Sitting on the floor in my room today with my makeup brush in my hand I paused for a moment, looked at myself in the mirror and found myself asking “Who are you?”. I took a minute or two to really look at myself and to I attempted to answer that question.
2 hours later I am not so sure I have an answer.
2 years ago I would have told you that I was Liz; a go go dancer in the Minneapolis club scene who was planning her wedding to a DJ in the Minneapolis club scene. I would have told you about my best friend who felt more like a sister. I would have talked about how Summer is my favorite season and that I loved to spend Sundays at my parents house having BBQ’s in the back yard. I would have told you that I loved a great workout and cooking while listening to my iPod was a favorite pass time of mine.
But that was 2 years ago, and as they say, people change.
The sticky part about this is that I didn’t ask for this change. Everything I was before this pain took over my life is gone and I am not really sure what it is I fill that space with. Looking back over the last few years it seems that most of my time is spent in a medical building. Doctor’s appointments, CT Scans, MRI’s and Ultrasounds. Consultations, surgeries and recovery. This past year my vacation time was used to spend 2 weeks in bed, right smack in the middle of my favorite time of year.
I keep telling myself that it won’t be like this forever, that once I get this pain under control my life will be right there, waiting for me to live it. But to be honest I don’t even know what my life looks like anymore. I imagine it is a lot like the one I have now, with less fatigue and discomfort and preferably there are more trips to the gym then to the freezer for an ice pack. But then, I can’t really imagine anything, because I have no clue what having this pain under control looks like either. I have no idea when it will be enough. At what point do I get to be done trying and actually just sit back and say “okay, this is what my life looks like.”? And who gets to make that decision? Is it me? Or is it the doctors? Much like my frustration with picking the medication plan that I am comfortable with I wonder what version of my life will be acceptable? And who is the one who will determine what “acceptable” is
At some point will the doctors look at me and say “I think we’ve got it, this is good.” or “This is the best we are going to be able to do to for now.” or will it be me saying “This is enough.” And how will I know if it is enough? Will I stop too soon and cheat myself out of even better?
As you can imagine all of that will make you just a little crazy, so I try not to think about it too much. For now, I know that what I am living is not enough, and I need to keep trying (which is exhausting in its own way). I have accepted that my pain free self is not coming back, but this hurting every day self isn’t the “good enough” I am looking for either. I have hope though, that this new med plan combined with the specialists I am seeing this month will bring me closer to the pain free self I was over 2 years ago. You would think that I would be excited about that, but to be honest it just brings me right back to my original question: Who am I now?
Will my new self still want to dance every show? I don’t really think I do. Will I stop dancing all together? I don’t really want to do that either. Will I go the gym 3 days a week like I used to? It’s hard to say if this will be possible for me even at my best. I imagine you can understand my confusion here. It seems as though I am in limbo for lack of a better phrase. Since I can’t definitively say what I will or won’t be able to do (which makes me cranky since I am a planner) I am forced to adapt to a more reactive or impulsive lifestyle if you will.
This has proven to be a good thing for me if you can believe that. Instead of planning my things around the other people in my life (Husband, kids, friends, family) I am learning to plan around me. I am learning to take advantage of all of my ‘good days’ and to take it easy on my bad days. I am learning to say “no” when I need to, and sometimes just because I want to. Knowing that my good day may not even last all day makes me much more likely to decline an invite to coffee 45 minutes from my house so I can get a Yoga session in instead. I find myself less likely to do things I don’t really enjoy so that I can do the things I do. These choices are, in a way, showing me who I am now. Though sometimes I can’t tell if it is really me making the decision or if it is my pain.
I imagine that there will always be times when I make decisions based on my level of pain, or to avoid a trigger that will cause pain later. But I am hoping to find a clearer line between the two and to adjust my life so that I am not just controlling pain, but enjoying life too.
It would feel appropriate now, to lay out what I already know about myself, but instead I think I am going to take my coffee into the kitchen and check on the roast I have in the crock pot. Then I think I will plug my iPod in and start the Peanut Butter Bars I wanted to make today 🙂