Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I wish you’d known me BCP* (Before Chronic Pain) © wtf/rle

I find myself making this statement to friends that I’ve met after 2001. I feel the need to put qualifiers on ‘me’, who I am now, who I’ve become. Because I’m a very different person than I was in 2000—and not just in the growth that hopefully we all go through as we mature and the years roll by.

Whenever I tell this to someone, I follow up with, “I used to be a really fun and funny person.” I have a very distinctive laugh aparently. I've been identified in dark movie theatres and even once on the radio when I was in the audience of a program that was recorded and later aired by my laugh. More days than I care to count, I’m less fun and less funny. It really sucks (poorly). [Side note: A friend once gave me the dubious honor of naming the “Randy Suck ‘O’ meter”. It gages the degree of suckiness, as I always use a modifier in identifying such things, because sometimes sucking well can be a good thing. Vacuum cleaners you gutter minds!]

I went through the 4 week intensive outpatient program at the Chronic Pain Center of the Rehab Institute of Chicago. It was M-F, 8:00 – 5:00 for 4 consecutive weeks. Those four weeks rate as among the hardest in my life. I’ll talk more about that in some future FLASHBACK post. [Now there’s an oxymoron – Future Flashback] The program takes a behavioral mod approach to teaching pain patients [I loathe the word ‘sufferer’. It’s so damned victimizing and condescending.] coping mechanisms to deal with and learn how to live with chronic pain, as it’s now with you and a part of you that ain’t gonna go away. Let me reiterate: IT SUCKS POORLY!

During one of the group therapy sessions, we were talking about loss, and the things that chronic pain has and/or will cost each of us. I lamented that I used to go on canoeing/camping trips to the Boundary Water (BWCWA) with friends. I would no longer be able to do this because of the chronic pain, and it really pissed me off. The shrink, comes back with {paraphrased with allowance for memory and time passed), “OK, so you can’t canoe and camp anymore. But you can do day trips and stay in cabins.”
Now, before I proceed, let me state for the record, cognitively I understand where she was going with this, trying to get me to see different options and alternatives. It’s behavior mod, I get that. But at that moment in time, I wanted to scream, ‘Fuck you, You Bitch! My life is changing in many and mostly bad ways, over which I have little to no control. How dare you toss out some platitude, thinking it’s somehow going to placate me and suddenly make me feel all better!”

Chronic pain is a thief. Sometimes it’s a silent and stealth thief. Because it’s constant, and in my case, usually not excruciating, it slowly and steadily sucks away my energy (and sometimes it feels, my soul as well). BCP, I used to be able go and do without forethought. I could be tired and ‘running on empty’. But since CP, I have no empty to run on. Before I learned how to manage it, and to know what my particular warning signs are, I could be out with friends, and suddenly hit that wall, and I was spent. One time that is etched in my memory was one August, when I was out with my then boyfriend. We were at a street festival which is my favorite weekend of the year in Chicago. I planned my summers to make sure I was in town this weekend every year. We’d been walking along, had been out for probably 3 hours. All of a sudden, I hit the wall. He knew. He looked at me with an uneasy look on his face and said, “You’re not OK, are you?!” We had to stop. I had to sit and rest. I had to sit and rest to have enough energy to walk to the EL station to take the train home. The day/weekend was blown.

It’s also hard to make plans. I can’t know when I’m going to have a ‘bad pain day’. I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve cancelled plans because it was a bad pain day. Friends get frustrated because I’m canceling once again. It doesn’t frustrate me. It angers me. It really pisses me off. Anger is a very private thing for me. I don’t let others see me angry. I wait until I’m home and I can punch walls or woodwork or door jams (the latter two are hell on the knuckles, but save on plaster and drywall). The odd thing is that it’s the little things that push me over the edge. Crisis?! Hell, I can handle that. I’m used to them. Knock over my coffee cup, or drop something, and I snap like a dead twig in January.

I had to resign from one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. CP robbed me of that. I don’t like the person that chronic pain has created. I want back the person who didn’t have to think about whether spending the afternoon at a street fair would be too taxing. I want back the man who could meet friends for a vacation and not worry about crapping out on the trip. I wish you’d known me BCP. ©wtf/rle

1 comment:

lauren said...

Well all I can say is that I'm glad I know you now....before or after really does not matter to me.
I am so sorry this is something that you deal with on a daily basis, it's funny how you never really know what someone is going through, and when you hear it, it opens your (my) mind in knowing my shit is not always so bad. Sometimes I'm so selfish and wrapped up in my own stuff that I tend to forget that other people struggle to. Thank you for opening my mind today, and wishing you a thanksgiving and holiday season free of pain!!
Take care Mr. RANdom Thoughts!!