Am I Still Who I Was?

originally post of 7 June 2012

Chronic pain changes woman’s personality!

Is this possible?

Does living in chronic pain,  and all that it entails such as the medications, the treatments, the isolation, the different environments for accessing treatment that we Vitek Proplast implants face change who we are?

Do you know?

I was writing today addressing what my personality was like some 29 years ago. That before chronic pain, the disease of pain ( finally seen as a disease in itself) hit my body.

 I was different in so many ways.

Granted I was much younger then. Before Chronic pain came into my life in my early 30’s I was an active and involved person. I did not shy away from anything and believed that walking the talk also meant giving of myself to the many branches in my community. I saw where help was needed, these were insights that would later prove to be helpful to myself.

My family never doubted that I would be there to give to and fulfill my role in our little unit of four. My (now estranged) husband and I were fortunate enough that I had the gift of being able to stay home while our two daughter’s were young. We lived on 3.5 acres out in the country 45 miles from town and the nearest grocery store.

A dream.

Our daughter’s went to school at literally a little country school where the class sizes were never larger than 21 students. Graduating classes from high school ranged from 17 students one year to 21.

Each year for graduation I created the long-stemmed single rose buds the girls carried in the procession and the boys wore the same bud as boutonnieres for graduation.  I would create the silk flowers that the kids would be able to have as a keepsake. Several years we gave fresh flower bouquets to certain teachers to be acknowledged by the student body and parents.

I loved being involved with the schools and even went as far as volunteering for the PTA which led to a position as a liaison with the PTA and my states governor’s office.

 I also worked passionately to petition and push to have Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroad’s install cross arms on the crossing on the tracks near my daughters grade school. The tracks ran parallel to our playground and we  had also petitioned for the speeds of the trains to be reduced when approaching the school’s playground.

I was known as a rabble-rouser in my town. When I am passionate about something that I think  is necessary for a change and an action to be taken. Back then I felt I was a power to be reckoned with. A power to make things happen..

My friends & local community knew they could count on me. Springfield Oregon, and a group of dear friends knew that they could count on me for the Cannon Beach. Oregon Sand Castle Contest in 1985.  This was huge. It was Springfield’s Centennial and to celebrate and represent the city’s 100th birthday a very talented friend of ours (Sally) scaled down the statue of a white horse that greets you coming into the city to be recreated in a sand castle.

Springfield’s iconic White Horse stature that sits guarding Springfield and the banks of the Willamette River, between Eugene and  Springfield.  Instead having the horse standing up we created it in a circle laying at a tilt to the ground per Sally’s design. The plot sizes of 20′ x 20′ for adults are pre-measured and marked out before the entrants arrive. The rules are simple. No sand may be added or removed from the plot. Only materials natural to the beach may be used in the finished sculpture. Plots and judging are organized into divisions by age, individual or team, and building instruments, such as forms, used

What a blast!

Photographer: George Vetter

If you would like more information regarding Cannon Beach Oregon’s Sand Castle Contest check out link below:

The photo image above is obviously not our white horse. I am not willing to dig an album out from boxes and boxes of albums that go back 27 or so years. The image above is from the 1999 contest. I am using this to illustrate the absolute talent that goes into creating these images, the sculptures. That is what these pieces are; sculptures of sand. Our designer for the white horse entry is an extremely talented woman who also lives in sever pain and she designed our project so that white horse would look as if it was rising up out of the ground much like this image shows the head & face rising up in the above photo. She also created in the design  a garden of “daisies” that spelled out the words Welcome to Springfield – 100 Years Old. This bed of “flowers”  bordered the front base of the white horse, in a crescent shape. It was a brilliant design that myself and the rest of the group were really just the grunt people for. We took directions well,  and in the end won the Judges Choice Award!!!

This, while I was in the throes of my disease.  With a number of the pain scale starting out at 7, by days end it was off the chart.

This a year before I had the jaw implants and I was really sick. Not able to eat solid food because I could not chew. I could hardly open my mouth to even get a straw in. Pain that to a person newly experiencing chronic pain is enough to cause you to think of doing something permanent. Not good thinking, thinking of a desperate person.

Soon participating in activities such as the sand castle contest were a thing of my past. Soon the classes that I was taking to finish my degree were too much. I had waited until our girls were old enough to appreciate that I was going back to school before I went back.  Now I had to take a leave of absence. Next came employment. I had been working full-time, and then some, as a salaried manager for a locally, family owned pharmacy/drug store. My human resources manager agreed to drop my hours to part-time to see if that would help me and yet keep my numbers up. The company I worked for was trying so hard to save my job with them. I was never as touched by an employer as I was by this employer.

But the part-time was not enough of a reduction, I had to resign. It was shattering for me that because of my health issues I was not going to be able to support my family and myself. Not that it was necessary thankfully, my then husband had a great career that afforded me to not have to work and I could not for many years. Yet in the end we did miss that income very much. The place where our girls grew up in the country was something we could no longer manage without my income. We moved back into the city, into a smaller home.

So many aspects of who I always had identified myself with were gone. My life and my lifestyle as I had always known it were gone. Was it changing me?

As the years went on and events and consequences that happened around me  left me sometimes involved, sometimes not. There were time when I was so ill that I was bed bound. It was much of the time in bed or on the sofa. Friends would call to get together and because I could not count on how I would feel from one day (or moment even) to the next I was reluctant to commit. It became almost easier to make up some other excuse to just not go than it was to either explain why it was physically not an option or to have to bail out the day of the event. Pretty soon friends just do not phone and ask anymore.

It’s not always easy to be friends with some one who is ill and not in the game of life full-time. You don’t know what to expect from the friend who is ill. It’s something that is like the big elephant in the room that everyone chooses to ignore. Or tries to ignore, I am confident that many of my friends just did not know what to say, that they finally gave up asking and feeling uncomfortable. It would be real easy to feel hurt or even abandoned by these friends. But I don’t. Instead I recognize that they were just overwhelmed with the changes that took place regarding the dynamics of our friendships, I cannot blame them. It was overwhelming for me.  I  had to give them the benefit of doubt.

So many parts if my life, who I was, what I did, have changed. I have to wonder f they also changed me.

I think I would have to say that this is so – in many ways. I’m not sure how this experience or journey could not change me. How could it not? Pain 24 hours – seven days a week for going on 29 years has to bring about changes to someone?  Medications for pain, for muscle spasms, for nerve pain, a disease that affects the central nervous system, years if relationships with physicians from all fields, massive x-rays and imaging, isolation, just to list some aspects of what living with chronic pain that has been a struggle to manage is like.

These aspects alone I see could be life changing. Especially when chronic becomes decades. It has also at times been a struggle to keep the trials of living with Chronic pain becoming depressive too. I would be lying if I said I had not also struggled with a bit of depression over the years. One thing I have noticed that is a HUGE change is that once I moved from a climate that was always gray & rainy to a climate that has over 300 days of sunshine it made a  HUGE improvement in my emotional health. Despite some of the pain spikes I am dealing with  the level of  my emotional health has held up really well and I am confident the exposure to more bright sunlight (vitamin D) is what is helping to make the difference.

It’s true that although I do not identify myself through my illness or my disease I am admitting today, to myself & to you the reader that;  Yes, chronic Pain/Illness can change your personality,  I have been changed in ways that would take a book to describe how. But suffice it to say that my confidence in myself, my trust that I could be independent, my concern of being alone someday, all these things have affected who I am. The strong, confident, “independent I need to be” woman who was there has now been replaced by the other woman who is so not those any of things anymore.

How could this not change who I was?


postscript:  I have since writing this in 2012 moved to live alone. I have left a long marriage of 42 years with no employment, or even the reassurance that i could hold down a job.  But I know this. I am like so many of you managing just fine. Each day i can get one foot in front of another i know I am winning the game of living my life as fully as I can Despite what Vitek Proplast Implants Bi-laterally have done to me.

8 thoughts on “Am I Still Who I Was?

  1. Pingback: Am I Still Who I was? Reposted from FullCircledMe | Lady Barefoot Baroness

  2. I have absolutely changed! In my 30s I became a widow. Six months later, I had a baby. I worked 12 hours a day on a delivery truck, took care of my son and my new apartment. I was VERY involved, on my days off, in volunteer work and frequently could be seen at the crisis center.

    The past few years, I’ve mostly been bedridden because of the CFS and fibro. I snap a lot and a general pain in the butt. I’m too tired to even finish this train of thought, Sorry.

    Suffice it to say, I’m right there with you!

    • Dear I’m taking a nap {love your name by the by} I am so grateful that you wrote. I am very curiopus about this and wonder how many of feel this way. I know it may seem obvious to some but I had honestlty not thought of it changing who I am. Changing what I can do? Yes. Who I am? No. Until I thought more about it after being prompted by my friend.

      It’s interesting to me what those who are fortunate enough to never be plaugued by C?Pain have these perset ideas what a life lived daily in pain is like. I am willing to argue that they would have zero clue beyond the obvious. That th real threads leeping us together are threads so minute they are hardly able to be seen bi others. Do you suppose that if we were to talk about those threads more, instead of keeping them from those closest to us, that we would help or hurt our cause?

      Again thanks for taking the time, and the enrgy to write. I get it. Finishing thoughts is just ONE of those threads I speak of.

  3. Oh yeah chronic illness changes who we are. If we can stay upbeat (like you and I are) our lives are enhanced in many many ways. Us being independent and a rebel maybe not in the cards anymore, but the gentleness, love and compassion we have learned and spirit we have gained is amazing.

    I’m fortunate, I’m slowly getting better than I used to be. I’m beating Chronic Lymes…even if ever so slowly. So hopefully I will be that same rebel but this time with a cause to help other heal and find peace where they are right now.

    I’ll write you tonight or tomorrow….it’s been a rough couple of days for me. But I’m perking back up and feeling great again.

    • It is the beating of the illness that we know we can survive anything. Now that being said it is in the living through it that we can rebel. I see you fighting and rebelling every day against that warrior lymes. But little did know who it was at battle with, eh?

  4. My illnesses have changed me. However, the majority of the change has been positive. I started my journey like most I suppose but I found the ‘normal’ way of dealing with this–anger, bitterness, despair–did not suit me so I decided to rebel from that early on. I did not know if it could be possible to find a new life and THRIVE with and through all the changes but for the most part I am. And yet, I smirk as I note the 3:46 a.m. at the bottom right of my computer screen because “IT” is kicking my butt right now. But, I can also say I came by it honestly. I put 200 miles on my car Thursday running errands but was never more than about 12 miles from my front door!!! OY!!! I was out again Friday but not as long, mercifully. This morning the dog woke me up and my back, hips, knee, and foot are keeping me up. It happens. When it is earned, I honestly do not mind it near as much as pain for the sake of Pain’s amusement.

  5. Hello My Beautiful sister in our this rebellion of our life. Love the connecting we are doing here right now I like it when you are on a school break (??? you are right?)

    Had I known that thriving was a possibility my out look even on those darkest days would have been better suited to my nature. But alas I thought at first my life was over. Little did I know it would become the best its ever been And with me older, wiser, and finally only responsible for just me,.

    The most amazing thing that I have suddenly found myself thrust into is the very thing I had wrote over a year ago of fearing. How wonderfully odd is that? The thing is that which I feared no longer scares me. I will be fine, there are ways to do things with some sense of self -respect. This is where I am today I think what I am living is where you have been.

    Finding that I am going to be okay and will even thrive from the changes that should have been before this are exhilarating to me. I have to be cautious to make sure that I am staying balanced throughout the process.

    I’d not have reread this post had it not been for you. Thank you T my dear dear friend ~thank you for following this blog too~

    To sfeel first hand when I need the strength and esolve I thought iahd lost is the mopwering ch

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