Hello Again, Pain



Oh. It’s you.

It’s been awhile, how are you?

You know what, never mind. I don’t care how you’ve been.

Even though we were together for seven months seven years ago, I’ve got to be honest with you: I can’t stand you, pain, and wish you would just leave me alone.

Hello Again, Pain | Duluth Moms Blog

Life was so great without you. After you left me all those years ago, with each passing day I forgot more and more about what you did to me. How you brought me to the floor in agony when I was 6 months pregnant. How I could barely tolerate sitting or riding in the car, and how I had to conduct meetings while lying on a couch. How I couldn’t even bring you to my father’s burial because of your never-ending, merciless tirade.

When I had my daughter, you relented and snuck away into the shadows. Jealous of my new love, you never took your eyes off me and when the opportunity came, you roared back with a vengeance. Pain, knowing that you stole many of my precious moments and memories with my newborn daughter makes me hate you even more.

After a steady stream of medications, sleepless nights, and visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist, it finally occurred to someone to have me get an MRI. That’s where we found your life source – a badly herniated disc in my lower back where the only remedy was surgery.

As the surgical staff wheeled me away from my husband and 4-month old daughter, I cried, not wanting to be away from my baby yet desperate to do anything to get you out of my life. My biggest fear was that the surgery to separate us wouldn’t work and that you would be with me forever.

But, miracle of miracles, the surgery was successful and little by little, week by week, month by month, you slowly faded away. Pain, I know you didn’t want to leave, and whenever I pushed myself too hard, you paid a visit which served as a reminder I didn’t want to have anything to do with you ever again.

But then one day, I realized I hadn’t heard from you in awhile and breathed a huge sigh of relief. You were finally out of my life. I could forget about you forever – which proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

Fast forward to this summer. I knew it was going to be challenging but felt I was up to packing up a 2400 square foot house, cleaning, moving, a ten-day car trip and training for a 5k. No problem, right?

Wrong. All of this strain on my back was a virtual open door with a flashing neon sign and welcome mat inviting you back into my life. And you accepted the invitation, making a grand entrance and completely upending the last few weeks of my summer. And boy, am I pissed. Not only at you, but with myself. How could I have been so careless?

I have to hand it to you, Pain. You’ve really upped your game. Did you go back to college or something? The stabbing, the twisting, the burning, the numbness – you’ve got it all this time. How on earth did you get that jagged metal wire into the center of my calf muscle? Don’t you have anything better to do than to pull it up and down, over and over? It’s almost like you are punishing me for our breakup — there is hardly anything I can do to get just a moment’s peace and forget about getting a good night’s sleep. Last time we were together, you at least let me enjoy my walks but now, there are times I can barely walk not to mention stand or sit for any amount of time. There goes driving my daughter to Zoo Camp and back-to-school shopping, the trip to Bunker Beach, the projects around the house. 

Having with you with me all the time is stressful, Pain, and being stressed all the time is exhausting. You’re so loud I have a difficult time concentrating on anything else, not that I really feel like doing anything else. The only thing I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep. Highlights of my day include my next dose of Motrin, a fresh ice pack, my daughter’s favorite TV show and the occasional piece of chocolate. Though I’ve run out of chocolate and it hurts too bad to drive to the store to get more.

Hello Again, Pain | Duluth Moms Blog

You’ve become a real pain, Pain.

I have to admit, though, you’ve taught me a lot over the years. When we first met, I was working with people who had their own pain issues and my eyes were opened to what it is like to live with chronic pain, day in and day out. I began to understand that when someone is irritable, impatient, rude or unfriendly, or walks funny, or is just plain out of it, there might be a very good explanation and it has nothing to do with their personality, intelligence or character. It could very well be that they are in pain and that there is nothing they can do about it. 

Not that they haven’t tried everything: The exercises, the treatments, the surgeries, the pills. 

I’ve also learned that even though you want me all to yourself, when I focus on other things like work, house projects, and things I love like my family and music, I can put you in the background if just for a little while. While is tempting to just lay around miserable, I need to get myself up and moving so I can keep moving farther and farther away from you. In fact, my doctor told me I might be able to avoid surgery this time if I walk a lot and avoid lifting anything heavy. And guess what? It’s working!

Pain, you’ve also taught me to have compassion for those who are suffering and who, for whatever reason, have turned to powerful medications and even street drugs to find relief. I know that desperation to find something, anything, to get a break from you for just a minute. Years ago, I was prescribed an opioid medication (without knowing what it really was) and was told it was safe for my nursing baby. It didn’t do a lot for me and I am so thankful I did not become addicted. In fact, I told my nurse to take away the morphine drip 12 hours after my surgery. Unfortunately, this is not everyone’s story and I pray that new pain management techniques become more mainstream so that everyone in pain can reclaim their life. I find it hard to believe that we can put people into outer space but all we can do for those in pain is offer them drugs that have ended so many innocent lives. We’ve got to do better.

Though I am grateful for the lessons you have taught me, Pain, I have hope to once again escape your grip and cannot wait for the day you are out of my life – for good.

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Sarah VanderMeiden
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Sarah is a dyed-in-her-wool-socks Minnesotan whose life-long love of woods and water drew her to move to Duluth 23 years ago this November. An avid hiker, she loves to explore all locales on Lake Superior’s shore, snowshoe frozen North Shore rivers and go for walks in Duluth’s Lester Park. Working in Higher Education for over 20 years, Sarah’s greatest joy was to talk with students about how to navigate the challenges of college, what they wanted to do with their lives and how to make their dreams come true. After stepping out of this career to be a stay-at-home-mom, Sarah has returned to her passion of helping people achieve their personal and professional goals as a Board Certified Coach. To find out more about coaching and her background, visit sarahvandermeiden.com or find her on Facebook at Sarah VanderMeiden Coaching . Sarah’s family lives in the country and share their five acres with a small flock of laying hens, deer, wild turkey, way too many mice and 10,000 honeybees. Sarah has given up gardening and keeping her house clean to pursue her many interests including enjoying the lake, singing, photography and spending time with her family camping in their vintage travel trailer or tickling each other on the couch.