Hard Lessons

To paraphrase a Bruce Springsteen song, life has been giving me some hard lessons lately, about pain, loss, disability and hope. Years of chronic pain, my mother's death, my hearing impairment and other serious medical problems have sorely tested me. When I finally found a doctor who took my pain seriously, he asked me why I had checked "suicidal thoughts" on my new patient questionnaire. I told him, "I have 30 years ahead of me if I live as long as my mother did. I refuse to live in pain for another 30 years."

In all that I've learned and written since then, the most surprising discovery has been my ability to remain optimistic about my life and my future. If you hear despair, anger, frustration and fear in what I post here, please don't turn away. All is not dark, and eventually a glimmer of hope will light the path ahead.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


When I was growing up, and especially during my difficult, whiny puberty and adolescence, I many times heard my mother say, “Don’t exaggerate” or “Don’t be histrionic.” Raised by a control-freak, detail-obsessed registered nurse, Mom was not (as she often declared) a Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy. She told our grade school nurse not to send me or my brother home from school unless it was an emergency. She didn’t want to hear about low fevers or little scratches; slight bumps, vague aches, or passing pains. She herself didn’t complain about that kind of thing, so why should we? 

I think that’s why I didn’t take my pain seriously for the first six or so months after it began. At first I thought I might have the flu. I thought the pain might be psychosomatic. It couldn't be something worth complaining or whining about. I thought if I was a good, brave girl, it would eventually go away. Then I thought that if I could just find the right doctor, the right diagnostic tests or magic incantation, the pain’s code would be cracked.

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