Shannon's Story Life on Life's Terms
Providing Complex Pain Recovery® Services is truly an honor and a privilege. People invite me to walk alongside them as they accept the challenge of living life on life’s terms. Courageously leaning into the process of recovery and self-discovery, one day at a time.
Shannon is one of those clients that I refer to as a Rock Star. This is the status I lovingly give to the clients that break free from the vicious cycle and torments of chronic pain and illness. They are the clients that come to understand the process of recovery takes time. They become willing and humbly accept the reality of where they are today and commit to action.
I know Shannon’s story will instill hope and inspire. Recovery is not achieved alone. If you are in a place where there are no solutions, please know that there are many that have been precisely where you are today. There are many that, one day at a time, with a new perspective, choose to live life on life’s terms and thrive. Thank you, Shannon, for sharing your experience, strength, and hope. You are brave.
I Am More Than My Pain
I have been feeling compelled to share a bit of my story; my experience, strength, and hope. Chronic pain, addiction, anxiety, and depression used to cripple me. Chronic pain became my entirety. It consumed me. I felt alone, isolated, extreme sadness, worthlessness, shame, and guilt. I lost my purpose in life. I lost myself completely. My story is one of past struggle, loss, and grief turned to acceptance, self love, compassion, hope, strength, and spirituality. This process was difficult, but as I sit here writing, feelings of happiness surround me. For the first time I began to love myself, and that feeling is amazing. I became vulnerable. I became teachable. I surrendered. What I was doing was not working, so I had to rely on my Higher Power (God), my fellowship, the 12-steps, literature, my therapists, support groups, others experiencing the same thing as me, treatment, and those people conquering their disease and their negative, obsessive, and sick thoughts. My chronic pain began in 2006 (at 26 years of age), first with my right ankle, and in 2007 in my low back and glute. The pain became crippling and consuming. At the time I was teaching music at an elementary school, and I loved it! I was also a music therapist, working with kids with special needs. I also played my viola a lot! Music was my therapy, my way of expressing myself, my love, my passion, and it strengthened me, inside and out. As my chronic pain increased I began to lose myself. I could no longer do the things I once could. After having every procedure recommended by my doctors, countless trips to physical therapists, seeing a variety of doctors and neurosurgeons, I had spinal surgery (Laminectomy/Discectomy at Right L4/5). I felt like the surgery could finally be the answer. After spinal surgery my life began falling apart even more. My spinal surgery had failed. The doctors called it post laminectomy syndrome. The pain increased, the nerve pain became unbearable, and I had to resign from my job. It was way too physically demanding, and my body was shutting down more and more. I ended up in the hospital again and again, with no answers. I was miserable. I did not want to live like this, so I asked God to take me away from the pain and this world. I became bedridden. I began overtaking my prescription medications to not only try to numb my pain, but also to numb my feelings. My life was a disaster. My life was completely unmanageable. I had hit rock bottom. I now realize that to be where I am today I needed to experience that grief, loss, and suffering. I also realize that I had to accept these feelings head on. I needed to work from the inside out...not the outside in. One of the most difficult parts of this process for me has been grieving my former self. I constantly fought the pain, though now I know that I must work with it. Today, most of the time, I accept my powerlessness, and have the courage to look inside myself and face my past trauma and my current pain. I try to meditate, and set my intention for the day. I am compassionate and loving to myself, most of the time; just as I would be to a friend. I try to remind myself that a thought is just a thought, and although I can not control my initial thought, I have the awareness that I have a choice to reframe that thought. Years ago I did not have the courage to face my issues head on, though with time, I have begun to be more patient with myself, reminding myself to “embrace change, and trust in the process.”
My Chronic Pain Support Group and the fellowship of Chronic Pain Anonymous (CPA) have helped me learn how to better cope with my pain. In the past I tried to escape from it, though today I have learned to use many tools to cope with it. It took a shift in my thinking, a shift in my perspective on life, a shift toward hope. It is so freeing! I have a sense of direction, and a feeling of purpose! I am learning to love and forgive myself, while accepting my pain and life on life’s terms. I am beginning to notice moments of joy throughout my day. I know that I will have difficult days, and that is okay. I do not have to let it define me. Pain is only a part of me, not my whole. My goal is to live for today, and stay in the present, focusing on gratitude, and noticing the gifts that life has to offer.