As controversial as this may be, as I’ve been living with Trigeminal Neuralgia since 2015, I often find myself thinking about how having chronic pain has made my life better, as well as making it much more difficult.
It’s really easy to be diagnosed with something life changing and immediately focus on the bad. TN has taken a lot away from me. I’m in pain all the time; I’m frustrated, I’m sore, I’m fed up. Sometimes my face hurts so much that I can’t sleep, eat, or speak. I can’t even think about eating icecream, that would trigger a world of pain. I have to drink room temperature water where possible. I can’t sit near an open window. I have to rely on medication just to get through a day. I feel so high on painkillers and strong medication that I can’t concentrate. My vision is always blurry.
Sometimes, you need to take a look at the whole picture, the bad and the good. If I weigh up what TN has taken from me, I can see that it has still given me a few things back in return. I wouldn’t change my life, not even the most painful moments.
I have written blog post after blog post about my struggles, medication side effects, feeling depressed and anxious.. It’s about time I wrote something more positive.
Here are my four things I’ve actually gained from several years with trigeminal neuralgia:
I am a much stronger person. I used to complain about a simple headache, but now I work a 40 hour week with one of the most painful conditions known to medical science. I get out of bed feeling like my cheek is being chiselled with a axe some mornings. I go out in the cold feeling like someone has taken a screwdriver to my temple. I am pretty unstoppable, thank you to being thrown in at the deepest end possible!
I have Cooper. I remember that warm Monday morning in August, when a beautiful vet I used to work with, came to me, told me about a tiny kitten with a head trauma who needed a home and pointed out that I also had a neurological condition – that me and the little cat were a perfect match! I never particularly liked cats (okay, okay, I was terrified!), so I’m not sure he would have ever been the pet of choice for me.. but he had a head trauma, he was blind, brain damaged.. and his beautiful tiny little mind wasn’t working the way it should. I took one look at him and thought “me too”. I think we needed each other and my chronic pain definitely was the one that brought him home.
I’ve learned how to speak up. I used to spend my life trying to people please, especially at work. TN has, quite frankly, given me the confidence to put myself first and say a big fat ‘no’. I used to drive myself into the ground, doing everything for everyone.. Now, finally, being in pain for a couple of years has given me the voice I should have had the whole time. No. No, I’m not doing extra than I can manage, no I’m not being taken the piss out of and, no, I won’t stay quiet. Life is too short.
I’m more appreciative of my life. I think this one speaks for itself. I appreciate everything now, which I definitely didn’t before. I appreciate being able to look after myself. I appreciate the house I mortgage with my own money that I earn from working every day. I appreciate my partner, my rock. I appreciate being able to see, being able to eat, the NHS, my amazing family.. I’m so happy.
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