Six years ago today, September 6, 2005, pain came to reside in my face. Coincidentally, the earth has traveled around the sun enough times so that today shares that actual calendar date as that one--Tuesday, September 6, the day after Labor Day.
At the top are photos of a piece of art I created to express my pain.
Because my pain disorder, like many of them, is an “invisible” one, people find it hard to understand how I can look so “normal” when I hurt so badly. I created this artwork as one way to help others understand a bit of my life with pain. Using a styrofoam wig form, I began with covering it with information about my disorder printed from websites, along with my personal writings and poems.
Then, I glued onto the head, some of pills I have accumulated over the years either from medications to which I had either negative or else no helpful response; or were left-overs from post-surgical care. (I saved these up for about four years, thinking I would do something with them eventually.)
Everywhere you see red pills on the face, such as on her lips, and in her ears, represents where I feel the worst pain. My lips, teeth and tongue feel like they are in burning hot water; and my ears are hypersensitive to sound, which makes for a lot of discomfort. Plus, the red pills creating a jagged red mark across her cheek denotes where I feel the majority of the burning, aching, and shredding sensation that is with me much of the time.
In addition, if you look closely, you can see some white pills zig-zagging around the jagged red mark on her check, plus more on the sides and back of her head. These represent the electric shocks I used to get frequently. Thank God, I rarely experience o these, since I had brain surgery in 2008. (These are simply baby aspirin--I took liberties here since I needed so many!)
On the back of her head, you can also see another line of white pills running up from the neck. This represents my surgical incision from 2008. Mine is about 4 ½ inches long—it looks longer on this model.
Around the neckline, I glued the rest of my accumulated pills.
People are shocked to imagine how much medication I have taken over the years, when they see how much medication I have NOT taken.
I am not thrilled either with having to take so much medication either--who would be? My goal is to take as little as I can, but as much as I need to live well. Medication never covers all my pain—if it did—I would be comatose! But, I feel it is important to let people, including those who are well and those who are ill, see that medication plays a big role in living well with pain.
Moving on, you'll see that her head sits on empty medication bottles; then onto a blue glass plate. Everything is glued down and sprayed with about ten coats of clear acrylic gloss. I used some small flat glass marbles to add some dimension to the bottom of the piece.
I tried to give the woman a serious, focused expression, not bounding with energy or exuding with happiness, but also not given to despair. She recognizes that her life has gone into a direction that she would have never chosen, and yet she is learning, ever so slowly, to accept the changes as she draws closer to Christ.
She has two slightly different expressions. On the left side of her face, she reveals more of the quiet pain with which she lives. On the right, she reveals a determination to move forward in hope in faith, despite this being the side that experiences the most pain. She has an illness, but it does not define her. If you use your imagination, you might be able to picture that she has a sense of peace and joy in her expression.
This is what I hope she portrays, anyway, because this is what I desire to be like.
As I considered this piece, and ruminated over these six years, a deep, gnawing ball grew in my stomach. My will to be like her, dissolved as tears turned everything into a haze. I cried for myself, and for the tens of thousands of others who hurt every day, as well as for the thousands who hurt every moment of every day.
I longed to live, just for a day, as the woman who I was before 2005, when there was no pain, and energy and strength to spare. Dark mourning and wretched anguish closed in all around me as I languished in my sorrow and longing for the woman who used to be me.
I don't know how long it lasted, but there came a moment of realization when a decision had to be made. That moment when something niggles at you, telling you that you need to decide either to leave that place right now, or it is going to become a whole lot uglier.
I had to choose.. Half of me wanted to stay there, letting my sense of loss flow over me like a flood. The other half knew I could stand up right then, and thank God aloud for all that I am able to do, and for the amazing people He has brought into my life because of the pain.
Knowing that I had this blog to write, helped me make the best choice. I did stand up, and what I thanked God for is for you, who come here in search of encouragement, ideas, or perhaps a friend. I prayed that you might find it, as I step out into my seventh year with pain.
God Bless you, my fellow sojourners,
and others who have found their way here—
Until Next Time,