Profiles in Pain is a periodic guest column on the Tumor Blues Blog that highlights how individuals deal with pain and how it impacts the course of their lives.
I met Kelly Goodman at a black box theater in Los Angeles, but I knew her before we had been introduced. And I was in awe. The woman has so much talent and boy does she make it look effortless. Improv is what started our friendship but over the years we have built a long-lasting bond and I continue to appreciate her warmth, caring and wise counsel. And she always brings the funny.
You can check out her amazing sense of humor and razor-sharp wit every week by subscribing to the pop-culture/current events web-series And Another thing with Darci & Kelly.
I have to face it…it is time for me to come out. Hello…my name is Kelly and I am an arthritic with severe spinal disc disease and non-diabetic neuropathy pain in both feet and ankles. I am one of millions of chronic pain sufferers who live among you. I suppose it is time to lay myself bare…and let you know…I AM IN PAIN.
A few days ago, I was sitting in a meeting with my boss… going over some notes for an upcoming event I am spearheading. All of the sudden, I lost my train of thought…I mean my head went blank. Like in one of those scenes from a movie when it freezes and the star is suddenly on a beach having an umbrella drink served to her by a scantily clad man…only there was nothing…no beach, no drink…just a blank page. Luckily after not too long…I snapped to and saw my boss looking at me like I had a unicorn horn growing out of my head. I apologized, said something like “sorry, I think I need more caffeine”…we both laughed and moved on to another topic.
In reality…I spaced out because an hour earlier…I was in so much pain, I had to take some pretty heavy pain meds. Usually, during the day…I can get by on the minimum of what I am supposed to take. I also tend to cut way back on my pain meds when I perform…I don’t want to risk going blank on stage. But, at times when the pain is so excruciating, I have no choice but to actually take my pills. As anyone who lives with chronic pain knows…we are always trying to balance being able to function and taking our prescribed pain meds. I also know I am one of the lucky ones…I can still work, do theatre and have a reasonable social life. I know there are those that are not so lucky and I never take that for granted.
Just to clarify…I am on a comprehensive and closely monitored pain regimen under the care of a pain management team at UCLA. That being said, if I were to take all of my prescribed medications on a daily basis…I would be a blithering idiot in the corner sucking on my thumb. So, I cut back…I take less…I try to make it a few more hours till I get home. People are often surprised when they realize that I live with this pain all the time. If they find out, usually they say things like “you hide it so well”…”why didn’t you say anything?” But, really…I don’t want to be THAT person all the time. The one who has to say no to going out for a drink after a show…because I am not sure I can get in and out of my car once more without taking a muscle relaxer…I don’t want to tell the new, cute guy I am dating that I don’t want to go to that certain restaurant because there are so many stairs and my knees will hurt for a few days if we go there. But, you know what? I should be able to at least some of the time…and starting now, I’m going to…so, if you see me and I say I don’t want to go have a drink with you…know that I REALLY want to, I just can’t…and conversely…when I DO go have that drink…you may have to help me up if the chair is too low! Love and extra spoons to my fellow spoonies!