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?