is the self centered concept, I think being for yourself, loving yourself and being happy with who and what you are is probably the biggest factor in keeping your life put together. I think it helps you accept the bad and make it beautiful so that you can still find life in the absence of norms, and I think it helps you be a better giver. Even though it sounds like an oxymoron being selfish is sometimes the best thing you can do for others, you cant really love until you love yourself. ^_^

    I think this is what my issues have reaffirmed for me. It really makes me cherish every single thing I'm able to do and create. Every trip out of the house, every email in my inbox, every painting I can finish or even start!

    I also think in a weird way learning to be vulnerable like others have mentioned is one of the hardest things to accept, but in the end its made me stronger to learn that taking care of myself by receiving help is the best way I can thank those who help me. The people who want and are willing to help are the same people who you would hurt if you were to be in pain doing something yourself.

    Thanks for the lovely thread and sharing all the interesting insight!
  • Stephanie,

    It is always right that we should be positive, even in adversity and finding our real self the true measure of how we have progressed, that collective development from our newbie days have transposed who we have become. We should only accept what is sufficient to get by and that is not giving in, it is strength and should be seen as such. Embracing change requires strength of character, tenacity and vision of the future, through progressive knowledge and understanding over time.

    We have nurtured our remnants into a more visible perspective and they have become our gifts, we see and appreciate refreshed similar and new occurrences, it is us that has changed, a seismic shift in how we assimilate our imposed circumstance, that duality of how we see things is reflective of us, we have transformed, not those who we thought should change to accommodate our pain.

    It is impossible to change all those we meet and we are more receptive at seeing things we missed ourselves when proceeding at a faster pace, the world is only as fast as we make it, many would benefit from living life through our pain coloured view, the good bits, you find yourself and who you are, our weakness is our strength, to be open, considerate compassionate and never look as if you are giving up, convince yourself life is for living and do your best every day. Be proud of your achievements and the effort you needed to achieve them, be kind to yourself.

    Support others as you have been supported, read what has not been said or written, like a chameleon we look forwards and backwards simultaneously, learning how to survive, the historic us is our shadow and we outpace its image, we should outline it with chalk and write who we were and then walk on, towards hope and new beginnings of the gifts we are all sharing and long may it continue.

    Take care John.
  • Sometimes it is nice to stop and think about all the things we are blessed with. Thank you for prompting us to be thankful.

    Pre-injury I was a mother of 5 and a workaholic. Needless to say, this combination didn't go real well, even though I thought I was doing just fine managing house, kids, and work. I felt like my job demanded the 50-60-70 hours each week that I put into it, and that there was no way to cut back on the hours. I thought our family couldn't survive without my income, and this drove me to work even harder. Wow, was I wrong.

    My life as I knew it came to a sudden stop. When I came out of the neck surgery with partial paralysis, it quickly became my reality that I could no longer be the super-mom, super-employee, super-friend, super-everything that I had tried to be. All of my energy was used in trying to get back on my feet. For a "moment" I was terrified that our family would be devastated because of the loss of income. For a "moment" I worried that my kids would resent me. and for a "moment" I mourned the person I used to be.

    What I learned from this whole experience is that NO job is worth spending that much time away from my family. This quickly became a blessing to me in that when my children came home from school, I was home to listen to the happenings of their day. I was/am here to encourage them in all that they do. I am here to dry their tears as they go through the normal teenage emotional roller-coaster rides. I am here to teach them and help them.

    Pre-injury my sense of self-worth came from succeeding in my job, being the person that fellow employees turned to for help, and knowing that I was good at my job. what I forgot about was that I chose, in fact yearned, to have children. To me the thing I want most in life is a happy family and to raise responsible self-confident beautiful children and be here as they turn into adults. For a "moment" in my life I had forgotten that what I want most in my life is more important than what I want "now". Material things are just that, things. Money can buy things, but only being here to love and nurture my children can ensure a happy and healthy family.

    So even though this whole medical nightmare has been difficult and has taken away so many aspects of my life, it has reminded me to slow down and enjoy what I have. Maybe I was just so bullheaded and stubborn that this is the only way I would learn that. God has a way of directing the paths we take in life.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • After having my life put on hold and staying in this holding pattern a long time. I'm learning to be reflective of what I've done with my life and more good that I hope to do. The thing is, not far from this time I was at a point that I never wanted to get out of bed now I say I'm glad for another day. Just to be alive and enjoy each moment. Anyways thanks everyone here for giving support when I needed help and just got some answers from other threads also. Take care everyone. Cheryl
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have learned so many things.Patience was hard for me and though I'm still working on that one,I'm proud that I have the patience now to continue trying.

    I'm working on accepting change with ease-and that is fun when the change is something that I want,look forward to,or understand--but scary when it's lines are uneven and I can't see beyond the curves.

    When I talk to my son's,who are 22 & 25,I listen to them better and I see the individual people they are.Instead of looking for any flaws in them to mother,and teach,I let them ask me for their advice.I'm learning to let go and let them be totally themselves.This has been hard for me,but so worth it..they talk so much easier,and say so much more when they know I'm just listening.

    The one thing that I've really learned and understand completely is that the more I learn,the less I seem to know with certainty.

    ♥I enjoyed reading the posts here.Good idea.
  • Thank *You* for responding to it. For being open enough to see the gifts.

    One Love,

  • No competetion here. :) Thank you so much for sharing.

    One Love,

  • All you need is the willingness to consider. The willingness to consider being more patient, for example. :)

    One Love,

  • patience.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Simple. :)

    One Love,

  • I have read this thread several times. The first time I read it all I could find was anger. Not at it's author more at the idea that any part of these last 2.5 years could be considered a "gift". I tried to enter a response at least 3 times. The bitterness would over take anything I typed.

    I have thought and thought, how do I find the gift in this? Sure I could spout out something, anything to prove I have benefitted or learned something. Yet, I have been found lacking.

    My gift from all of this? Patience, I have been given the gift to know that we do not get an answer just because we want one.
  • There was a time when I felt the same as you. I used to say okay if I am supposed to learn something from all this, please tell me what it is so that I can be done with it. But no answers came until I was ready.

    One thing I want to add though is that once you can let go of the anger, you will feel better mentally. It is okay to be angry, to vent, to cry, to want to give up. There is no set timetable on these emotions; for some it is a few m onths, for others it is years. After you go through all of those stages, including mourning what you've lost, you will likely go through acceptance, which will then lead to letting go of the anger. It took me a long time to get to this place in my heart, and I know that for some it may never come. But please know that you have a whole group of people here pulling for you, and our friendship is a gift that we give to you.

    I understand!
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I applaud your honesty. There are days when I feel the same way. Thank you for sharing with authenticity.

    One Love,

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