The Wars We Fight
I’m normally in bed by now, but I found myself touched by a song today that I had somehow never heard on my playlist. I’m moved by things that I love, and, honestly, there’s not much that can move me more than music. It’s a song I’ve probably heard a hundred times, but I never actually heard the song until today – Marchin On.
We fight wars everyday. We battle with ourselves. We take on challenges we would prefer to avoid. Sometimes we even take on our medical professionals or their billing departments. Other times your hand is folded before you even start. Some battles are trivial while others are earth-shattering. Every now and then you feel as if they will break you. I am here to remind you that you can pick yourself up and move forward – one step at a time.
I remember when I awoke from my first surgery, I hoped with everything I had that it would not leave a scar behind. And then the complications appeared, and I began to realize I would forever have a large scar on my right foot. It seems trivial after everything I have overcome the last seven months. Then I realized it wasn’t the scar that felt so devastating; it was everything that led me to that scar. And now…well, now I can look at it and remind myself how much strength it took to survive this ordeal (and by “now,” I mean today). Suddenly, my scar feels more like strength than a blemish.
Even before weaning myself off of pain medicine, I would wake from sleep with significant pain. Just yesterday I refused to get out of bed to get dinner because the pain felt so unbearable. But the less I move my foot, the more stiff it becomes and the stronger the pain. Pain is among the biggest motivators, and I still struggle with how to manage it without narcotics. Mental strength is all I can offer for a solution, focusing on each small step and finding a way to reward yourself for that small accomplishment.
I still feel the sting of withdrawals. I spend half of my time in the bathroom and the other half holding my head in my hand somehow thinking that small gesture will relieve my headache. And I’m completely exhausted, mentally and physically. Sleep feels like just a moment away, yet it never arrives. I engage in endless, unproductive inner arguments, mostly concerning why pain medication must be physically addicting. And then I manage to pull myself out and remember I must move on.
“Courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.” – Rollo May
We cannot stop moving, literally and figuratively. But we each must find our own path that moves us forward, rather than backwards – even when everything in our bodies beg us to sit just a little longer. We might find ourselves reminiscing of simpler times, when we had never heard of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. But we cannot dwell.
Some days I’m not sure how I do it – how I continue to fight a, sometimes, bloody battle. On these days I find myself huddled in a dark tunnel. And then a little voice, so small it can barely be heard, asks me to open an eye. That’s when I remember how far I have come and all of those who helped me along the way (and their own struggles).
There are a lot of things that I’m not. I once naively thought strength fell into this category…until I opened my eyes to all of those small steps that culminated in major milestones. My medical practitioners did not solely account for reaching these milestones; they instructed me of the steps I had to take and I executed them, even in my darkest moments.
How do we keep moving on? Through the strength each of us have developed in our life experiences and through our loved ones.
“The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.” – Robert Kiyosaki