This was the sermon subject this past Sunday morning. The minister talked about fear 'consuming' us, of not going forward because of it.
My thoughts, of course, immediately went to thoughts of the life with chronic pain. How irrelevant and antithetical to the pained life.
Many of us are consumed with fear. We live each and everyday, often each and every minute, filled with dread - or at least mindful of fear. If I do thus and so how much pain will I have? Will I be able to go to the store, will I have enough meds, do I want to take extra medication to do thus and so, and so on.
I no longer have the spontaneous/triggered trigeminal neuralgia pains. I do have the unpleasantness of 'phantom pain'. Even though it is nowhere near the horrendousness of a tn pain I still flinch when someone or something comes near my face.
Before the service I was getting my music out of the cubby in the musicroom.
I am short. Ben, a tall choir member, reached over my head to get his music from a higher level cubbyhole. He had no reason to wonder if he might touch against me, to wonder if touching against me would be a problem. Immediately I tightened up, my breath stopped, Oh no he's going to touch me. He is going to set off the pain. He did not. I was fine. Was there a reason for me to fear? You bet ya'. That little/light touch would set off discomfort. The discomfort would grow as I used my eyes to get through the quick rehearsal and then service. The more I used my eyes, the more the eyelid on the pained side would swell, the sooner the discomfort would be outright pain. The more the pain, the more medication I would have to take,. The more pills I took the drier my mouth, the cloudier my mind, the lower my alertness, the harder it is to stay awake.
Living in fear creates its own stressors on top of the pain. Is the fear we experience really fear?
For those of us with chronic pain is fear synonymous with acceptance?
That sounds counterintuitive - but think about it. If I accept that if someone touches a part of me it will set off pain then I am accepting the reality of my life. That includes accepting fear as a symptom or sign of our pain condition(s). (With trigeminal neuralgia it is a sign. I used to balk at any pretense of touch to my face. My neuroopthalmologist used to use that as a teaching moment for his residents, See how afraid she is to be touched in that area? That is trigeminal neuralgia for you. )
We do need to live in fear but, if we can tame it, if we can use the knowledge of what causes our pain to reduce our exposure to the situations that foster it, the pain losses some of its control over us and we become more the captain of our fate.