By Ellen Lenox Smith.
The words that were expressed by so many a few weeks ago, during the numerous events to honor Senator John McCain’s passing, are still resonating in my heart and mind. As a chronic pain patient, I believe what sticks with me the most is the descriptions of his courage, determination, and fight to live life to the fullest despite all the significant obstacles thrown at him.
I can’t begin to imagine what it was like to be alone, tortured, isolated and yet still able to hold on to hope and dreams to get beyond this horror. And to hear that he somehow returned to civilian life and never seems to have suffered from PTSD despite all his torture, is beyond my capacity to imagine.
I will keep that reminder of his inner strength with me for the rest of my life as I struggle with the challenges of two incurable conditions. My struggles are small in comparison to what he faced but the issues are similar and they require the need to find tools to nurture courage and perseverance.
I can’t begin to imagine the pain that was inflicted on this man, day after day, month after month, year after year. Yet, he returned to the states not dwelling on the extreme pain and suffering he had experienced but instead choosing, yes choosing, to live life to the fullest and be grateful to be back and alive. He picked up the pieces and forged forward with his life back as a free person. To not be bitter, angry, and vindictive is truly awe inspiring after being treated so inhumanely. How many of us can forgive, forget or at least put aside, such horrors? What an example for us all to think about and try to emulate. Are we strong enough to let go of something like that?
As the nation and world mourns the loss of this man, may we hold on to the the lessons he has taught us all. Life is to be lived and not wallowed in. Life is to be filled with forgiveness, acceptance and surrounding yourself with love, hope and finding purpose and meaning, no matter what has been taken away from you. For those of us living with chronic pain, may we remember this man also lived with daily pain yet somehow was able to dig deep enough to find a way to live life still serving his fellow man. He was truly amazing and will remain an inspiration to many of us.
On your bad days, try to remember what this courageous man taught us about living life to the end. May we all find more inner strength and direction despite our losses and pain we have given to live with.
May life be kind to you,
Ellen lenox Smith
Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.
Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/