I met a lab technician a few weeks ago and developed a relationship with her almost immediately. We connected right away. She’s always offering positive words of wisdom and encouragement for me when it’s not her job to do so.
But today was different from most days. She saw the pain I was hiding behind my smile and asked what happened at my doctor’s appointment. I told her I was going through a very difficult flare and needed to get several trigger point injections in my back.
I did something different during my procedure: I started to laugh after every shot.
My doctor asked what was going on and I told him I would rather laugh off my pain than give in to it.
The lab technician told me I reminded her of her mother. Her mother had bone cancer — something I didn’t know — and her mom use to say she would rather die smiling than crying.
I walked away deeply moved by her mother’s words.
We as pain sufferers are at war with our own body and emotions. We must choose to take a stand, and take our life and happiness back. Granted, it may never be the same and the quality may never be the way it was, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder sees a beautiful life ahead of her, full of happiness, laughter and joy.
Just as the woman’s mother is remembered for her positivity, I want to be remembered for making others laugh and always having a smile on my face. I may have a few bad days where I’m stuck in bed and can’t force a smile, but those will be the days when visitors are limited.
I’m choosing to live my life just as God wanted me to; to enjoy my daughters, watch them grow up, become women, and maybe even mothers someday. To grow old with my husband, learn new things about each other, and maybe even new ways to drive him crazy.
Call me stubborn, but I will not allow my chronic pain to take every last piece of happiness that I hold dear to my heart. I don’t think any of us should.
Although we may feel or may be counting down the days until God calls us to his side and ends our misery, we still have a life here on earth, and family and friends who love us.
Why not let the memories they have of us be amazing, just like the lab technician has of her mother?
A person carrying so much pain, the weight of the world on their shoulders; family, kids, being misunderstood, maybe even judged, but still he or she smiles and laughs. And that laugh becoming contagious.
What would the world become if those of us who were suffering were accepted and loved easily? If getting medical attention and medication didn’t require a two week waiting list? If getting social security benefits didn’t require lawyers and courts because you’re being denied over and over again?
If those of us who truly need the medical benefits received them, our way of living would be so much better.
No matter what, smile through it all. It will confuse people, but half of them already think we’re crazy anyway! Find your happiness and don’t let your pain take it away.
Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.