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  • Writer's pictureJ.C. Hannigan

Chronically In Pain & Chronically Doing Stuff

I have always been disabled, and I will always be disabled. These are two facts that I've had to come to accept early on in my life.

Another thing I've learned is that a positive mindset is something everyone can benefit from, and a positive mindset becomes crucial when you live with chronic pain or illness.

I have three sisters, and I grew up spending every summer up north at my grandparents cottage on Georgian Bay. My grandparents taught me how to drive snowmobiles when I was in kindergarten (granted, Papa always put a little block of wood beneath the gas peddle so we wouldn't go too fast). They limited some of my activities out of fear and uncertainty over how I would heal should I injure myself (for example; skiing was completely off the table), but they also taught me to embrace my limitations: there was still plenty of things I could do. I could go tubing with my sisters, and I could drive the boat, ATVs, and snowmobiles...

And so, I did.

I've been lucky, growing up with the influence of my grandparents. Two resilient, persistent people who built a life together out of nothing. Both of my grandparents had difficult childhoods, and yet...neither one of them let it define who they were, or taint their warm, loving personalities.

My Granny is kind to everyone she meets, even people who "don't deserve it". In Granny's eyes, everyone deserves kindness; but some people also deserve a stern talking to, and Granny's not afraid to scold, either.

I think that's where I get it from; my inability to bite my tongue when I see injustice happening around me. I'm not sorry for that, either; I will always speak up for what's right.

I'll also continue doing the things that bring me joy, even if they also bring me additional levels of pain.

I think it's important, to strive to do the things that bring us happiness. Camping, being outside, trying new things like kayaking; all of that brings me joy, so I'm happy to pay the price of a few additional days in bed.

Like I said, the memories that accompany the bruises make it worth the pain. I can honestly say that I don't let my disability hold me back, and I'm trying to teach my boys not to let it hold them back, either. If they want to try something new, I'm all for it. I don't want my boys to be afraid to live and experience things.

One thing they won't catch me saying anymore (because believe me; I was guilty of saying this a lot growing up) is "I can't do it!" without at least trying first. There's a long list of things I can't do, and some of the things on that list are frustratingly simple, like "using a can opener". But there's a long list of things I can do, and I will always choose the can-do attitude over the can-don't.

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