There are no rules in writing. And there are no closets to hide in when it comes to “over-sharing.”
Where do you draw the line? For me, I draw the line at exposing my family members’ and friends’ stories in a way that is disrespectful of their privacy.
But for myself — all bets are off.
I haven’t always felt this way but as I strive more and more to live in my truth, it becomes harder to not disclose the difficult, the embarrassing, the truly raw and personal.
Which is why, of late, I have been more open about my health struggles. Other Medium writers have inspired me to be more truthful about this part of my life.
For example, Zach J. Payne is very open about his health challenges and does so in a genuine, heart-wrenching manner that evokes empathy and reminds us to be mindful of the suffering of others.
Here is just one example of his unabashed self-exposure:
Can I Crowdfund Myself a New Body?
Because this thing is basically a Ford Pinto and it’s done.
Another Medium writer that inspires me to unapologetically open the door to self-exposure is Shannon Ashley who openly discusses mental health issues and calls us all to shatter the stigmas against mental health challenges (sidenote: Zach J. Payne does this as well). She blogs about her life without filter. I find this refreshing, and well, kick-ass.
Here is a sample of her fearless vulnerability:
You Are Allowed To Write Despite Your Many Issues
Perhaps that’s what your readers like best about you.
So, in the spirit of vulnerability, I’d like to share, without apology or pity-seeking intent, today — I am in pain. Considerable pain. Earlier today it was laying-on-your-face-on-the-couch-and-sobbing kind of pain.
And because I write, because that is what I do…here I am.
Nerve pain is no joke. It is a raging beast that seizes you and has its way with you. There is no fighting it. You lose. Very few medications will even touch it, aside from opioids (which are not prescribed anymore here due to the opioid crisis) and some medications such as Lyrica (which I am allergic to) and a few other medications such as Neurontin, which is not a pain medication, but a medicine that helps calm the nerves.
You can take all the Tylenol you want — nothing. I already take an anti-inflammatory daily so Ibuprofen is off the table. Do NOT Ice nerve pain! Unless you want the lightning show to be ICE-LIGHTNING pain.
I take a very substantial amount of Neurontin to treat my chronic pain and nerve pain. 1800 mg per day. This is also an anti-seizure medication often used for people suffering from epilepsy. This has caused me significant weight-gain, but it is the most effective treatment available to me.
So the fact that I am having horrific nerve pain, and have in conjunction had facial seizures, in spite of all the Neurontin and anti-inflammatory I am on, then I guess that says this tooth thing is serious.
For those of you that haven’t read my post explaining the situation, you can catch up here.
I saw the orthopedic doctor this morning and was very pleased to hear that I do not need neck surgery to deal with the disc issue and bone spurs in my neck. This is the first good news we’ve had all week! But the doctor did say that she believes I am suffering from some type of pain disorder and gave me a referral to a pain clinic. She recommended CBD oil treatments as well.
Given my body’s response to pain (inflammatory, exponential, difficult to manage) the current dental nightmare that I am in is even more unbearable.
I need emergency surgery to remove three teeth, two impacted wisdom teeth that are sitting on the nerves causing Trigeminal neuralgia, and an infected tooth feeding infection in and around one of the wisdom teeth. The occipital nerve is also part of the problem even though it is on the back of my head— because for me and whatever pain disorder or condition I have when one nerve gets inflamed — it invites its nearby friends to the party.
Facial Pain, Trigeminal Neuralgia
Facial pain info, trigeminal neuralgia is an inflammation of the trigeminal nerve causing extreme pain and muscle…
This is what my dentist said to me after a drastic exclamation at the x-ray imagery; composed and alarmed he explained:
- I have never seen anything like this before in my career.
- It is no wonder you have been in terrible pain.
- The nerve damage in your face may be permanent at this point.
- You cannot wait.
- This could end your life.
So, there it is. Full disclosure. I guess I should point out that 2 days prior to the dental appointment my boyfriend lost his job. Aside from what I make on Medium (and 8 weeks in, that’s not a super whole lot yet) he is my only source of income.
The tears in my house the last few days have been many. There have been intimate moments of shared fear and worry, and my current medical situation has done nothing to alleviate our worries.
Yes, I’m whining here. And that is ok. I am grateful to have this thing — this writing thing — as an outlet. Perhaps someone out there in the world of words is reading this and thinking — I AM NOT ALONE. (I see you, by the way. I get you. You are ok.)
Pain teaches you empathy. It is a costly lesson.
After the recent ER visits (x4 in 6 days!) and doctor visits, a stay in the hospital, and the last 2 weeks of intermittent nerve pain through my face, I sit here grateful for my dentist. He wrote me a pain prescription (the first one I have had in nearly 3 years), he empathized with my pain, and he showed true concern over my health.
I know you are hurting. And I am sorry. — memorize these words. This is what you say to someone who is hurting.
If someone tells you they are in pain, do not look at them suspiciously. Pain is sometimes invisible. That does not mean it isn’t there!
So, as I wait nervously for my June 4th surgical consult, and work to “raise” the money for the surgery, I will write when I can. I will keep trying. I will get up, show up, and do the best I can. That’s the plan. And when the pain is too much, I will bear that as bravely as possible.
Nerve pain is a beast. it does not care who you are or how tough you are — it wins.
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. — Lance Armstrong
Expect there to be some poetry over the next few weeks that may be a bit more “deep and dramatic” than my whimsical faeries-on-swings, happy singing moon stuff ;) It’s ok — -pain is a great creative catalyst.
Thank you all for reading. It is of great comfort.
Christina Ward is a poet and aspiring author working on her first book, a piece of literary, mainstream fiction. She is a columnist for the Observer News Enterprise newspaper. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Catawba College in Environmental Science, which greatly influences her work. She also studied creative writing and English at Catawba. Her poetry has been published in the Cameo literary magazine, the Arrowhead literary magazine, Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, and in Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine. She lives in rural North Carolina with her family. Buy me a coffee