The way you feel and think about things becomes pretty black and white. It's one or the other. It's yes-- you're going to follow through with your commitments, or it's no-- your pain level is far too high to stick to the original plan(s). It's yes-- you're going to class and work today, or it's no-- you'll be staying in bed resting and attempting to *maybe* save up just enough energy to take a hot shower at some point.
You are sure you are in pain. You are unsure how long said pain is going to last. You are sure there was a point in your life when you were not in pain. You are unsure how that painlessness felt. You are sure you are "okay." You are unsure of how much longer you will be "okay" for.
Though I do it on a daily basis and dealing with the pain has become that of a second nature to me, there are times when I feel like I can't anymore.
On Tuesday, I had spinal injections for the first time in about 10 weeks. My neck pain and migraines had been coming back with a vengeance the week and a half before. I was excited for relief, but I knew that (as is the case with any procedure)... relief is not instantaneous. In fact, the 48 hours following a procedure of this nature usually suck a good amount.
As I awoke Wednesday morning I quickly noticed I could hardly hold my head up. It was in the exact moment that I let my head fall back onto the pillow that the words "I just can't" echoed through my mind. As pain shot back and forth from my head to my neck and then back to my head again, I reached for my iPhone, turned the brightness all the way down, and started drafting an email to the professor of my morning class.
"I won't be in class this morning due to pain following a spinal procedure I had yesterday. I can't..."I wrote what I needed to. Attempted to keep it short and to the point. And though it killed me to type out those last two words... the very two words that make me feel beyond useless, helpless, and just plain angry... I accepted them.
Call it hopelessness. Call it settling. Call it depression, even. You can call it whatever you'd like to... but for me, it is simply reality and arriving at the awareness of feeling like I can't helps me to eventually arrive at the conclusion that I can... and that I already am.
When we feel as if we can't (in any circumstance), we need to remind ourselves of who we are. I'll start. Friends, I'm Kenzie. No diagnosis, no level of pain, no medication, and no lab test or scan result will change the fact that I am alive and human in this moment. Remind yourself of that fact daily. I would even go as far as challenging to remind yourself of that fact MOMENTARILY. We each have a life to life and a choice in how to live it. And we aren't living our own, individual lives... no one will.
I got out of bed for my next class on Wednesday. Though the pain was still running rampant between my head and neck, I managed to remind myself who I am and the strength that came from doing so got me to the shower, into some clothes, and on my way to class. The strength I found in remembering (plus a little help from pain meds) carried me through until I could finally lay down to rest again that evening.
And all that remembering led me to some more remembering. Remembering that when I feel like I can't anymore... I can stop, take a few deep breaths, and pray. When I feel like I can't anymore, I can reach out and utilize my incredible support system. When I feel like I can't anymore, I can choose positivity, joy, hope... even worship. When I feel like I can't anymore, I can allow myself to rest. When I feel like I can't anymore, I can reflect on all of the times that I did...
...and suddenly, when I feel like I can't anymore... I CAN.