This question is always hiding in the back of my mind, jockeying for position into my daily thoughts. Every once in a while, especially on a higher pain day (like today), the question finds an open space to squeeze through, and there it is, present in my everyday thoughts. But it’s more than simply “what if I feel this way…” but “what if it just keeps getting worse?” Because so far, my body’s track record isn’t great.
How did I see things when I was…
- That 14 year old barely teenager just trying to figure out how she fit in this new big high school. She had lost most of her friends from middle school and was an emotional wreck. And now she began to feel this low, dull ache in her back. She mentioned it here and there, but she still lived a relatively normal life. She never saw what was coming next. It was the new normal. She couldn’t imagine things getting any worse.
- That 17 year old girl had a boyfriend she loved, lots of great friends, and loved being in choir. But she had to make the first of many hard choices because of her pain and only sing, not dance in her senior year show choir concert. She was devastated. That 17 year old who couldn’t take the pain anymore went through a lot that year. Before and after her surgery, she was in hell. But that was her new normal. She couldn’t imagine things getting any worse.
- That 26 year old young teacher in the beginning of her career, already struggling through the school days and now starting to feel feel worse. Mid back pain soon joined the already agonizing low back pain. It was awful, but it soon became the new normal. It was so horrible that she couldn’t imagine things getting any worse.
- That 33 year old, now mom of 2 who fought every day for herself. For her kids. For her husband. And now she started feeling fibromyalgia symptoms, bringing on a new kind of hell. New pain that she had never experienced before. She didn’t know what hit her. How could life be like this? Feeling like being hit by a hammer all over your body every few weeks on top of everything else? How can she do this? But she did. She figured out ways to avoid flares, sometimes. She lived through flares. She survived. And that became the new normal. It was so horrendous, she couldn’t imagine things getting any worse.
- And now, that 36 year old who struggled so hard to keep working. To make it through day after day of work and then other commitments and dinner and bedtime, etc. But she just couldn’t. She couldn’t take it anymore. She was miserable. That mom who feels like she isn’t being a good enough mom to her kids. That wife who feels like she isn’t being a good enough wife to her husband. That person who feels like she is a burden to everyone. That woman. Her fears of things getting worse are yet again confirmed. Migraines, wrist pain, teeth pain, nausea, toe pain, etc. are all new ailments she gets to deal with. She thinks, I don’t know how it could get worse…but if history teaches me anything…it will. Somehow. For now, this has become the new normal. It’s tortuous, and she couldn’t imagine things getting any worse….
It’s really not what if it feels this way for the rest of my life? I think that’s a given at this point. It’s, what more can happen? And am I strong enough?