Helena Gudell’s Wonderland: Invisible

This isn’t the first time I have taken a trip down the rabbit hole and veered away from the crime aspect and gone personal. I am sure it won’t be the last either. There have been a few reasons for my absence. Those that I upset may have enjoyed the break. Those who enjoy my writing have asked when I planned on making my return.invisible Is that time now? I don’t know but I figured I would give you a glance thru the looking-glass into my world to hopefully understand why I haven’t been around. 

For years I always had pain. Whether it be mysterious pain in my ankles, knees, wrists, shoulders, neck pain, back pain, migraines, it seems like as far back as I can remember something was always hurting. I would complain and no one could find a swollen or bruised joint. There was no injury to have caused it. There was nothing that could be attributed to the pain so everyone just thought I was being over dramatic. When I was a teenager and I was working at my first job at the grocery store, standing for even a couple of hours each night would bug the hell out of my back. I was always uncomfortable and trying to sit down so that I could relieve some of the back pain that I had but of course that was against the rules. When I went into the military things didn’t get any better. I was constantly on limited duty for injuries. Over the years I have only gotten worse. I have been suffering for years and have been out of work for almost 6 years now. Recently I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. To some its a pain disorder that doesn’t exist because I don’t look like I am in pain. Because I can sit with you and have dinner and smile doesn’t mean that my mind isn’t agonizing over how much longer is left in the meal before I can go home and take off the layer of restaurant appropriate clothes and get back into my sweat, and gauging the time left before its time to take yet another dose of medicine so the edge is taken off the pan and I don’t want to scream every time someone brushes up against me or bumps into me because they weren’t watching where they were going. Watching everyone eat their food as I pick at mine because the migraine creeping in is taking away from my appetite. Trying not to cringe as everyone around me is laughing but the sounds of their happiness sounds like screams with the ever pounding banging of my head.

invisible 2People don’t understand what it is like to spend every minute of every day in pain. It isn’t always excruciating mind numbing pain. Sometimes its just an annoyance. Sometimes its just there to remind you that you’re still alive. Bur it doesn’t go away. And it’s always tiring. The well wishers are always saying that those who have this need to eat better and sleep better and exercise more and have a positive attitude. Well let me tell you what… it doesn’t matter how cheerful my disposition. I will ALWAYS hurt. And I use all the available energy I have to try to function during the day that I don’t have anything left in me to try to get in a workout. Not to mention if I do then that means I won’t be able to do anything the following day. And the last time I checked, an occasional cookie or cupcake didn’t cause my body to decide to wage war on me. Especially since my parents regulated my diet when I was younger and was filled with fruits and veggies and I still had pain then. I got plenty of sleep growing up and now I can’t sleep because either the pain is too immense or the meds keep me up.

When Prince’s autopsy was released I heard so many people saying they lost respect for him because he overdosed on pain pills. Fact is I could understand his mindset. I could understand his pain. I may not entertain for tens of thousands of people in extravagant outfits and perform these fancy shows. But the truth is, anyone who suffers from chronic pain puts on a performance everyday for more intimate crowds. We smile thru the pain for our families. We laugh thru the tears for our friends. When we really want to try to catch up on sleep and someone calls and says “hey do you wanna go……” and we say yes when truth is we only slept for 3 hours that night and we really want to try and get some rest and take our meds.. we put on a show for you all. Because we don’t want to hurt you. We don’t want to disappoint. We don’t want to feel like we’re a burden. Well I don’t at least. And I don’t know what was going thru the mind of my musical idol the night he overdosed on meds and lost his life.invisible 3 But I know what has gone thru mine. The nights I almost took too many meds because I forgot whether or not I had taken my meds earlier that night or not. The nights I was wondering “how bad could it really be” if I took the next dose a few hours early just so the pain would ease up a little bit and I could sleep becuase I had been awake almost 24 hours and I just wanted it to stop long enough for me to get a little bit before the kids had to get up for school. The thoughts of wondering what happened if I ignored the warning labels and took this pill with that pill so that I manage a trip to the mall without wanting to cry. Have you ever wondered what would happened if you mixed simple over the counter Advil with your pain medicine? Some of us have to wonder about those things. So yes I could completely understand how someone who has had their hip replaced could very easily become frustrated with the pain and not mean to take more than what they were supposed to but accidentally do so. He wasn’t a person who wanted to disappoint his fans. He kept going the same way everyone else who suffers with chronic pain keeps going. We push ourselves to the limits of exhaustion and more pain with smiles on our faces and tears in our souls.

Chronic pain exists. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect the lives of millions of people a year. So just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean we don’t feel it. If you know someone who suffers from chronic pain, look up their diagnosis and see if you can learn about what they have. And before you say that one person who is walking from the handicapped spot at the store doesn’t look handicapped, keep in mind that just because they’re not in a wheelchair doesn’t mean they’re not handicapped. I have difficulty walking from the car to the front of the store all the time. For some of us, a simple task as loading the dishwasher can cause pain that last for days more than what we deal with on a regular basis. And to top it all off the only thing that can help each day is medicine. I am a walking list of side effects. Every time you hear the commercials that say it will help with a patient’s main issue but then they read a list of 25 side effects… yea that’s reality. For years I am a shell of what I used to be. Pain, fatigue, migraines, medicine, sleeplessness, and side effects, day in and day out on repeat. It’s like Groundhog day except I don’t get the chance to make things better like Bill Murray does.

invisible 4I hope that this sheds some light on my recent absence and those of you that are still following my writing will continue to stick around with me as I figure my way thru this difficult portion of my life. As I adjust to yet another new medicine with even more side effects than the other one, I hope that you will continue to interact with me on Twitter @WonderlandBCE (I follow back). You may not be able to see the cause of my pain but just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

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