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Eventually my family moved from one state to another…far far away. In the last six weeks of my senior year we moved again, and for a teenager this was a big loss. I graduated with a “C” average. Then I entered nursing school, which at that time did not work out. I was not emotionally prepared. My “failure” was more than my family could handle, so I wasn’t allowed to come home. I had nowhere to go and no money. For all practical purposes I was abandoned again, homeless, and destitute. My older sister was my savior. She paid for bus fare to her home and helped me find a job.
Soon after returning home, I met a man, we fell in love and I became pregnant. We decided to get married. Unfortunately, 18 hours before the wedding we were in a bad head-on collision. I suffered a severe concussion and whiplash but the baby was not injured. Unkind things were said by my family about me being pregnant out of wedlock. Back then in 1970 being pregnant before marriage was not accepted. My parents rarely saw their grandchild, and eventually we drifted apart. I never felt welcomed or accepted for who I was. For decades I couldn’t get rid of the tremendous feelings of sadness and fatigue associated with loss and abandonment and non-acceptance. There was no resolution.
At one point during my marriage I had back surgery and it took over three years to recover. I had a hard time because by then I had two children ages five and seven, and a husband who did not help with household chores. He wasn’t there for me when I needed him. There were garbage bags as high as the ceiling, dirty dishes overflowing in the sink with bugs crawling around in them, and grass as high as three feet. There was no help from family or show of concern. Once again, I felt abandoned. Eventually we divorced. The feelings of tremendous sadness and fatigue became more prominent, and now physical pain was added to the equation.
After the divorce I was so fearful of being a homeless divorcee that I used that fear to my advantage. I secured loans and grants not only to obtain my bachelors degree in nursing but for food, lodging, and transportation. In 1994 I completed the degree in three years with a B+ average. One year after graduation I had my student loans paid off. Not bad for someone that was labeled as not being very intelligent. I attribute my success to two things: the trauma of my past which gave me strength and determination, and to a previous employer who was literally a genius. She told me I was smart. That was a turning point for me because I had someone that believed in me. I knew then that I could do anything I put my mind to.
Since the age of five and throughout my life I have battled pain on many levels; physical, emotional, and spiritual. As with a majority of people, physical and emotional traumas have been part of my life. My parents divorced when I was five years old. For a while I lived with my father, and then I was in many different foster homes over a span of about four years. The last foster home was abusive and I was there for nearly two years. My grandparents took the responsibility of getting me out of that environment to live with my mother, who raised me the best she knew how. By then I was about 10 years old. I didn’t know it then, but I would go on to allow the fear of loss, abuse, and abandonment rule my life and bring about 'pain'.
Feelings of loss and abandonment crept in my very heart and soul of being whenever something or someone was taken away from me; a pet I wasn’t properly taking care of, my mother through marriage to my step-father, certain friends because my mother was a divorcee, or my home and school because we moved multiple times. Overwhelming sadness and fatigue over took my life. I couldn’t sleep or concentrate. When I was in 5th grade I couldn’t read a 3rd grade book, do math, use a ruler, or count change. By the time I reached high school I was told I was borderline “retarded”. It was devastating for me.
Most notable is that during the time I was in college, doing what I wanted to do without restriction, I became pain free for two years. Then I re-married and gradually the pain, fatigue, and lack of concentration began to resurface. Our marriage is OK at its best …we strive to make it better every day.
Over the years I have pursued actions that I hoped would lead to a pain free life, but repeatedly complete success has eluded me. I often wonder when, how, or will I be pain free in my lifetime? I have conquered many illnesses and surgeries, fears of abandonment, sexual abuse, divorce, being nearly homeless and financially destitute, being alone, fear of not being smart enough or not meeting the standards of family members. I have overcome fear of not having enough assertiveness, determination, or perseverance to be successful in life. So why not overcome pain like I did before?
Eventually in 2009 by the encouragement of my Naturopathic doctor, I went back to school to be a family nurse practitioner, an ARNP (advanced registered nurse practitioner). I was hoping that I would be wonderfully pain free as I was in college for my bachelors. But...it was the contrary. The pain was magnified from the stress I created when taking the types of exams required for a master's degree. I managed to graduate with an A- average. After four months of intense stressful testing, I took the National Boards for certification. Eight months after graduation I have my student loans paid in full. Again, not bad for someone that was labeled as not being very intelligent. Studying for my master's degree and obtaining my ARNP license was the most stressful time in my entire life, but I persevered through the stress and pain. Almost a year after graduation I have a private family nurse practitioner practice that is in its infancy but is flourishing. My life continues in spite of pain.
As an adult I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, polyarthralgia, coccydynia, allodynia, migraines, degenerative disc disease, bone spurs, muscle spasms, hypothyroidism, scoliosis, and kyphosis which are all pain generating. I believe most of these diagnoses (barring genetics and age) originate from my poor food choices (improper nutrition), emotional traumas of my childhood, and my inability to fully cope with the ongoing stressors of life. I have been to counseling, motivational classes, acupuncturists, massage therapists, physical therapists, and multiple medical doctors who have not been able to completely address my fatigue and pain because I have not fully accepted that “if it is to be it is up to me”. I have to use the tools given to me by medical practitioners...I have to do the homework. Dealing with my pain is a work in progress.
I have to be an active participant and take responsibility for my care by:
Making appropriate food choices
Taking brisk walks 3-5 times weekly
Doing daily stretching exercises
Soaking in the hot tub at least 2-3 times per week
Only using whole-food supplements
Going to bed the same time each night--by 10pm
Consistently getting at least 9-10 hours of sleep
Finding time to reconnect...even if I have to see a counselor
Taking medication as prescribed
Seeking evidenced-based knowledge about my health conditions
Remind myself I am safe and in a good place.
Because of my past, I know today that I have the strength to face and overcome the fears and obstacles I have control over. I understand I need people to help me do that. I have also embraced my pain. I understand pain is part of my life. I also know I have the strength and will to feel good. Therefore, I have the physical and emotional strength to give to lives of other people.