I had heard about a meditation group for people in chronic pain from my dear friend Margie. I had always been a fan of meditation, and always willing to try ANYTHING to help with pain control, so I decided to look into it.
It turned out that there was in fact a terrific program for people in chronic pain, and it was covered by the Ontario health plan, which was even better. I put my name on the list and eventually I was called to attend.
As I have written about previously in this blog, it is called The Mindfulness Solution to Chronic Pain. I don't know if solution is the right word, but it is a great way to help deal with pain. It was a thirteen week course that not only gave me another way to deal with pain, but introduced me to some great people.
There are a solid five of us who meet sporadically for tea and keep in touch regularly. That was the biggest gain from the thirteen week course. Until then I didn't really have anyone who was my age and dealing with pain as I had been, with one exception. Now I have a small group of people around my age with various conditions that prevent them from living daily lives as they would want. Before this group of people I identified more with the elderly than anyone else. It's not that I thought I was the only one, I knew I wasn't, but It took this group to have the daily support I needed.
I do have a sister with fibromyalgia and a close friend with chronic pain. I had been dealing with my condition for years before they came upon theirs. They were happily working and living their lives as most of my friends and family were. So for all intents and purposes I was alone.
I tried to assimilate, changed career path, and even took part time jobs for the sake of getting out, but for me it wasn't meant to be. The more I did outside the house, the less I could do at home. More importantly, the less I was myself at home. I chose to be here as my best self at home so that I could do what I could for my family.
It was a deliberate decision I made with my family doctor one day. He really wanted me to stop working, I loved my job. I also loved being a mom to my two daughters. After much discussion he asked which is more important. No question, not for any mom, my daughters. He explained how chronic neurological pain affects the nervous system and drains energy faster than any other pain. He said I could continue to work part time but would need to rest the remainder of the day. I had experienced the very thing he was saying. It didn't leave time for honest energy for the girls. I walked out of that office that day with a steadfast decision. I knew what I had to do, doing it however was much harder. I had loved my job.
I didn't look back, not for a long time, but I didn't look forward either. I don't have children home to care for any longer, and the part time job I loved is long gone. In fact all those years of being home while friends worked is coming to an end. They are retiring, talking about it or some are now off on long term disability, so I'm no longer the only one.
Thankfully I have been able to help with some of the adjusting to that change for them. It really is a different world from this prospective.
Back to my chronic pain friends. We have met for support and companionship over the last year. I have had two neurosurgeries, another has had an MS flare, and yet another has had two heart attacks. The other two are dealing with the constant issues of chronic pain. So when we meet you would think we would be an obviously disabled group of people who sit around and complain. That's not the case. If you were to walk into the coffee shop, you would see a group of well put together women, who are laughing and talking. I looked around the table yesterday and saw what others see, just an average group of woman having a chat. It proves you cannot prejudge anyone. There are so many of us walking around, living our lives with so
very much inside that others don't know we are dealing with. Kindness is more important than ever in this world of misunderstanding and chaos.
We are as many are, dealing with what life handed us in the best ways we know how. We learn from each other, we draw strength from each other and we gain the kind of acceptance from each other that is not often given by others.
We have called ourselves P.I.T.A, it's a little play on words. We were calling ourselves the pain group when one day I said we are more like the pain in the a** group! My clever friend coined us the PITAs. We are there for each other; although we don't see each other often when we do it is great, and even knowing we are connected has made this crazy ride of chronic pain more bearable.