Oh. My. God: a painfully honest reflection of chronic pain

This week’s blogging comes to you from a very sick, very stressed Jasmin who has an exam she is not ready for on Monday.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had some diagnostic procedures coming up: they went amazingly smoothly despite me being absolutely terrified.IMG_0941

I was so nervous, in fact, that I demanded cupcakes and Thai food as recompense for my ordeal.

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And naturally, I channeled that nervous energy into snapchat selfies.

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I got to see all sorts of cool scans and images of my insides… but I still don’t have an answer for why I experience such intense, constant pain. It’s been really frustrating- I never expected to want a doctor to tell me there’s something wrong with me. In some ways, not knowing is just as scary as receiving bad news.

I’m not proud to admit that I’m struggling, but I’ll admit it anyway because I know that it’s okay to struggle sometimes. And I’m admitting it publically, on a blog that showcases my experience as a student, because I know for a fact that other students struggle too. Today I watched fellow eAmbassador Juan‘s TedTalk about the value of vulnerability and it really struck a chord. I was so inspired by his openness and, like him, I truly believe in the power of exposing the things that make us vulnerable. I’ve been warned that being open about my experience of chronic pain will make me seem boring, and if so, I apologise. But I think boring is a small price to pay for being truthful.

So today, I tried really hard to study for my exam. Within an hour I ended up feeling nauseous, in pain and frustrated. I had to skip the gym… again. I came home and had no energy to cook, so I ordered takeout. I’m very afraid of failing this exam; I don’t think I’ve ever failed one before and I don’t really want to start now. In my head, these are menial tasks, but in my current (and hopefully temporary) reality, they are big challenges. I registered with the incredible Disability Services on campus recently, because having chronic pain is stopping me from fulfilling my potential and I need support to achieve my goals.

Having chronic pain isn’t something I ever thought would happen to me. I never even considered myself to have chronic pain until someone else pointed out that I match the definition. It’s like being joined at the hip with Janice from Friends: it makes getting around take twice as long and twice as difficult, it’s extremely distracting and let’s face it- it’s just plain annoying. Now imagine Janice is silent and invisible to everyone but me.

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Janice has forced me to be a lot more health conscious.

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This was just the starter! I don’t recommend skipping meals AT ALL.

She makes me have to work harder to do the things I love.

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She makes me a little dramatic at times.

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Janice added four inches to my previously slim waistline when she took my energy and fitness.

I love me some bargains, but these babies haven't even seen the gym yet.

I love me some bargains, but these babies haven’t even seen the gym yet.

But Janice has her graces too. She’s made me more compassionate toward people with invisible disabilities. She’s made me take a good hard look at why I’m at uni and what my goals for the future are. I used to be desperate to get out of school, and now I’ve picked out a Masters program. She teaches me to celebrate small victories.

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Janice has taught me who I can rely on, and she’s taught me that it’s okay to need and ask for help.

She’s also taught me how to stay up late, so I’ll sign off here and get some sleep. I have a long day of studying ahead of me tomorrow.

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