When I first started this blog, I was angry. I never wrote about it, because I didn’t want to bring people down, but I was sick and tired of trying to explain my health issues to the people in my life, and feeling like they didn’t believe me.
Maybe you can’t see the anger, because you aren’t me. But when I look back and read my earlier posts, I see the it in between the lines, in the way I wrote. How sure I wanted to be of things; how determined I was to prove that things were, in fact, the way I understood them to be.
The funny thing is that now that I’ve taken more and more science classes, my perspective has changed. The more I know, the more there is I realize I don’t know. And the more I’m actually okay with that.
For example, one of the things I’ve written about from time to time is how researchers are beginning to use brain imaging to study chronic pain, and even to develop new treatments for it. This is, of course, super promising research, and I’m really excited about it.
However, one of the first posts I wrote about it, I’ve since had to significantly edit. That original post was about how I hoped that, someday, doctors would be able to use brain imaging to “test” people for pain hypersensitivity, and prove that they had central sensitization. This, I imagined, could be used to validate patients’ disability claims, or prove that they weren’t faking it.
The more and more classes I’ve taken– and I’ve had some really great professors, who went into the ethics of research– I’ve come to realize why using brain imaging as some sort of test wouldn’t be ethical. The body is too complex; our testing too imperfect, to allow it to be used to potentially deny someone treatment. People with legitimate pain could still fall through the cracks. That’s why these brain scans should probably only be used for research and developing treatment.
That’s just one example of how my perspective has changed– knowing that we may never have a definitive way of proving who is in pain or not. I’m more comfortable with uncertainty now, because I’ve learned so much more.
I have a much better sense of where we stand now with scientific research and where we are going. I’ve also made a lot of changes in terms of the people I choose to have in my life.
So from where I stand now, the idea of not being able to “prove” myself is no longer one of my biggest fears.
Something I’m learning is that you can learn a lot about people by looking at what they choose to emphasize.
For example, I once had a roommate who’d been bullied for being overweight as a child. Of course, as an adult, this person was obsessed with hair and makeup, and never left the house, even to make a quick run to the store, without making sure she’d done her full beauty routine.
And maybe it was the same with me– in my anger, I needed to formulate some sort of certainty about central sensitization and chronic pain, because it gave me a sense of the stability that I was lacking. Maybe that’s why the idea of a “test” appealed to me– it offered what I wished I could provide to the people in my own life: unequivocal proof.
Of course, I still believe in learning about central sensitization. No question; that is what has most empowered me. Knowing what the problem is, and naming it: to me, that’s the first step on the road to healing.
What I’m really remarking on is the paradox: the more I know, the more I am okay with what I don’t know.
I no longer need to prove anything, so not having all the answers doesn’t scare me anymore.