Sentenced To Live

Sometimes everything falling apart is the best thing that can happen to you.

I wish I could paint a picture with my words to adequately describe life with chronic pain and a “life sentence” diagnosis. We are not the words that doctors use to explain our conditions. We believe it wasn't supposed to be like this. We are told that we are beautiful and normal looking and friends who haven't seen us for many months think we are doing and looking great.

We can't remember what happened yesterday but we can recite our favorite book cover to cover. One week I was told twice that I was an encyclopedia and more than twenty times I literally blacked out and hit the floor.

There are no words to paint this picture because it makes absolutely no sense. Why can someone be coherent and competent one hour and in a hurricane of cognitive wasteland another? I didn't know why I felt every injury, why my nerves would seemingly send word to my brain that we were under attack at the slightest touch or regardless of a touch.

Image Credit: © Kelsey Rein

Image Credit: ©Kelsey Rein


Perhaps the strangest and most miserable part of Central Pain Syndrome for me were these flash episodes that I used to get before I started taking hCG. I would get that feeling of, "I need to straighten my spine so my back will crack" and then, SNAP. An unavoidable singe of piercing and breath taking pain would stab all up and down the lungs. I haven't been able to explain it in a better way; it was like someone standing behind me reaching into my spinal cord and squeezing it, crushing the spine with their fist.

All I could do was hyperventilate, lean over the bathtub, and wait to pass out. And then, nothing. Instant relief. Sweet stillness. I'm never grateful enough for the reality that though this pain was entirely disabling, it came just as fast as it went. I'm so glad it went. But even more glad that it would come and and then go. Because I wouldn't know life and light and hope without those paralyzing moments. 

But you know what?

Whether you are given a death sentence diagnosis or a life sentence diagnosis, or never even learn how to read a full sentence, the worst thing possible would be to sentence yourself to a life of embracing your woes and forgetting your dreams. So sure, they told me I’d have it for life. But I get to choose what that means to me. “I have it for the sake of learning how to live life to the fullest” is my take.

How long the life lesson takes to learn, when the ups and downs come, and how long each one lasts... well, that’s not always up to just me. But what is up to me is being thankful and intentional about my thinking and my attitude along the way.

You’re the only one who can choose what your life sentence will be.

And the most challenging and rewarding distance to navigate is the six inches between your own two ears.