Why I’m Fighting This Fight

I'm writing this while sitting outside on my patio.  I'm enjoying the beautiful weather, the mountain view, a cup of tea, and a few moments of quiet.  My retrievers are napping at my feet, happy to have me home.

Right now, my arm is covered with three large pain patches, which is the maximum number a person can safely wear, or so my doctor tells me.  (Twelve hours on followed by twelve hours off … never to exceed three pain patches at a time.)  

My bionic arm is turned up to the highest frequency it's currently programmed for.  It's a frequency I rarely use because the high frequency, in and of itself, often hurts.  I've already taken prescription strength ibuprofen, a narcotic pain pill, and cocooned my shoulder in heat.

And still …

The pain is breathtaking – awe inspiring really.

I've asked myself, more than once, the question I've recently heard from some of you.

Why am I doing this?

Why am I so determined to live my life behind a lens?

Why am I photographing a season of nonstop baseball games for a local high school?

Why do I do something I know will only cause me substantially more pain?


On Saturday, I was at the baseball field when a visitor stopped by to watch a portion of the game.  The visitor was a woman I knew from the local sports community before my car accident.  I also saw her during the first few months after my accident.  At the time, my life consisted of nothing more than surgery after surgery.  Since then, our lives have moved in different directions.  We've been out of touch for several years.

There she was though, stopping by to catch a few moments of a local high school game.  The first words out of her mouth when she saw me were, "You've got a camera in your hands again!"  She said this with a huge smile on her face, genuinely thrilled to think I'm able to resume this part of my life.  Photography, she knew, was a huge part of my life prior to the accident.

Her words echoed in my mind for the remainder of the day.  Memories rushed back of years, and years, and years of traipsing everywhere with my camera around my neck.  Recollections of the hundreds of baseball games I've attended over the years, all with my camera by my side, also came back to me.

I thought back to the day I received my current camera.  I didn't know if I'd be able to even hold it, but I bought it anyway.  I bought it because I knew if I did, I'd find a way to use it come hell or high water.

For the first time since the accident, I've realized the stubbornness determination which exists inside me.

I've also realized I'm capable of enduring more pain than most people have the ability to even conceive of.  The pain is always there, wanting to stop me in my tracks.  There are moments when it does, but then I forge on.  I do so, not because I'm strong or "inspirational," but because to do otherwise is unthinkable.

I've gained a new perspective on how much I hate being told I'm disabled and/or that I'll never be able to do certain things again.  Since the accident, I have refused to accept the words "can't," "don't," and "never again."  I hear these words.  I listen to them, I acknowledge them, and then I go about my life as if they were never spoken.

There are around one hundred people involved with the team I'll be photographing for the next several months.  Out of all those people, only two are aware there's anything "wrong" with me.  To everyone else, I'm a normal person.  I'm a photographer.  They don't know I'm "disabled."  They don't know the pain I live in, or the increased pain I experience when I use my camera.  

I wear long sleeved shirts to cover my scars and pain patches when I'm in public.  I've learned to use my left arm, and hand, in ways to make my motions seem normal even when they're not.

I'm a fake.  

I'm an impostor. 

And yet, it's a victory of sorts because they don't even know.

I'm fighting, daily, to have a semblance of the life I was "supposed to have" prior to the accident.  

Living my life the way I want to live it causes me increased pain.

But what kind of life would it be if I gave up the things I love?

What kind of life would it be if I let my pain, my injuries, my disability, dictate how I live my life?

And so yes, there are times when the pain is so intense – even I second guess my choices.

But it's a fight worth fighting …

It's the life I was meant to lead.

© Twenty Four At Heart

14 Responses to “Why I’m Fighting This Fight”

  1. unmitigated me

    Frequently, I wish that people didn’t know about my chronic pain. By the time I left the classroom, it was as if I didn’t exist anymore, only my back. Nobody asked how I was. It was always, “How’s your back today?” To which I would frequently lie, because I didn’t want to think or talk about it.
    The pain? It’s just there. Usually 100% of the time, but in varying degrees. You just learn to live with it.

  2. Jan

    *applauding* Suzanne, you don’t have to TRY to be an inspiration.

  3. karen

    I think you either have to surrender the life you want to have and resign yourself to misery, or you do exactly what you’re doing… just DOING. The best you can with what you’ve got, and some days are better than others. I applaud you, too, Suzanne.
    I’m often asked because of my hearing impairment – How do you do it.. You’ve lost the ability to hear good music (which I loved), you can no longer play piano by ear – you have to read lips to get a real conversation going, forget about conversations in a restaurant or moving car – you can’t watch TV or even a movie in the movie theatre without closed caption…”
    The answer is, what’s the alternative? And there are worse things in life. You forge ahead and do what you have to do to make the best of it. Easier said than done, yes…
    … but you are doing it well. Although I’ll tell ya – photographing an entire team and game schedule is sorta nutz. I hope you aren’t offended, but give yourself a smidgen of a break.

  4. Tami

    I agree with Jan and Stephen. You are a huge inspiration to me every day. I’m concerned about you right now though too. I follow you on twitter and it seems like you are having a really bad pain episode from all your camera time. I understand why your doing what your doing, but I’m worried for you. If you keep aggravating a flare up will it ever stop? Can you get a photo caddy to carry the heavy stuff?

  5. Lynne

    I disagree with unmitigated me. As a person with severe, debilitating, chronic pain I know there is pain and then there is PAIN. Millions of people know pain and it’s a terrible thing. Only a few of us know PAIN. You can learn to live with pain but PAIN is a different entity. Thus you’ve struck a chord with me because you are one of the few who understand the fight. Such a long, exhausting, but worthy fight. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for making me know I’m not alone. Thank you for the inspiration (yes you are inspiring) you give me all the time.

  6. Jane

    Wow, Suzanne, you make me cry and uplift me all at the same time. The power of living our lives “in spite of..” is breathtaking.

  7. linda

    (((hugs)))) You rock Suzanne. We all do what we have to do, for better or for worse. I’m proud to know you. You define yourself- pain does not define you. congrats. Just know on those low days when it doesn’t feel inspiring to be you- you have people who love you.

  8. Judi

    I don’t have nearly your pain levels, but have had more than my share of surgeries in the last 5 years so I get where you’re coming from. Every time people at work see me with a cane (again) or something, they feel sorry for me and are “amazed at my positive attitude.” What am I supposed to do, stay home on the couch sucking my thumb? I’m grateful to live in an era when my ailments are fixable (so far, anyway). I am living the life I want to live and I’ll handle the consequences of my actions.

  9. Donna

    Very inspiring… i like your strong character…all is well soon.
    great post to inspired us!


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