“You are so lucky. I wish I didn’t have to work!”
“To be able to stay home all day long! You really have it made.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if that was the truth? I would give anything to be able to work.
Many years ago I was a waitress. For a day.
My trigeminal neuralgia caused constant pain in the left side of my face. A simple touch would trigger spontaneous pain. The biggest problem was my left eye. It could not tolerate sustained usage or movement without horrific pain.
I hoped the breaks between customers and waiting tables would allow me to rest my eye and give the pain a chance to recede. Instead, I rushed from table to table without a break in either the work or the pain. I swallowed codeine upon codeine, trying to catch up with the pain. I prayed for relief that never came.
I gave notice to the manager as soon as he put up the “closed” sign. I walked home in horrific pain, not only in physical pain, but from the realization that deciding to work did not automatically mean that I could.
I tried to sell shoes. The store sold only to men. They usually arrived knowing exactly the size and style of shoe they wanted. All I had to do was go in the backroom and fetch the shoebox. I did not even have to do the cash register. It was wonderful. I was working. Because of the slow pace, my eye and the pain pretty much behaved itself.
Then they transferred me to another store and insisted I do the cash register. That took care of that. The pain forced me to quit.
When I was working, before the pain started, I had a number of jobs. My favorite one was as a ward clerk in an emergency room. It was a weekend job, for over 4 years while I was in college. It helped me financially, but even more important, it gave me a sense of belonging.
Not being able to work and people saying they are jealous, reminds me of the days when it was said stay-at-home moms had it easy. Their main “job” was watching TV and eating bon-bons.
Ultimately, people came to understand that it was work, and hard work at that, to stay home, raise children, and keep a house.
It is work being disabled. It is work fighting the pain. Those of us in pain struggle; through treatments, doctors’ appointments, surgeries, therapy, and disbelief from friends, families and colleagues when we can work. Sometimes even doctors and other medical professionals.
I know work can be frustrating, and often the job is not the one we want or harder or more boring or soul stealing then we ever imagined. But I would love to have one of those jobs.
At the end of the day, if and when those who feel envy for our life of “ease” think it through, they would not trade places with us. Not even for a million dollars.
But I would trade places with them in a millisecond.
Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.” Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a 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 represents 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.