My name is J.C. Hannigan. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, an author, and a million other things. I wear my many caps and get through each day with sheer determination, stubbornness and a side of sarcasm. Oh, and with words. I am a chronic pain survivor. I am by no means “healed” of my chronic pain: but I survive and thrive despite my chronic pain disorder, and so do you. We are chronic pain survivors.
I’ve always loved writing; I’ve always found it therapeutic. With writing, I could truly explain myself to others in ways the spoken language fails. I would try to explain how I felt, but any time I voiced the words aloud, people felt it necessary to interrupt with “helpful” comments like “it’s not that bad! It could always be worse!” and “at least it isn’t a deadly disease!”
These comments did little to soothe the sharp edges of sadness and blow away the fog that rolls in with chronic pain – those comments just made me feel like I couldn’t truly express myself by speaking, because someone would always try and correct my words or change the course of the dialogue.
Yes, there are worse diseases, deadly diseases. Yes, I’m lucky that this particular chronic pain illness will not cut my life short: but it does change my quality of life. By talking about my experiences, my reactions, and my disability in general – I am not complaining, I am seeking out understanding and empathy. Not all disabilities are visibly marked with walking aids and other medical equipment. Not all scars are visible upon first glance.
Naturally, if you converse verbally with a group of people, or even one individual – they are going to respond to your comments. That’s the dialogue of the spoken language, but the dialogue of the written language is different. It allows you a moment to reflect upon what you’ve written, if it hits close to what you wished to express. Words are art; like painting. You look at the canvas and see if the image created was the image you envisioned in your mind. With the easy flow of the written word, I can get people to connect and relate to the things that I write.
I found that by writing about my experiences and my feelings, I was able to get the thought out, let the prose for this discussion flow in the way I intended it. I was shocked to find that not only did writing about my disability and my experiences improve the way I feel about myself, but my words were reaching out to others in the MHE community. My words were helping many other people with this disability express themselves to their family and friends. My words were filling the silence created by the lack of education and conversation.
If you’re here, you’re here because you or someone you love has MHE. Maybe you’ve never truly been able to explain what it’s like to your friends and family, or maybe you just want a better understanding of what it’s like living with MHE. You’ve definitely come to the right place! This blog is going to be a collection of stories and experiences pertaining to our mutual common ground: Multiple Hereditary Exostoses.