Growing up, I was told a lot that I am brave and strong. I was told that I handle my chronic pain bone disorder, Multiple Osteochondromas with grace. Those I loved were attempting to lift me up, but it actually had the opposite effect.
It suffocated me.
I was afraid that if I showed how truly scared I was over having another surgery, or how sick and tired I was of the pain…my family and friends would think less of me. I bottled it up. I tried not to complain when the pain got to be too much, because I knew my parents were powerless to help me. All they could do was take me to my specialist and schedule another surgery, and I didn’t want more surgeries.
Surgeries meant that I wouldn’t be able to pretend I wasn’t afflicted with a chronic pain bone disorder. The art of denial was strong with me in high school, if I denied my differences, ignored my pain and pretended to be just like everyone else (all while hiding each scar and tumor under layers of baggy clothes), maybe I could fit in. Surgeries made that impossible though, because it meant time away from school, long recoveries, plenty of additional pain and it was a hell of a lot harder for me to hide.
But it wasn’t just about hiding, the worst thing about surgeries, for me, was always the anesthesia. I hated the taste and complete loss of control. I hated the heaviness in my limbs and eyelids. I hated the three second count down, and then waking up what felt like five minutes later but was actually hours later in the recovery room, my mouth as dry as sandpaper, completely disoriented. My heart would pound and I would fight to stay awake because I hated drifting to that place of groggy unconsciousness.
It was a total and complete loss of control.
Even now, panic surges every time I step inside a hospital and smell that scent of disinfectant and medicine that lingers in the hallways, and I’ve had over 25 surgeries to remove the painful bone growths.
It has never gotten easier, but I grit my teeth and push through it because I really don’t have any other choice.
Society puts the chronically ill on a pedestal. They treat us like martyrs, and are quick to compliment us on our strength and bravery whilst also quick to change the subject whenever we admit just how hard it really is. We are martyrs, but they don’t want to hear just how bad things can get for us. Our chronic pain makes them uncomfortable, and they do not know what to say to us.
But we are not martyrs, I am not a martyr. I am a human being living with a chronic pain bone disorder, and I would feel far more comforted by those around me if they took the time to listen to my tales instead of slapping a hero sticker on me and calling it a day.
J.C. Hannigan lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, their two sons and their dog.
She writes contemporary new adult romance and suspense. Her novels focus on relationships, mental health, social issues, and other life challenges.
J.C can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.