Changing and Gaining Strength

I have learned it’s quite liberating when you politely demand things that you believe you deserve. In a previous post I wrote about my experience with the nurse practitioner at my pain management doctor’s office and how she treated me when I asked for pain medication. Instead of listening to my concerns, she immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was asking for medication that I didn’t need. I was disappointed in myself for not speaking up or even walking out of the office; however, I have learned that speaking in anger hasn’t and doesn’t always serve me well.

After giving it a bit more thought, I wrote a letter to the doctor outlining what occurred and how I was treated. I felt as if he needed to know how displeased I was with someone in his practice and how this would reflect on him. A few weeks later, I received a telephone call from the Pain Management Director (his boss), who wanted to discuss the situation and gather a few more facts. It was a pleasant call — not one to apologize, but a call to explain that the nurse practitioner was new and only doing what she had been instructed. The Director and I are going to meet at my next appointment and discuss patients who fall into what they call the gray area of pain care. Those who, every now and then, need pain medication to help get through the day.

Having that conversation made me feel as if I was speaking for the many patients who deal with pain on a regular basis — those who are unable to escape pain no matter what we do. We don’t abuse medication, but it’s there when we need it. For once, speaking up was the right thing to do and I hope my actions will help others. It also pays to educate yourself and I thank my cousin-in-law for sharing the insights of pain management and how doctors track patient’s prescription use. Information is knowledge really does ring true.

At the same time as managing my illnesses and pain, it has been difficult watching my husband adapt to his new situation of being unemployed. As long as I have known him, he has worked either one or two jobs and has worked since he was 13 years old. It seems as if he doesn’t know what to do with his time although his ‘honey do’ list seems to keep growing. I don’t feel it’s because he’s ‘not working’ — I believe he’s programmed into a cycle and since he was forced out of that cycle, life as he knows it has changed. He, like so many of us, has difficulty accepting change. He spends most of him time applying for jobs, networking, filling out applications and all the other aspects that go into the job searching process. However, no matter how many times I tell him that he will find a job, he has his doubts. This is the first time I have ever seen my husband doubt himself. Could it be because of the crazy economy and the lack of jobs? Or, perhaps, we are just feeling a little beaten up and it hurts to take a blow when you are already feeling low.

I do know that my husband’s lay off has caused me to remember having to give up my job, which to me, meant I was giving up my identity. It’s like we have changed places and I am watching him go through the same situation I went through a few years ago. What I don’t know, is if it’s easier being the participant or the observer. I do know it’s difficult to watch a loved one experience disappointment when you are powerless to do anything. I just work hard to make him laugh and remind him all that we have been through as well as learned. I can’t help but wonder what lessons lie ahead of us as we encounter this new situation. Scary? Yes. However, we are better prepared than we were a few years ago. I have always used the expression, ‘That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.’ I think that by now we should be the strongest people in the world!

Speaking of changes, as we entered Autumn, there seems to have been an immediate shift occurring in the air. Cooler weather has set in and I find myself a bit homesick for the Northeast’s spectacular fall foliage. Leaves change colors all over the world; however, there is something magical about seeing them change in the mountains, it looks like a beautiful colored canvas. When I worked in N.J., I used to take the longer route to and from work during this time of year just to take in all the beauty. I like to think that it’s God’s gift to us as we prepare for the winter months.

And, as we enter the cooler months I have also noticed that no matter which retail store you are in there are signs of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Personally, I find it depressing since Thanksgiving is being overshadowed by Black Friday and many are spending Thanksgiving Day planning out their strategies for shopping the next day. Whatever happened to being thankful on Thanksgiving and beginning your shopping once the leftovers were eaten? I find it sad that people are scheduled to work on Thanksgiving Day and are unable to spend the holiday with family and friends. What happened to all the stores being closed on holidays and Sunday’s? Are we so crunched for time that we must shop on Sunday or the day after Thanksgiving? What are we teaching our children — that it is more important to shop than to be thankful and spend time together as a family?

We started a tradition during the month of November in our house where each family member has to write something they are thankful for and place it on our Family Thanksgiving Tree. These daily comments can be seen or remain confidential, but it gets each of us thinking about how blessed we are and how we need to give thanks for these and many other things during this season and all year through.

Some may call it corny — I call it taking the time to recognize all those things we have instead of focusing on what we don’t. It can be challenging to do this during difficult times. However, our family knows how to put our faith in God and get through the good and bad times. If we were able to make it through the past six years and still have faith…I know we will get through this ordeal as well. What I have learned is that it takes a lot of patience, prayers, faith, family, friends, honesty and open communication. And while our UPS driver may not be dropping off as many packages and our Christmas tree won’t have as many presents under it — what we have learned is far greater than any gift one could receive. I know that I finally grew up and realized that life is about accepting the cards we are dealt. For the leaves on the trees will change colors, die and fall to the ground, but in just a few months, it will once again be Spring and a new season of rebirth will be upon us. Isn’t that amazing?

©My Unplanned Life and 2011.


About mswd

I am an individual living with a spinal cord injury. How the injury occurred, how I found out how severe my injury was and how my planned life suddenly became 'unplanned' is included in this blog. Also included is how the injury has tested my family and me. I believe you will discover it has been both a mentally and physically challenging ordeal and I learned a few lessons along the way. While I am still defining my life’s purpose since the injury, I have uncovered those who are injured, live with pain or have other obstacles to navigate are never able to escape. However, come with me as I explore ways to improve my life, learn to live with multiple neurological conditions, educate others and look for the silver lining. I believe with a little willpower, my caring family and God's guidance I will learn to forgive, hopefully forget how I was treated and dismissed by a doctor and uncover life's new purpose. I pray for painfree days and answers to questions that keep swirling through my mind. I also pray for a cure for neurological conditions and for the doctors to treat their patients with respect. Welcome to my journey. I would love to hear about yours!
This entry was posted in Being Thankful, Depression, Disappointment, Don't Give Up, Dr. Liar, God, Pain Management, Pain Medication, Spinal Cord Injury and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Changing and Gaining Strength

  1. Brenda Jennings says:

    We should have known that God had a purpose for you being treated the way you were at pain managment. He needed your voice to help those unable to express the emotional pain they suffer at the hands of uneducated “professionals” who think they know what it is like to live in pain and stand in judgment of those they are supposed to serve.

    • mswd says:

      Brenda — thank you for lovely message ~ that is such a nice thing to say. I was surprised when I received the telephone call and very happy with the outcome. And, yes, if I have helped others discuss their pain problems with their doctors than I feel very blessed. In the search today for the blog, there were a number of people searching for that very thing — how to talk to their doctor about pain. How timely that I wrote a follow up post that I hope will provide the knowledge they need. As you know, pain can be uncontrollable and we all need a supportive doctor.

      Thank you for your support in the past and now — you are such a special person and I am so glad that we are family as well as friends! Love to you and the family!

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