Thursday, August 22, 2013

Defying Pain

About three weeks ago I got a tattoo. I know, I'll never get a real job, or become a Japanese businessman. I'm sure I'll regret it forever, and I'll never land a decent man.

And I don't care. (For the record, I already have a decent...nay...AWESOME man, a good job, and I'm pretty sure I don't meet a lot of pre-requisites required for becoming a Japanese businessman, not the least of which is lack of equipment.)

I have been planning this for a long time. My husband actually helped me design it. I wanted a word that when I looked at it, it reminded me who I am. I wanted something that would uplift my spirit and be very meaningful to me. I also wanted it to be beautiful. We spent most of our trip to San Diego in late July discussing what word to use. One we both really liked was, "unbreakable" however I wanted it to be big enough so that if someone wondered what it said, they didn't have to get into my bubble. I also didn't want it going up my arm, into my armpit, and down my side. Again, bubble time. So we threw around a lot of words. I didn't want strength, or peace, or fortitude, or supercalifragileisticexpealidocious. I wanted something that defined me, but also gave me strength. I am a strong person, but not always and I don't WANT to always be strong. In fact, I feel that times of weakness are times I learn to be strong. I just felt that, for me, it was a little black and white.

Finally Roy blurted out the word, "Defy!" That was it. We both knew it. It was me to a T! The word has a number of meanings to me. In 2003 I had a Whipple Procedure that saved my life. I defied death through the blessing of early detection through an unrelated CT scan that found a pre-cancerous tumor in my pancreas. I defied the odds by keeping my 100 pounds of weight off that I lost in 2002, through two major health crises. I have always been the type of person that if you tell me I can't do it, I will show you 100 ways that I can to defy you. Don't get me wrong, I am not a "defiant" person in a negative way, but I defy the odds. 

I looked at my arm today as I was driving to meet a fitness client for a workout. My head was hurting and I thought to myself, "I hope I can handle this" and as I turned, my tattoo came into sight. I immediately thought "Defy the pain!" I set my jaw and thought "Bite me, pain!" and I drove on.

Now did that make the pain go away? No. But as a marathon runner I know that my determined spirit can defy pain to continue on to the finish line. 

I am sure to some people this sounds trite, to others silly, and to fellow chronic pain sufferers, ridiculous. That doesn't matter. What matters is how it sounds to me. No, I can't always defy the pain. Monday I spent all day in bed with two pairs of sunglasses and a hood over my head, crying with pain. Nothing helped. There was no defying it that day. But at the same time I can't let every day be, as my friends in the UK say, "A duvet day." I can't let fear of more pain keep me from doing what I want to do. I can't let depression from pain keep me from enjoying my life. Sometimes I just need to remember that I CAN push through things sometimes. If I can't, at least I can try. After all, I don't know how far I can go unless I test how far I can go. 

The y on the word is the flight trail of a dragonfly on the front of my arm. The dragonfly has a special meaning to me for a number of personal reasons. In general, the dragonfly holds great symbolic meaning:

  • Change and transformation
  • Adaptability
  • Joy, lightness of being
  • Symbol of the realm of emotions, invitation to dive deeper into your feeling
  • Being on the lookout for illusions and deceits, whether are external or personal
  • Connection with nature’s spirits, fairies realms

Defying the Pain!

It may not be for everyone, a tattoo, but for me the symbolism is comforting. The fact that Roy came up with the word and designed it for me touches me so deeply because he is not really a fan of tattoos. I love the size because it can be seen easily and there is no hiding it. I think that the reason I wanted that is that my chronic condition is "hidden" and no one who doesn't know me can see it. It makes it even more of a challenge because there are times when I hurt so bad I have vertigo and am not able to walk without being near a wall. It makes me worry that someone might think I'm drunk, or due to the fact that I run a lot, am faking it. I think I wanted something that showed. 

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