“So, I’m not a hypochondriac? It’s not all in my head?” I said to the neurologist…. my eyes locking on his like a GPS locking onto a satellite…
“No, it’s in your neck. What did you do to your neck? It’s terrible. But, I will fix it.” Is his confident reply.
The words have become part of the script for every appoint with my neurologist. (Some people have a masseuse- or a housekeeper- I have a neurologist….not as much fun.)
I keep asking, because I keep questioning:
“Am I just crazy? How can a pain in the neck be…. well… such a pain in the neck? Could it be psychosomatic? Could it be my unconscious brain creating pain to get drugs by getting around my conscious brain’s aversion to them?” As the daughter of a recovering addict- (23 years in December- Go Dad!) I am careful about drugs and the addictive cycle. I’d rather be in pain than on drugs. The question of genetics haunts me so I am (hyper?) vigilant of my potential weakness. And- Yes, of course I analyze myself like all terrible half educated counselors- duh.
Besides…. who ever heard of a cervical fusion not fusing? Seriously- there is a metal plate holding my head on straight- how can I still be in pain????? I also wonder…Is this like in junior high, when I faked injuries for attention?” Have I gotten so good at faking that I can fool myself?” (I never did get the hang of crutches but, I sure did get the hang of using them for sympathy.)
So many good reasons to doubt myself.
Here’s the thing: When I look in the mirror- my neck looks fine. I mean…it’s the texture of yesterday’s crepe paper streamers and is as chubby as a toddlers thighs……….But- it looks basically: fine. I can’t see anything wrong. It also doesn’t exactly make sense- this whole- my neck is crap for no apparent reason- thing. We can’t go back and find an accident that caused the precipitating factors. I’ve never broken my neck or had an injury that landed me in a halo brace or anything……. it just: is.
There are CT scans and MRI’s and x-rays to prove it- but, I still suspect. Probably because I’m a jerk.
The truth is- I’ve always suspected people with chronic pain. I’ve suspected they are closeted drug addicts. I’ve suspected they are drama-llama’s who seek attention in morbid ways……and yes- I’ve suspected hypochondria. I mean… really, can you have THAT many issues at once? It just doesn’t seem likely.
What a jerk.
Ironic, isn’t it? That I sit here confessing this, when I should be heading to the hospital for pre-op blood work for my third surgery in 3 years….. the second on my spine in 8 months. Me- the one who suspects everyone of hypochondria and secret drug addiction… including myself. While helping my husband battle prostate cancer. And Trying to figure out a thyroid that’s confused about it’s role in my body and while prepping for yet another surgery on a neck that won’t stop hurting….
If I were writing this life as a piece of fiction- I’d say: edit. It’s not believable. Too much drama- the pacing is off- one crisis at a time would make it more real….
Except it is real.
I know because I keep asking…..“Am I a hypochondriac? Are you sure?” And I keep getting shown lab reports, and X-rays and other upsetting data.
To quote the now deceased Richard Dawson: “Survey says: Yes.” It is. And it sucks. (That part’s not Richard Dawson- But, I think he’d agree, dead or not.)
When shown the reports and images- I wonder- “Yeah… but can it really cause THIS much pain? THIS much emotion? THIS much distress? Are you sure I’m not just dramatizing it? I am a wimp- I couldn’t even handle labor- I begged my husband to buy me a c-section….and the cancer thing.. maybe we’re making too big a deal out of this….”
The bottom line? I’m pretty sure that thinking I’m crazy, is making me: crazy.
And I have enough crazy in my life right now to add more- so: I quit.
I quit feeling guilty for having a pain in the neck. I quit questioning my sanity over issues of physicality. I quit judging myself harshly and ignoring my body because I think it lies. I quit confusing chronic pain for hypochondria. I quit being so afraid of drug dependance that I ignore a need for medical intervention.I quit trying to minimize the impact of a life threatening disease on my husband…..
and I quit judging others the same way.
Funny how walking a few miles in the shoes of chronic pain and a bit of unbelievable drama does that, isn’t it?
Dear Lord- Life IS drama- a drama that you desire to carry us through even though you don’t share the whole script with us in advance. I ask that you’d help me to accept my role- and to stop questioning myself to the point of crazy making. Lord- I also ask for those who read- that they would not automatically judge those with chronic pain and dramatic lives (cancer is often IN drama because it is well: dramatic- duh) as hypochondriacs and drama-llamas… all pain doesn’t show-sometimes there are seasons of intense story- let us live them together in ways that show your love………in Jesus name- amen- PS: lord- that one good vein I have? please help it not collapse during my pre-op blood work- seriously? I don’t need any more drama right normal or imagined……. Love you Lord- amen;)