Wednesday seemed like a bad dream. A visit to the doctor revealed the unthinkable, my SCS battery had moved, apparently because of a blow to my side received from a large mammal wearing a Speedo and fins, encountered during a recent snorkeling adventure in the

Bermuda Triangle.

 Facing a surgical reposition I realize that I must have lost my lucky rabbit’s foot too, and somehow the gilded magic mirror hanging in the master bathroom has developed a hairbrush shaped crack. YIKES, how many years bad luck is that? At times like this, it’s so hard to stay positive; you know those times when life is filled to overflowing with physical challenges, when hopes and plans are crushed.

Chronic pain and illness can be more than challenging, sometimes becoming a living nightmare that doesn’t care about your dreams and doesn’t send a letter of intent before moving in to consume your life. Pain and illness sneak in quietly like a dense fog; damp and achy, enveloping everything in their paths and reducing a once bright future to a vague memory.

That is, if you let it.

I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking; one form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy used in pain management that I learned while participating in Johns Hopkins Blaustein Pain Treatment Center with a group of other individuals suffering varying degrees of pain from injuries and invisible illnesses like MS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, and RA. Throughout my treatment, which included a combination of medicinal, physical, cognitive group and individual therapies, I realized that we all have the opportunity to choose how we react to situations in our lives.  This was made vividly clear not by the therapists, but my fellow participants. Some of the patients slunk around like little black rain clouds, who would angrily burst dropping rain on virtually every parade they encountered. Seeing no value in simply being, they allowed their optimism to be evicted the day chronic pain moved in.  They were miserable, so everyone must know just how horrible their existence was. Dare to say an uplifting or encouraging word and punishment came in a deluge of negativity. That program changed my life. I vowed, despite the amount of pain I was having, that I would NEVER be a miserable little black cloud raining on everyone’s day.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference![i]

On more difficult days where I find I need an attitude adjustment to keep my sunny demeanor, I draw strength and courage to remain positive from inspiring people like Brianna; an adorable ten year old with an amazing outlook on life, despite her circumstances. Brianna was born with severe scoliosis. Two months before her third birthday, doctors screwed rods along her little spine to prevent development restriction of other organs like her lungs, and this summer, Brianna will undergo surgery number 17.

Recently, her mom proudly posted an assignment Brianna had completed while learning about Martin Luther King. I was deeply touched when I saw this and asked for permission to share it with you dear ones, in hopes of encouraging you on days that pain or disappointment has stolen your joy. As you read Brianna’s words, notice that her world reaches far beyond herself, her circumstances or even her needs. Her dreams are from the depth of an innocent heart, sweet and untainted despite the storms she has encountered.


briannas dream

[i] Winston Churchill