I don’t remember what normal feels like. Nine years ago my health started to deteriorate. I began suffering severe pain while I was pregnant with my second son, Thomas and it never went away. I have seen countless doctors. I have had two major surgeries. The first a spinal fusion which fused my spine from T2-L4 to stabilize it and mitigate further damage from scoliosis. The second was an elective hysterectomy because I was tired of being bedridden for a week of each month in agonizing pain. That was one pain issue I could cure, unlike the vast majority of my pain issues. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in physical therapy, massage therapy, and dry needling. There have been numerous steroid injections, and I am the proud owner of my own pharmacy. Heating pads and ice packs are close personal friends. I’ve chased natural methods like oils, supplements, diet, and exercise. Some of these treatments have helped. Some of them have not. However, over the last nine years, I’ve assembled an extensive bag of parlor tricks to manage my pain, to be a functioning mother, wife, and friend; so I can be something beyond my pain. In the last nine years, I have learned how to live and thrive despite my medical issues. I have made sure that my medical problems don’t define me, while at the same time being open about the struggles of living with chronic pain to help raise awareness.
One of the most common things I hear is, “I don’t know how you do it.” Followed up by, “You are superwomen.” I am not superwoman. There is nothing special about me. It isn’t some fantastic secret power that allows me to do what I do. There are thousands and thousands of women and men, just like me- living with chronic pain, disabilities, and chronic illnesses that are thriving just like I am. I do what any mother would do. I strive to give my children the best life I can. I want them to have a happy childhood. I want them to know that they are loved. I don’t want them to look back on their childhood and think, our childhood sucked. Mom was always unhappy, miserable, and sick. I refuse to let my illness destroy their youth, and so I fight back against it with every fiber of my being. That isn’t being superwoman; it’s a mother.
People with disabilities, chronic pain, or chronic illness don’t want to be superheroes. Sure, it can be flattering when someone says, “Man, I can’t imagine living with your condition, you must have superpowers.” However, the reality is that most of us would love to be normal again. We would love not to hurt. We would love not to be sick all the time. We would love not to have to count spoons of energy. We would love not to have to weigh every choice by the consequences it would have on our health and be able to go with the flow living without worries. However, until cures are found for us, we will continue to fight against our diseases and pain. We will fight to be more than our illness/pain. We will fight to be the best parent, spouse, and friend we can be. We aren’t superheroes. We are just regular people, who have different challenges then you do. We want to make the best life for ourselves and our families that we possibly can.