Life Through the Window Pain

– Posted in: Blogging, Chronic Pain, Tammy Thinks

I started a Tumblr page today. I basically know NOTHING about Tumblr except that as a result of being on it, I follow a guy who’s making a different balloon animal every day and woman who draws funny penguins and writes wry comments about them. Otherwise, as a social media platform, I find it generally perplexing.

But from what I can tell, it’s a good place for my new project: The Window Pain. See, for the last 20 years, I’ve had chronic painfibromyalgia and atypical facial pain (which is kind of like trigeminal neuralgia only with a slow burn, not lightning strikes that flatten you). Pain is with me all the time. And I think about it all the time. But here’s the problem…

Because I’m always thinking about pain, I often think about writing about pain. But I don’t want to write about pain because I’m sick of talking about pain. And lord knows everyone else must be tired of hearing me talk about pain. Don’t get me wrong — you guys are all great. You’re super supportive and extremely empathetic, and I couldn’t ask for better friends. But let’s face it — at some point, don’t you just feel like saying, “Can we talk about something else?”

When Pain Gets Boring

My friend, Vanita, found this passage from a book called The Last Resort by Alison Lurie that perfectly describes living with pain and people around you being “over it”:

“Having a chronic illness, Molly thought, was like being invaded. Her grandmother back in Michigan used to tell about the day one of their cows got loose and wandered into the parlor, and the awful time they had getting her out. That was exactly what Molly’s arthritis was like: as if some big old cow had got into her house and wouldn’t go away. It just sat there, taking up space in her life and making everything more difficult, mooing loudly from time to time and making cow pies, and all she could do really was edge around it and put up with it.

When other people first became aware of the cow, they expressed concern and anxiety. They suggested strategies for getting the animal out of Molly’s parlor: remedies and doctors and procedures, some mainstream and some New Age. They related anecdotes of friends who had removed their own cows in one way or another. But after a while they had exhausted their suggestions. Then they usually began to pretend that the cow wasn’t there, and they preferred for Molly to go along with the pretense.” 

So this is why I’ve started my Tumblr page. I need to do something with the thoughts and emotions that get in my way every day. But I don’t want them to be the cow that takes up my entire house. So I’m giving the cow her own little room where she can moo as loudly as she’d like.

A Chronic Pain Photo Journal

Every day, I’m going to try to take a picture that shows a little piece of what I’m going through. It probably won’t be accurate as far as how my entire day turned out. Maybe it got better, maybe it got worse. As I just said to a friend, I’m like Six Flags — a constant roller coaster of ups and downs. And you never know where you’ll catch me.

But I’m also a whole lot of fun (at least I try to be). At least on the upside. And that’s sort of the point of this. As much as I appreciate everyone saying really nice stuff when I’m feeling like crap, I don’t want that to be my “thing.” I don’t want it to be the only thing I write about or the only thing people think about when they see me or the only thing we talk about at a party.

But that’s another reason why I need The Window Pain. I’ve gotten used to keeping so much of my real, daily feelings close to the vest. I’m an excellent faker. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing — sometimes it’s just how you get through the day. But it’ll be a relief to have somewhere to put it all.

So here’s the plan: I’m going to post through Instagram and Twitter. Every once in a while, I’ll post to the World’s Worst Moms Facebook page, but I don’t want to do that every day because like I said, I don’t want this to be the focus of your life on my life. If you want to follow along, feel free. If you want to step away, please don’t feel badly about it.

Because I know if I could, I’d be more than happy to pretend the cow wasn’t there.

The Window Pain -- A photo journal of a life with chronic pain

14 Comments… add one

vanita January 3, 2014, 3:35 am

hugs Tammy. follow you anywhere. and woman i hope you didn’t think that passage was me saying i’d prefer you to pretend. i just … get it. I’ve had arthritis since I was 10. I totally get it.

sistersfromanothermister January 3, 2014, 5:26 am

You know, a cow is an awfully big thing to hide away, or pretend its not there .. and also, they have beautiful eyes .. so I am going to keep following along wherever you go, because its all you, the real you and that is kinda what I come here for. Hugs xxx

AlwaysARedhead January 3, 2014, 6:45 am

I don’t often write about my chronic pain, because at one point people were afraid to ask me how I was and in turn, really didn’t chat with me, mind you, my face usually tells all.
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Wombat Central January 3, 2014, 8:02 am

Girl, you just made me jump into Tumblr, when I still haven’t figured out Twitter. Or Instagram. I feel the urge to tell some kid to get off my lawn right now. Also, what kind of jackwagon would sign up on Tumblr as wombatcentral when they’re not me?! *sigh* I’m on as wombatpix. I may post pics of my half-painted toenails or some other such excitement. Hugs.
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Andrea January 3, 2014, 6:51 pm

This sounds like a great idea for you (and your cow). Will certainly come visit.

LindySez January 6, 2014, 3:28 pm

A cow should have its own room, as long as it’s not in a China shop. Pain is a hard thing to simply ignore, although lord knows, we try too…
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Cher January 6, 2014, 5:10 pm

I’m so sorry for what you are going through and I am so inspired by the way you are managing it – thanks for sharing!
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Elle January 6, 2014, 5:54 pm

I’m so sorry Tammy. One of the most challenging things about focusing on what we want and not what we don’t want is dealing with our physical body. It’s pretty damned hard to be focused on rainbows and flowers when every blooming nerve in your body is screaming at you.

I’ve never experienced fibromyalgia, but I can speak to trigeminal neuralgia, both the electric shock and the slow burn and how difficult it has been to deal with over the years and if it’s any comfort and shrinks the cow a bit, I want to let you know that I’m mostly pain free today. It’s a blessed relief and I say don’t give up hope Tammy. No matter how long it’s lasted, it doesn’t mean it’s there for ever.
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vinma January 6, 2014, 6:24 pm

sorry to hear that Tammy.. I was recently diagnosed with chronic pain too.. but maybe not in this scale.. This interferes with my life and I am not happy about it. But getting used to it is my mission 🙂 Hang in there

Vidya Sury January 6, 2014, 8:07 pm

Tammy, you are a beautiful soul. That’s all I know. And just for the record, I’d read anything you write. Hugs!

The Tumblr blog looks great and I am a bit pissed at you for making me cry…but in a very good way. Pissed I mean. Good way.
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Melissa January 6, 2014, 9:05 pm

Tammy, I know it can be so hard to be in chronic pain. I’ve been in that place before and could hardly think of anything else BUT the pain. Please do not lose faith. It took me years but I found the right path for me and am now free. Keep moving foreword and searching. I think blogging is a beautiful and open way to share how you are feeling. I love how honest you are about your feelings. You are a special woman!

Jessica January 7, 2014, 10:26 am

I look forward to seeing more of your story through your Tumblr. I think it’s amazing and courageous you’re writing about this for the world. Hugs to you! Even if the physical pain never improves, I hope that the words and images you share will do something to keep your heart light.

Andrea January 8, 2014, 6:57 am

I am so sorry, Tammy. Two of my best friends have fibromyalgia and like you, they are pros at hiding their pain. Like you, they just want it gone and want to stop thinking about it and talking about it. Your photos are beautiful and truthful and agonizing and thank you for sharing this part of you with us.
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Cindy Boily January 16, 2014, 10:51 am

Good for you Tammy for thinking outside the box and allowing yourself to find new ways that work for you. Living with chronic pain myself I can appreciate many of the statements mentioned here. Wishing you a wonderful low pain day! 🙂

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