Make Pain Your Bitch: Chapter One Sneak Peek
Accept Your Diagnosis
You may think you have accepted your diagnosis, but have you really?
Or do just believe it to be true?
Accepting and believing the diagnosis of a chronic illness are not the same. You can believe it to be true and still not accept that it is happening to you. When I first received my diagnoses, I believed each one was true. The pain was real and the labels validated them. However, believing my conditions were real wasn’t the same as accepting them, because I couldn’t envision a future with them.
Everything I dreamt of doing was based upon my body being healed. Not just 20, 10, or 5 years into the future, but next month, next week, and even the next day. I planned every activity, chore, or outing without considering my limitations and physical pain. I believed I had multiple chronic illnesses, but I didn’t accept that they would change my life.
Many people, especially in the chronic illness community, view accepting their disease or physical limitations as a form of defeat. Your illness or disability will only become a form of being defeated if you allow it to. You can accept that something is real and that it is never going to go away and still want to improve it. If you choose to allow your conditions to control what you do with your life then yes you will be defeated. However, upon accepting that your conditions are going to be a part of your life you free yourself to move forward by working with and around your limitations.
Example: Planning a trip to the grocery store: If I plan my trip to the grocery store believing that I have a chronic illness, the outing will result with an excruciating amount of pain. If I plan it with the acceptance of my diseases I will return home with a lower level of pain than if I had only believed. And here is why: Believing doesn’t require any work. I believe the sky is blue. I can’t change it, it is what it is, and I don’t really think about it. For many years I believed I had each diagnosis. I believed my doctors when they said nothing could be done.
Emotionally this was too painful to think about, so I didn’t. Instead I continued to think the way I did before I became chronically ill. This however caused my body more pain because I expected my body to perform the way it used to.
I had to accept that my chronic illnesses were more than just a diagnosis. They were a part of my life, my body, and my mind. This meant that my life had changed. That my body had changed. And that my mind was going to have to change too. I am in no way suggesting that accepting your illness as a substitute for pain management. Anyone who tells you that treating your pain won’t help is full of crap and deserves to have their medical license revoked. It’s accepting that you need to address your pain and doing it that makes it possible to move forward.
I had to change my beliefs of how old someone needed to be to use a walker or wheelchair if they weren’t visibly physically disabled. I had to stop thinking that the only way to do things was to do it like I used to. I had to stop believing that reaching the same destination via a different route as a less than experience.
By accepting my diagnosis I freed myself to plan with my pain and limitations in mind. I allow myself to do things differently or to use a mobility aid if it means that I will end the day with a lower pain level than if I did it like I used to. This may be in the form of using a mobility aid or asking for assistance.
Accepting a diagnosis is what puts us in charge. Yes, our illnesses are the reasons for having to make changes to how we do things, but we are the ones who decide what we are willing to do in order to decrease or limit our pain. If my spine is throbbing, I can either choose to use a wheelchair or walk. If I choose to walk, I am guaranteed to send my pain level through the roof and sentence myself to days or weeks in bed. I may still increase my pain level if I choose to use a wheelchair or motorized shopping cart; however it will be less than if I hadn’t used them. When we decide to put our need of a lower pain level above our belief that we have to do things like we used to, we WIN.
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