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Chronic Pain: Painful Separation

Things are not always logical. You would think that if you were in a painful situation you would be grateful to be removed from it. But I know that when my chronic pain was first removed I felt like I had lost a best friend. How does that make sense?

It was nothing I could rationally understand, it was just how I felt. My daily conversations with my “pain” led me to believe that it really had an identity. A teacher friend once told me about an African culture who named their pain. I may not have given mine a name, but it sure existed as a life force.

There must have been a survival mechanism that kicked in that made me personalize it. Through the years it has been easier for me to see how BIG my pain was, and that it demanded a large presence in my body. So it would make sense that after surgery, since it did not have a specific form, it remained. I had just lost a means for being in touch with it. But I knew that I still operated as if it controlled my movements. When someone would suggest going for a long walk, my first response was NO. I had not been allowed to do that because of my pain, and I still thought that if I were to do it, somehow, somewhere, the pain would find me.

I recall a story one of my High School teachers once told about a grasshopper in a jar. The grasshopper had been caught and trapped in a glass jar. He spent the whole first day jumping and hitting his head on the closed lid. He came to understand that he was not able to get out of the jar, and stopped jumping. That describes my attitude after surgery. It had been so painful to do certain things for so long, that I gave up doing them. Then when you are told that you can do them again, you are untrusting. You do not believe that you can do them.

Having gone through an extended experience with chronic pain, my system emotionally, physically and mentally contained debris that needed to be addressed and eliminated to complete my healing.

I have come to understand that journaling about my experience in an attempt to understand the depth of it, has validated my feelings and allowed me to search out healthy options for clearing away the debris.

About Mary Byrne Eigel

Before writing children’s books, Mary spent many years teaching in classrooms and creating art in her studio. She was born with bi-lateral hip dysplasia, a painful condition that causes normal activities, like walking, to be challenging. As a child, when Mary had to trek long distances, she often wished she had a wheelchair. For her, a wheelchair offered pain-free opportunities, not limitations. Mary grew up in Chicago, which is the lakefront inspiration for the town of Sail. She lives in Missouri with her husband and two dogs, Beaux and Trey.

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