Let’s discuss chronic pain. First of all, this is not a title I’m looking to embrace, however, it’s where I am living right now, and as you may have been following my journey, I thought an update was in order.
As of the recording of this podcast, it will have been six weeks since my emergency appendectomy, and I’ve been dealing with some pretty intense nerve pain in my left arm ever since. It’s been a challenging time, but I’ve learned a lot about how to live with chronic pain (again, not who I am, just where I am temporarily).
First of all, I’ve come to the realization that I may never know exactly what caused the pain in the first place. I went into surgery with no arm pain, and I came out with severe, debilitating pain. Through lots of theories and speculations, there’s still no concrete answers. Best guess is that my head wasn’t completely straight when I was under and a slight bend created pressure on my neck for an extended period of time, causing nerve impingement. While it’s frustrating to have no definitive answer, I’m learning to accept it and focus on what I can control.
One of those is my diet. I’ve been eating an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce any inflammation that might be exacerbating the pain. This is how I eat anyway, but I’ve doubled down and am even more determined to stay on track.
I’ve also been seeing a massage therapist who does deep tissue work, a chiropractor who spends a lot of time working on the musculature, and a physical therapist who has done dry needling and loaned me a tens unit. These things have all been helpful, and I’m grateful for the care I’ve received.
An attitude of gratitude
But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is to approach this with the right attitude. I know that five weeks may not seem like a long time to someone who’s been dealing with chronic pain for years, but it’s been a tough 5 weeks and I have more respect than ever for those who live in pain for months or years on end! I’m learning to take it one day at a time and do the best I can with what I have, while maintaining gratitude knowing full well it could be much worse! It could be my right arm instead of my left. It could be my leg instead of my arm. I’m able to move, work on mobility, maintain my strength, and serve my clients! I’m SO blessed!
I’m learning to accept that this may be my life for a while, and that’s okay. I’m doing everything I can to manage the pain, but I’m also focusing on the things I can do, like spending time with my loved ones and doing things that bring me joy.
Embrace the refinement
So if you’re dealing with chronic pain, whether it’s been for a week or for years, I want you to know that you’re not alone. It’s not an easy journey, but I fully believe that there is so much to learn from dealing with an unexpected trauma.
If you’re here right now, let me encourage you, as I’m reminding myself, to approach each day with gratitude and joy, continue to show up and serve to the best of our ability, and trust that we will be refined and our character built up to glorify God in and through this season.