Quitting to Live

Today's ashes are tomorrow's soil.

Craig D. Lounsbrough


It was a big and final decision – to stop medical marijuana. It had been the new hope and, miraculously, initially turned the pain off like a tap. I stood and sat longer. The pain refrain silenced – I didn't realize how strong was its beat until it stopped and my back was filled with white space. Doors opened – possibilities.

Within hours I also had vicious cramps. Stopped the marijuana, my stomach subsided; retried it and within 4 hours I was wrung out again with cramps. “It's all trial and error,” I was told. And I tried: oil, creams, suppositories, coconut oil bases. Of course, the cramps increased my back pain; stomach and back go hand in hand. Pain broke through; my sleep was worse and my stomach wretched. But still I tried, hoping I could get the magic mix. All the time, I felt half dead, with no life or joy.

For 12 years, I have tried to fix my back, not only for myself, but for Bill. He has been so patient and kind, but this isn't the retirement he had planned and worked for. So as long as there's a hope, I will try. There's also that niggling thought that if I give up, that means in some way I want the pain – brainwashed by earnest books on mind over matter.

When I look back, there's a clear pattern: try a therapy, be it physio, chiro, you name it. Treatment, come out feeling beaten, persevere (must give it a fair trial), recover (months after physio, a week with chiro), try another approach. Two pain clinics – injected me, gave epidurals, which failed and took 6 months to recover from. I am too skinny for their final offering – burning the nerve.

No one tells you how to make this big decision: when is enough? When does my trying actually get in the way of my living? All I can find are cheerleading quotes about never quitting. Nowhere do they say that you might be pushing in the wrong direction. That your very trying might stop you from living.

So now I must reevaluate: what matters most – being able to do more or feeling alive? The cost of a wider life is feeling drugged, dreary and confused, afraid of crossing the road. If I stick where I am, I may be very limited (lying down frequently and tied to the house) and still, of course, in pain, but I am happy. I feel joy. My head is full of ideas. Life is worth living.

The biggest lesson – when to stop pushing?



About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
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