Chronically Grateful Day 3: How Overcoming A Hard Situation Can Leave Us With A Grateful Heart

We all have our own hardships and face our own demons. However, it’s important to be able to look back on our hardships with a grateful heart in order to see the good that has come from it. 

I will share a story of mine about a hard situation I overcame that has left me feeling grateful for having gone through it and hopefully you will be able to do the same about a hardship in your own life.

I started playing softball at a very young age. My older siblings played softball and baseball and my dad coached for all of them. He introduced us to the game that he fell in love with so long ago, and I happened to fall in love as well. I played on a competitive fastpitch softball team for my entire childhood all the way until almost the end of high school. Throughout its entire era, my dad was the coach and we had more or less the same group of girls throughout the years. 

I started getting exertion (exercise induced) headaches when I was about 12 years old. It started as headaches that would come on when I was active in the high heat and humidity. As time went on, the headaches became more frequent and intense. I started having to sit out large portions of practices and games because my headaches were so bad. Time continues and the headaches are brought on any time I ran a lot even if it wasn’t hot or humid. I started to feel useless and inadequate as i sat on the bench wishing my pain away while my teammates continued to play. 

I started to try to play through my headaches. Even when it felt my like head was going to explode into millions of pieces, I still went up to bat and still ran out to centerfield so I wouldn’t have to tell my dad “I have a headache, I need to sit out.” Time and time again. It was getting repetitively upsetting to have to ask to sit out when all I wanted was to stay in the game. Looking back on it though, it was dangerous to myself and my health to play through migraines. I had no focus at bat and only thought about how soon I could get back in the dugout instead of actually wanting to be out on the field. 

As the time came around that my teammates were actively trying to get looked at by college coaches, I had a decision to make. I made the decision to stop playing the game I loved because my headaches said so. It was the hardest decision I had made at that point in my life. As a result, the team dismembered and my dad stopped coaching. I was devastated. 

This was my junior year of high school, and it’s one I will never forget. I was sad a lot of the time, I cried myself to sleep more often than I’d like to admit and I missed the people I had come to consider family. There was a hole in my heart that had before been filled with my ability to play the game I so badly wanted to continue playing.

Softball was all I knew. I spent every weekend and multiple week nights with these people and I loved every minute of it. The thought of losing those friendships killed me. Even more, the thought of never being able to hit a line drive over the shortstops head to win the game or throw a girl out at home from centerfield broke my heart even more.

I’ve since been able to reflect on this. I see now what would NOT have happened had I been able to keep playing and face the possibility of playing college ball.

I would not have attended Virginia Tech for the four most amazing years of my life. Therefore I wouldn’t have made the amazing friends that I did or have all of the exciting (sometimes ridiculous) adventures and experiences that I had. I mean I consider myself so lucky to have met people that even from my freshman year to this day, I consider to be my best friends. 

If I hadn’t gone to Virginia Tech, if I had possibly ended up playing college ball at some other school, I wouldn’t be the person I am today writing this post. Because I was made to overcome this hard situation in my life, I ended up going to a school in a town with the most amazing people that I now can’t picture my life any other way. And for that, I am grateful. 

Stronger Than Superman

A pretty bold headline there, but I’m goin for it.

Earlier today I had to get another MRI, this time with and without the contrast dye so that meant another needle to the arm to deliver the contrast dye. I’m trying to target what’s causing my headaches (as I have been trying to do for the past 8 years.) But lately I’ve been making more momentum with my neurologist and really taking different paths and options to see if I stumble upon any answers. So that meant more testing.

Not only do I hate (and often faint after) being stuck with needles, I also am slightly claustrophobic so being inside an MRI machine isn’t my idea of a Sunday Funday.

However, I didn’t exactly have a choice.

One thing that fascinates me in a really great way, is seeing how strong some people are. Especially people going through a medical problem, people who have chronic pain or a chronic disorder/illness, people who time after time, haven’t been given any answers. These people are the strongest. (I like to think I’m included in this category, heh.)

At times, we break. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human. But we have to stay strong through all the poking and prodding because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be fighting. We have to remain physically strong during treatments, testing, hospital visits, surgeries and periods of time where the pain is unbearable. We have to remain emotionally strong in order to not give in to depression, anxiety and such but also to help support the people who support us. We have to stay emotionally strong for others, because it’s hard on them seeing us go through these things. We have to remain mentally strong during times when we simply want to stop trying, and let life be life and just live with what we’ve got.

People who go through cancer and life-threatening illnesses are superhuman in my eyes. I know that what I go through, while it’s painful, debilitating and frustrating, it still could be much much worse. The people who have it worse and fight through all of that, I give you an everlasting standing ovation.

The strongest people around us are not the ones with the bulging biceps or toned six pack. They’re the ones who fight a battle every day even when they lose, keep on fighting.

You may not be 6’3, sporting a strong jaw and a rockin suit with an S on your chest. You can’t leap buildings in a single bound. No that’s not you. Because you, my friend are stronger than that. You are stronger than Superman.

One Good Thing About Music, When It Hits You, You Feel No Pain

Ever since I can remember, music has been an escape for me. Not creating it or writing it (not everyone is blessed with musical talents) but simply opening my mind and listening to it. I’m not a picky listener. I’m not genre biased. I don’t enjoy one kind of music over another. I just enjoy good music.

Whether I was laying in bed with a pounding head, crying over some relationship gone wrong, brooding over an argument, frustrated with the difficulties I’ve faced, hitting an emotional rock bottom, or just having “one of those days” it’s always music that soothes my soul. I put on my favorite songs and let them heal me. Music eases my mind and my heart. It gives me advice when I don’t want it. It wipes away my tears and holds my hand through the storms.

In contrast, when I’m having an unexpectedly great pain-free day, music keeps me lifted. It keeps my spirits high. It makes the grass a little greener and the sky a little bluer.

Music tells us stories we can relate to. Songs take us on journeys when we aren’t strong enough to create a journey for ourselves. 

I’d like to share with you songs that have helped me through rough times, stood by my side when I needed a friend, and helped keep my smile strong. Music has helped me hold on to hope when I am constantly hearing unhelpful answers from doctors, or coming back from another trip to the smelly hospital.

I’ll try to share a song a week. Later today I’ll post the first one. (I feel it necessary to remind everyone that these won’t be my songs. I didn’t write them, produce them, what have you. I just enjoy the sounds they create. Gotta cover all your bases posting on the Internet these days)

Hopefully these songs can do for you what they’ve done for me. Or at least inspire you to find some music yourself to keep you company during your own hardships.

Living with chronic pain is a battle. This life is a roller coaster. Some days will be great and other days make you not want to wake up. Everyone needs a method(s) of healing. One of mine is music.

Bob Marley really knew what he was talking about, people.

Letting Go Of Fear, Giving Into Hope

FullSizeRender (2)

I try to jot down sayings, phrases, quotes, what have you that stick out to me, relate to me, or inspire me. This one, like many, is easier said than done for people with a chronic illness or pain. I put in a lot of my strength toward not worrying about the future. Not worrying that I will never find a solution to my problem. Not worrying that the next day won’t be any better than the last.

In reality, worrying does nothing good for us. I know that, yet still allow myself to give into it most days. I often receive words from my support system to “not worry about the next day until it comes.” or to “just be hopeful that tomorrow you will feel better.”

These words are appreciated, heard and taken to heart. But as someone who wakes up every day with the same head pain day in and day out, these words are hard to follow.

Hope and fear are two of the most powerful things in this world. I give into both of them. I fear that I may never see a day where I can make it through an entire day without feeling some type of head pain. I fear that no matter how much research is done, that in my time here on Earth I may never see a cure for my disorder or disorders/illnesses of other people in this world.

Living with this fear though, I’ve learned that in my hardest times and my most scared moments, the thing I always turn back to for reassurance is hope.

Hope has kept me going during times where I sometimes don’t want to keep going. Hope has given me strength when I feel at my weakest. Hope is the one that helps me shine my light and smile. Hope sometimes helps me forget about my daily fight and allows me to live happily throughout most days.

So while it’s inevitable that we will continue to live in fear of the future, I go to sleep every night hoping that the next day will bring me something brighter and better than the day before.