Finding Inspiration in Warriors:
The day that my CRPS did not win
Sometimes when harsh realities of the world and the pain within my body come crashing down on me; I can’t see any hope in the future. I feel that I am lost, stumbling in the dark trying to find a light. A match. A tiny spark so I can navigate the world.
Today was one of those days.
I was caught off guard and unprepared for the backlash of pain that engulfed me as I drove through a busy town of stop and go morning traffic. I am continuously scanning and assessing my body for pain so I can stop the vicious cycle before it starts. I am extremely cautious of the world around me and any triggers that may send my body screaming for mercy.
However today was different. In 15 short minutes I went from motivating myself for a Tuesday Morning with my Pandora Jams to willing myself not to throw up on my desk at work. I turned down the lights and lay on my office floor. Focusing on my breath trying to work with the pain meds to bring my pain from unbearable to “I have to be a professional and work today”.
This was the worst morning at work thus far. I had played it too risky as I felt good and didn’t take my morning pain medication. Now I was almost in tears as my brain scrambled over words that I would have to tell my supportive supervisor that I would not be able to work anymore. The pain was so bad that I thought this was the last straw. I felt that I was being forced to throw in the towel, finally losing the battle with CRPS and forfeiting my career as a social worker.
In that moment I did what I almost never do; I felt sorry for myself. In that moment, my pain was too big, too loud for me to see anything else in the world but me. Me and my big fat diagnosis of “The Most Painful Disease in The World”.
And then my pity party time was up as the administrative assistant let me know my 9 am appointment had arrived. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through this appointment. I didn’t know how I was going to speak. How I was going to put on my social worker hat and help a student with accommodations for their disability? But I did what I always do, I kept moving forward, feeling my way through the dark.
I wish I could say that these days, when I feel like giving up are few and far between, but they are not.
The disease has now progressed to a level that cannot be silenced. As I have zigzagged through eastern and western medical philosophies and procedures I have lost a little hope with each failed attempt at getting me back. Honestly, there are days when I can’t find a reason to keep going on. And then something shifts, my eyes are opened to the world around me. I am blessed with a new perspective about the meaning of life for that day.
Today as that student walked into my office and sat down, I went through the usual rigmarole of setting up accommodations and the ADA 504 law. As we got down to the business I looked up into the students eyes as I was blinded by truth, grief and resiliency of his story. His pain. Within seconds, I learned that my pain was NOT the most painful thing in the world. It was NOT the most suffering in the world. It was not the hardest thing that anyone could tackle today. Suddenly my disease became very small.
In 45 minutes my world had shifted. As he walked out and thanked me, I closed my eyes with gratitude that I had met this individual today. That student had no idea the impact that their story and their strength had on me. That student didn’t know that they taught me something very powerful, when it was me that they had come to seeking help.
Being a social worker I am constantly reminded about the good and perseverance of people. I am reminded of how small my own disease is in the grand scheme of things, even on the days when it feels like it is larger and stronger than any other aliment in the world.
I am inspired by the people around me. People who have a story of courage, triumph, pain and resiliency walk across my path every day. It’s often that I find that the people that keep me going is my own clients, my patients, and my students who will come in on my worst days and teach me lessons about life. And yet I am their counselor. I am their advisor. I am their social worker but I am learning from them. I am learning about strength. I am learning about motivation. I am learning about love.
Sure, my pain will continue to rock my world (and not in a good way). I will have bad days. I will have days when I cannot be social worker Kelly or any version of Kelly that I know but I am learning that this is temporary. Those days will not last forever. That pain will rise and eventually come down. And I will laugh again. I will enjoy more moments in life. And I will have my own story to tell that hopefully inspires others, in the same way that people inspire me.
This is dedicated to all the warriors in my life who are fighting battles every day that no one knows about. You keep fighting because you just never know who is watching. Whose life you may be changing and the days that you have blessed those around you.