A life with chronic pain is definitely never something I imagined for myself while growing up. I had episodic migraine but it was more like getting a cold, something that would come and then go and not be back for a good while. So the dreams and plans I imagined definitely did not include planning daily for migraine and fibromyalgia pains.
Who would I have been?
There really is no way to say for sure all the ways I would have been a different person had I not developed chronic pain conditions. Despite my health, I successfully completed more education than the average individual; I have two separate bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. I also work more than full time and manage the responsibilities of being married. In many ways, most would say that I successfully live my life.
Where I am not happy
I do not necessarily love where I am in my professional career because I had hoped by now I would be much further along in the hierarchy of business management than I currently am. While some aspects may be out of my control, some aspects could have been different. Due to managing a life with chronic pain, I do not take every opportunity to socialize and network that has been presented to me. Why one may ask? Simply because I do not have the energy to work a 12 hour day and then go to a happy hour event to socialize with possible connections for several more hours. By the end of my day, I simply want to go home and take a hot shower!
A life with guilt
I carry a sense of guilt with me that probably only makes sense to somebody with a chronic health issue. I have a sense of guilt when it comes to feeling like I hold my husband back from things, ranging from simply going out and doing something or being in a financial position to do something extravagant. This guilt again comes from the exhaustion that chronic pain puts on my body making me not feel up to say going out regularly or other things along those lines. The financial guilt is from the extra expenses of my doctor’s appointments and the costs of my prescriptions and treatments. Part of me knows how quickly these things add up and cannot help but occasionally consider what else could be done with those funds if it was not for my health issues.
I also have an element of guilt when it comes to my family. Due to my pain, there are times when I cannot attend a function or go do something they want me to do. It is not because I do not love them but simply that I do not have it in me that day (spoon theory anybody). While some of my family is more understanding than others, I feel like it gets to all of them at one point or another.
So where is the good?
Do I wish my life did not involve so much physical pain, well of course I do. Ultimately, I do not hate who I am today despite the pain. My experiences with doctors and general people around my chronic migraine drove me to reach out to other people with chronic migraine. In doing so, I have made some amazing friendships that I would have never had if it was not for chronic migraine. Over the years I have been able to impact the lives of a few people through being active in various support groups and working with a start-up non-profit. While it may not seem as much, it means a lot to me as an individual to know I have helped somebody else in any way. Additionally, as a person I have grown into a much more understanding individual. Granted I may have still become this person despite not having chronic migraine, but there is no way to know for sure. I have learned to value things differently than most people do and most definitely not to over-promise. So while my life may not have taken the picture perfect route I had dreamed of as a child, it does not make it any less of a life worth living.