I spend most of my days in pain…
I deal with high blood pressure. I have had it since I was 19, diagnosed when I began to work too hard, three jobs at the same time while studying Law in Lagos. It led to a mild stroke about six years ago. And every now and then a random reading makes a doctor alarmed, and drugs have to be moved around.
I suffer from migraines on the right side of my head. Sometimes they have been so hard to bear that I literally have to stop, stand still and wait it out. It went away last year, and it’s mostly gone now, but it’s still on its way out.
If I eat certain foods these days, an Irritable Bowel Syndrome is activated. In the past it used to alternate between constipation and diarrhea, and I would be in the loo for up to three hours, and many times a day. That’s gone now, having taken charge of my diet. But only recently.
I have for a few years now been diagnosed with Tourette’s – along with it a regular OCD occurrence that makes it incredibly difficult to concentrate, and makes reading, while processing your compulsion, very tough indeed. In addition to the involuntary twitching of my right arm, and my neck. It is very, very uncomfortable, and often comes from nowhere. My doctors and I have been on the matter for years now, without ameliorating symptoms. Even though, I have to tell you, this is a much better season than the four years when doctors basically told me I was crazy.
Oh, and have I told you about back pain? Considering that its almost three years of that, that’s six times the amount of time for which pain is labeled chronic. It makes it often difficult to sit for long periods, and sometimes lying on a bed comes with such pain, I have to just go down on the floor in order to sleep.
Of course, we know from psychiatry that “people with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop symptoms of depression or anxiety”.
So let’s go over the count again – IBS, High Blood Pressure, Chronic Back Pain, Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Migraines. And that’s minus the ones I have been healed from.
I have seen men and women sink into the abyss from any of these taken alone. I have seen people completely crushed by them.
But until it occurred to me to write this for this newsletter, I hadn’t given it much thought. Not wondered why God or his Universe have been unfair to me; what I have done to deserve such pain? And I certainly haven’t spent any time thinking that my life is miserable. It is completely not.
I love my life. I laugh everyday. I cant remember a time in the past few years that I have been sad for more than thirty minutes at any time. I accept each emotion that comes, I embrace it, and then I keep some, or I let them go if I don’t want them.
This is only the second time I have spoken in public about these illnesses. Because I have never let them define me. They are just, like Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, the thorn in my flesh, and a tool with which to build character and resilience.
I have been healed steadily over the years, one by one, by one. Especially since I fought stress to a standstill, and began to pay attention to my health properly, with self love, with prayer and with mindfulness.
When I am healed of everyone of them, they will be part of my story. Just as they are now. But they are never a part of my identity. And they can never steal my joy.
Physical pain, yes, because for now that one is out of my control.
Emotional pain? Ah, that one’s in my control. And fully so.
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