Monday, September 9, 2013


It's invisible illness awareness week.
Can you see me now?

I'm mostly invisible. On the days when the pain borders on excruciating those who know me real well can read the signs in my eyes. 

Not many can.
But it's a double edged sword.

What most people can't see is the pain that starts the minute I open my eyes in the morning. Yes, there are different levels of pain but I can say with certainty that my pain level in the last five years hasn't gone below 5. Ever. Actually, I think a pain level of five is, in my mind, almost pain free.

People that have chronic pain are not weak. We may have a low threshold for pain but, trust me, we have a REAL HIGH tolerance for pain. Chronic pain has the ability to really play with your head so it takes a real strength of will to stay on the straight and narrow while dealing with pain on a daily basis.

I've blurred what pain actually means to me.
We are people of duality.

We are strong yet weak. We are wimps and yet we are warriors. We are brave and yet we are cowards. We are rigid but yet we are flexible. We are reserved and private but yet we are open and vulnerable. There are times we stand tall and unafraid but then there are the times that we seek refuge from fear. We long to be visible but feel some comfort in invisibility.

No one sees how I walk to the coffee maker first thing in the morning. I feel weary from a nights sleep that is broken into small pieces that resemble a power nap. My mood tends to be quiet because I need time to figure out how to navigate through the pain. My personality tends to fight the way I feel. I still haven't accepted, even after all this time, the label of chronically ill. I really struggle how to work within the confines of my body.

I over-do it because I can tell others to pace themselves but I can't seem to follow my own advice. 

I can't control what my pain levels will be on any given day. If it was just the Fibromyalgia, maybe, just maybe, I'd be able to manage things a little bit better. What the accident in 2008 manage to accomplish was 5 disks in my back that are shot, nerve damage in my legs and I found out that surgery probably isn't an option. Throw in a little Hashimoto's with thyroid disease and I don't know if my problem is the pain from my back or legs, the fibromyalgia or if my thyroid medication isn't working again.

Geez, I sound like a mess.

Well, this brings me back to the invisible illness. I am guilty of perpetuating the term "invisible illness." I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to appear weak. I don't want to be pitied and I don't want to be considered a woman who has a ton of neuroses. So what do I do? I put myself together and this takes well over an hour. It takes time to shower and put on makeup but it takes the longest time to reach up and dry my hair. The simple task of blow drying my hair is enough to make me run to the medicine cabinet. 

So what do I do?

I hide pain so I won't be judged.

The doctors do that enough.


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