As chronic pain patients, we have far too many reasons to cry. The loss of our former lives, friends, family. The sports we used to love. The normalcy we once enjoyed compared to the ruthless prison that our bodies have become. If we choose to play victim, we can live in this dismal state and mope.
They say that laughter is the best medicine. I think that we should take a moment and focus on practicing this brand of medicine. Because even at our worst, I firmly believe that humor can be found in just about everything.
Except bowel obstructions. I find no humor in bowel obstructions.
Early comedy was less words and more action. The overly exaggerated stage falls. The old cops chasing robbers black and white movies. Later, it was the physical comedy from the first Saturday Night Live Cast.
Nobody took a stage fall like Chevy Chase.
The thing is, that overly exaggerated stage fall? I can do something exactly like it, completely unplanned, by tripping over air…or the cat. Once I make sure nothing is broken or bleeding, I do my best to laugh at the situation even though I know that later, I’m probably going to be hurting a little worse. Or, if the pain is immediate, I will take a little recovery time and then laugh about it.
It is unhealthy to be negative all the time. Optimism, even when there is little room for it thanks to Kolodny and the CDC, is something that should be a priority. Most of us make an enormous effort to not play the victim. There are no “poor me” moments for this pain warrior. If I ‘go there’ then that means they win. It might take awhile, but they aren’t going to win this one in the long term.
I have a theory. I believe that the Universe hands us only what we can truly handle. Nothing less and nothing more.
Pretty sure the Universe thinks I’m pretty much a bad ass. Also sure that the Universe has a very dark sense of humor.
When you look at everything that we face daily, that we fight through, that we beat down, we’re a pretty resilient bunch. Even when we really aren’t feeling it.
We have developed thick skin from not only our illness/conditions but from the reactions of others. From that friend who had known you for years and suddenly had no use for you once your pain became what it is today.
You know the ones. They were probably the first person to say those famous words to you.
“But you don’t look sick.”
Which was most likely followed by “if you just got some exercise…” or something equally naïve.
They probably actually offered you a tylenol.
They also probably tried to do an intervention on you when they discovered that you were getting relief from a long-term opioid regimen. Never mind that you were finally acting like yourself again. You were functional. You might have even actually left the house.
You know, back in the good old days before the Faux Opioid Crisis. Before the medical community lost their compassion and started looking for reasons to stop helping people. Before we knew who Andrew Kolodny was.
Before we had to pee in a cup each month just to get those monthly pain prescriptions that we were then force-tapered from or that were just ruthlessly torn from our lives.
You remember them, right? They were that bottle of pills that you picked up from the pharmacy once a month. They certainly didn’t get you high, but they most certainly allowed us to function quasi-normally.
For me, the opioid crisis has been a test. It has been a survival of the fittest. It is also when I decided that I could either live or die. I have chosen to live.
I did one better. I came back to life. I reinvented myself. I basically said to heck with what I can’t do any more. What can I do?
Just like the choice between laughing and crying. I choose to laugh.
The bottom line is this: there are millions of chronic pain patients around the world. We outnumber doctors. Most are so beaten down they don’t know how to pick themselves up either mentally or physically anymore. There aren’t enough voices out there. Voices that don’t just spout the same old rhetoric.
Making oneself heard is empowering. Can you imagine if we all became empowered? It would be a roar that nobody could silence.
It would also probably contain laughter.