I woke up to this Adele song stuck in my head today and at first I thought it was just a nice melody to sing along to, since I knew the words so well. But then I started to think about the lyrics above, and much deeper thoughts began to run through my mind. The first two lines of this song so vividly capture my journey with chronic pain. “How so?” you may ask.
Well, for 16 years I was the person who was “chasing pavements.” I had a mystery illness that led me to have to search the entire country for an answer. I had severe heel pain and back pain and could not walk, stand, or sit. No doctor understood what was causing it and no test would reveal it’s answer. It completely consumed my life. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was a healthy girl, who at 15 starting having debilitating bilateral heel pain and burning. And despite seeing numerous specialists throughout the country, not one had a clue what was causing this unusual pain.
I remember so clearly doctors saying to me and my mom, “This is very complicated… I wish I had an answer.” I also remember at the age of 16 a thoughtless doctor saying, “I have no idea what this is, and for the amount of money your insurance pays me… I’ve spent enough time with you.” But, despite the endless disappointing and frustrating doctor’s appointments, off we would go to search for another doctor who could possibly have the answer to making me well. Sadly, it took till I was 31 years old to get the correct and confirming diagnosis that I had a form of Seronegative Inflammatory Arthritis (meaning Arthritis that doesn’t show up in blood and imaging tests, as most Inflammatory Arthritis typically does).
So, as you can see for 16 years of my life I had two options: “Keep chasing pavements” or “give up.” I chose to keep chasing pavements… even though I knew it could lead nowhere. There were countless number of times where I wanted to give up in finding an answer, so many heartbreaking moments that I could tell you. The deep agony of experiencing physical pain that had no name and no one understood. The endless friends that gave up on me, because they could not understand my invisible pain. The painfulness of living a life on the sidelines while I watched my peers and friends do everything I wanted to do, but could not.
I could have so easily given up and taken the doctor’s advice (which several ones offered me) which was to get used to the pain because there was no way to treat it. I could have fallen into a deep despair, and lost hope that I could ever have any kind of life. But, despite my moments, I didn’t. I never gave up on my faith and strong belief that there was an answer to be revealed. I kept chasing pavements to find this answer, because I knew there was one.
Don’t get me wrong, even though I now have the answer, it doesn’t mean I am still not chasing pavements every day. My journey is far from over. I am still trying to find the right medication to bring me the relief I need to create an independent life. I am still trying to find meaning and purpose in my life despite the chronic pain I face. And, I am still searching for love which I hope to find in a special man who can understand what I’ve been through and still go through.
So, no, I don’t think it would be a “waste” to “keep chasing pavements,” because giving up is not an option for me and it shouldn’t be for you.
Courtesy of Lauren Blumer