I hate New Year’s resolutions. I actively resist making them because I make grand plans for myself that never work out. Do I actually think that I am going to start cleaning my kitchen grout on a regular basis? Uh, no.
However, there is always this lovely gap after the holidays when all the work is done, the parties are over, my jeans are getting tight enough that stretch pants seem like the way to go and there is finally some time for my brain to relax and taking stock of life is inevitable.
I manage to always get fantastically sick in the middle of the holidays and this year was no different. I got viral bronchitis and did more than one concert with a 101 degree fever. Thanks to techniques I learned from makeup artists and super good stage lighting, I looked like this:
It is hard to tell, but I have two cough drops tucked in the left side of my mouth!
After all the concerts were over, the kids’ performances were finished, the trips were done the presents were given, and the fun was had, I started to look at the picture.
It is one of the best pictures I have of myself. And, you can’t tell that I feel awful!
Living with chronic pain (post chemotherapy neuropathy) is one of those things I don’t love to talk about. It’s there. It’s always there. Sometimes, it’s just there but other times it is T H E R E. The last month has been one of the toughest I have had in a long time.
I have been forced into bed and onto the couch. I have had to relax and do almost nothing. I have missed church and missed hanging out with friends. Since I have learned to look for the silver lining, it has also given me extra time to be quiet and think about things.
I don’t love talking about my pain. I honestly am bored with it and I enjoy hearing about the lives of other people. But, I realized that it might not be a good thing to be quiet about my pain. Over 100 million people suffer from chronic pain in the United States alone. That is a crap ton of people. There are enough of us that it would seem like we would all know each other and be friends. However, pain is isolating. When I am in pain, I don’t go out and I end up being by myself a lot.
Pain is scary and weird and strange to those who don’t suffer from it.
You may be wondering right about now what being annoyed by New Year’s resolutions has to do with pain. I’m still working all this out, but I am beginning a new project call The Pain Chronicles. It will be in the form of a picture a day on Twitter with a short description of what the picture has to do with pain and will be tagged as #painchronicles. These were my first two posts today:
“It has been a while since my legs had to be protected from the cold with an extra layer!”
“When life hands us pain, we make a couch fort!”
My goal with this new project is to take some of the mystery out of living with pain. I have some really great days! I have some really terrible days. This is my effort to live a little more transparently and to communicate that even though “Life IS pain, Highness” (ten points if you get that reference), my life is also funny and sarcastic and diverse and just really good.
You can follow me on Twitter at @reallymarysmith . The name is because my name is funny and I find myself saying “Really! Mary Smith” a lot when I am introducing myself to someone new.
I probably will post some of the pictures and captions here every once in a while.
As always, if what I am going through and how I am handling it can offer some light and humor and encouragement to someone else, I feel like I’m living successfully.
And, that is about as New Year’s resolution-y as I get!
EDIT: As it turns out, lots of people I love are not, in fact, on Twitter. So, if you want to follow along, you can like the Facebook page I started called The Pain Chronicles. It will mirror my Twitter account as far as pictures, but I may go into a little more detail.