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Finding Courage to Move Forward

Lala329LLala329 Posts: 283
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Chronic Pain
As most of you know, I've just re-entered the "normal" life starting school again for a post-graduate degree.

I crashed a little today- I was put through the ringer a bit trying to get some things worked out with campus parking, and it just really hit me how much all these small things add up to make everything seem harder with chronic pain. It wasn't a complaint or anything- just an acknowledgement of how chronic pain seems to touch every aspect of life.

In the past I've gotten by in school taking a controlled course load and taking pain meds when I wasn't in class or needing to study. My program now is so rigorous we made the decision to try an ER med since I won't have times when it isn't critical to be functional. The trade-off is clear- I either get to be in pain so bad it's distracting/disabling, or I get to be on a low-dose med around the clock that we just pray doesn't cause any cognitive issues. Again, it's new, scary, and takes courage to accept and move forward with it.

I feel like this is my time to carve out a new normal- I still have chronic pain, but I'm learning to manage it in the scheme of a larger life. I see where I want to be, I see how to get there, but the chronic pain continues to pose incredible challenges. It feels lonely being back among people my age who have absolutely no idea. At the same time, it means so much more to me that I am here because I have had to fight so hard to make this happen. Everyday I'm having to remind myself to be courageous, but in taking on so many new challenges that courage is proving difficult to find.

Where do you get your courage? How do you get through the challenges to learn to define a "new" normal? What inspires you to keep moving forward even when it seems impossible?


  • Oh LaLa you are my hero today. Just to make that decision must have taken so much courage. And now to face the challenges of everyday life is awesome.

    I don't have an answer to your question but I wish I did. I'm still at stage 1 where I'm mad that my life has taken this strange turn.

    All I can say is expect the bad days and they won't seem so bad when they come. Expect the setbacks and you will be prepared to deal with them. And don't leave anything for the last minute because that will be the moment you are in the worst pain.

    Make sure you keep us posted. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved.
  • Will your PM doctor let you have a handicapped parking permit for school? I know normally most of us do not need one, but I remember when I was in school, the walk from the parking lot to class was very long and uphill- it would make it unworkable for me now.

    Not that that's what you asked, but part of how I deal is "don't be afraid to ask for something just because you think you really shouldn't need it."

    But part of it is just getting out there and doing it, which is exactly what you're doing.
  • Proud of ya!!! Daily life in spiney land is hard enough to begin with, but trying to 'return' to much of your life with that pain is a whole other animal for sure!

    Please listen to your body, and even baby it once in a while! Very proud of you, and like Kris said, you are a hero! Good job!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,868
    I've always believed in the philosophy that doing nothing is the easiest action plan.

    But, doing something to improve a situation be it with our medical conditions or school or at work, is harder to do!

    Its easy to throw in the towel and see where everything lands.

    But to pull yourself up from the boot straps (ok, that was sort of a line from the ole John Wayne movies)
    is important.

    Courage? What helps me with courage, is looking outside of me. If I work hard, I should be able to keep my family moving ahead without major burdens.

    But if I just said, "Oh the heck with it, I have too much pain, to much xxxx" you might as well signed yourself a death certificate.

    It helps so much to be surrounded by the right people.
    The right people? Those that have the positive attitude and outlook, no matter how dark or gloomy their situation is.
    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
  • Lala,
    Change is never easy or as we imagined and attempting new knowledge is not conducive to our need to use permanent medication. Finding that balance of where to set the level of medication is trial and error and for the most part we are never close to the performance we would like or need to be. That adjustment takes time and some acceptance that we are continuing beyond what a reasonable person might envisage; it is good to have improving aspirations.

    I remember you asking before you started this study that those accumulative barriers that seem inconsequential in isolation seem to gather momentum, we all have some disparity between what we would like to do and the reality of our daily capability. When we challenge ourselves more, that distance between capacity and performance is increasing apparent as we set higher objectives.

    We have to keep the overall goal in mind and segment our strategy so as to achieve each progression, that as you say, develops unique restrictions. You have already made the courageous decision to continue studying even though you had some insight of how the future would bring equal if not more challenges. In surviving pain every day and many here do, we already have excess courage to target addition goals and attainable achievement with the correct guidance and positive comments. The nearer we get to our optimum performance small changes and tweaks are the most favourable tools in our strategy.

    The objective it to adapt your environment to suit your needs as much as possible, if your aim is to keep going, some current roles and responsibility will have to be micromanaged more effectively in harmony with pacing. All my energy, performance and responsibility to my family was called into question when my own learning continued and those supporting me gave equal sacrifice for my cause and I could not have achieved any of this without them, it was a team event.

    Try to identify those points and areas when you need the most help and develop a list if possible of things that ease the pain, like rest, relaxation or whatever works for you. Knowing that travelling made my condition progressively worse I arranged for my specific tuition to be in a similar place and time and my University even placed some sessions on the ground floor and within easier access.

    This is just the start of your continuing adaptation development and these skills will be mandatory for your potential career, those most intuitive look beyond and through the pain even though it is a perpetual inhibitor, we are all bigger and will never let it win.

    You owe this to yourself and we are all worthy of more recognition, the sad thing would be not to have tried to see what is possible, to have lived a little life, failure brings us nearer success. This specific marathon requires lifestyle changes, with close attention to flexibility. Even this current objective is only a stepping-stone to the next one, where the subsequent challenges await in anticipation for our arrival.

    We all have courage, it is an improving strategy that is needed, that takes time experience, support and encouragement.

    Take care and good luck.

  • It's hard for sure all your taking on but the point is you are and i commend you on your courage...
    I have always been in management position and had a very physical job..
    I find my courage in my kids and my grandaughter I find when they are around I hide my pain and I try to be as normal as possible...
    My d leaves for college in wow 11 days...I'm excited for her and trying so hard to show her I'm ok(i know she worrys)sooo exciting for her and sad for me(but not gonna show her).

    So I do get my courage (altho very hard)from my kids to push myself the best i can....

    good luck to you in school you can do this
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • Lala,

    You are a very courageous young lady. Living with chronic pain and the uncertainty of it is tough. To pursue your Master's Degree in spite of it is pretty darn brave in my book. I think you are doing great.

    We all have days (some more than others) where the thought of staying in bed is preferable to doing anything in the "real world". My courage comes from my family needing me. I remind myself that my girls are watching me every day. I need to be brave for their sake, show them that life can throw us curveballs but we still go on and make the best of things.

    Not everyday is sunshine and rainbows. I have my dark moments, when I get angry/sad of the things this broken spine has robbed from me, most of it has to do with things I can't physically do with my girls. I try to shake free of these moods quickly and think of what I CAN do. That gives me courage.

    You definitely have a good head on your shoulders. Good luck with your schooling, let us know how you are doing.
    We all have courage and need to remind ourselves of this.
  • The ER medication may just help you get through it all. I was lucky to get through College with everything against me not pain but at the time was finances and the fact that no one had ever gone to College in my family. I was discouraged to do so by my family and had to get away from their negativity to succeed. I held on to the words of a Career Counselor at the unemployment office who said the money will come from above because if you're passion is strong enough you will get through it.

    I know chronic pain is more difficult and maybe being able to tape your lectures may be helpful also. I read inspirational books like 'The Road Less Traveled' and went to the free Time Management class at College (student services) and got a planner to help manage my time including resting or mediation/prayer times. Each day had a positive affirmation that you think about in the planner. Wishing you positive vibes as you go forward. Charry
    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 think you've already showed an enormous amount of courage. It's a huge step for any normal bodied adult to go back to school, but to do so in chronic pain is admirable.

    I hope that the ER meds help you and allow you some time of diminished pain, enough for you to successfully complete what you've started.

    My courage comes from my children. I don't try to sugar coat the fact that I'm in pain, but I don't allow it to overshadow everything we do as a family. And let me tell you, that's a big deal, as I'm sure you know.

    A lot of courage comes from within too. I went through the depression and the angry phases and one day it just clicked for me. The pain can take so very much out of us, but I'll be damned if it's going to break my spirit. It's kind of a battle between ME and IT. IT won't win, I promise!

    Best of luck to you. You seem to be a very intelligent young woman and you'll find that courage somewhere!!
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