Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Threshold: Also called limen. Psychology, Physiology . the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect: the threshold of consciousness; a low threshold of pain.

People often speak about having either a low or high pain threshold. I think that’s a difficult thing to quantify! My own threshold is the point at which it becomes unbearable, the point at which I break.

I’m often told that I’m brave. I don’t really feel it! Chronic illness doesn’t give you many choices. You just have to make the best of a bad situation, to find and hold onto the good and beautiful things in life.

Some years ago I made a series of self portraits when I was in a lot of pain, both physical and emotional. My Crohn’s disease had recently spread and was causing a very rare set of symptoms. I was in such agony and was having real difficulty in getting the right medical support and treatment.

It’s taken five years to finally get the complete diagnosis and a treatment plan that keeps the symptoms somewhat under control. I have Ano-genital Crohn’s with secondary psoriasis. There are only thirty cases, that know of, being treated by the specialist hospitals in London and the South East. At times I feel very isolated.

My pain threshold has been breached on far too many occasions! Thankfully the latest steroid cream has kept the wounds at a minimum and it’s been about sixth months since I last had to use any morphine.

All this is in addition to my general levels of pain from Crohn’s and Fibromyalgia. Every day feels like I’ve just been in a car crash! I couldn’t really tell you how I cope, I just don’t have any other choice.

So I just wanted to say to people that everyone has a breaking point! No one should feel like they have to put on a brave face all the time. It’s not a competition as to who can hold out the longest. If you know someone with chronic illness, let them be vulnerable, accept that their pain is real and sometimes uncontrollable. Just be there for them when you can.

16 comments on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

  1. A very personal and yes, brave, post Sarah. I hope that improvements continue to be made in the treatment of this horrible disease. And although there is nothing I can do to take away the pain and fear you must face every day of your life, I hope you take some comfort from the joy you give to all your followers with your beautiful photography and art work. Including the above – an extremely emotional image that speaks volumes.

    • Thank you Jude! There always has to be someone who will say “this is my disease and I’m not afraid to talk about it”. There’s a lot more awareness of Crohn’s and fibromyalgia but no one ever talks about the more rare and perhaps “socially unacceptable” chronic illnesses. They’re hidden and hard for people to comprehend. I’m not the sort to moan about it all on a daily basis! That never achieves anything. Mostly I want to focus on all the good things in life and share my passions through my work! There’s much that I take comfort and joy in, family, friends, cats, nature, photography and art ๐Ÿ™‚ I love seeing everyone else’s work on here too and getting so much inspiration! And tomorrow I’m going to Wisley with my best friend ๐Ÿ˜€ xxx

      • My brother died from MS at the age of 62. When he was first diagnosed and still able to get around people often thought he was drunk as his speech was slurred and his balance unsteady. He found it quite amusing how people jump to conclusions. Sadly he deteriorated very quickly, but ALWAYS kept his amazing sense of humour. Once when hospitalised there was a sign above his bed “Null by mouth” – he grinned and said “thank god for that!”

        Enjoy Wisley – lots of blossom photos ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m sorry for your loss Jude! It’s been very hard for my loved ones to watch me go through things over the years. I have some very close and special friends and family members who also have Crohn’s and other chronic illnesses and I always feel utterly helpless when they are having bad flare-ups or other complications. If only magic wands were real! In many ways it’s easier to be the patient rather than the loved-one. Pretty much all the people I know with chronic illness have a wicked sense of humour! I think it’s one of the things that helps up through the tough times. Last year I had an operation on an abscess and when the anaesthetist was going through the check list and asked me if I knew what the procedure was, I replied “Yes, they’re getting rid of the pain in my arse!”. Sadly the anaesthetist did not have a sense of humour ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

        Yes, blossoms and magnolia galore tomorrow as well as baby Nate’s first visit to Wisley ๐Ÿ™‚ His mum, Rachel, and I have been going there for years and we can’t wait to share it’s magic with him!

  2. Yes, a brave post indeed. I love how despite it all, you focus on and capture the beautiful things in life and you do it so incredibly well! This image is so very powerful, Sarah and though I certainly hate to see you in pain, I think this is one of your best images ever…such raw emotion here.

    • Thank you Susan! I’ve always been passionate about the natural world so I guess I’m just still being true to myself ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not always easy for me to look at these photos of myself. They feel raw to me. I really hope I can get the same powers of emotion and story-telling across in other portraits I’m planning for this year!

  3. Speaking as someone who has a laundry list of health issues – one of them being fibromyalgia- I can totally relate to this post. I admire your strength and honesty about your health. It’s not easy to talk about stuff like this let alone deal with and accept it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It’s never just one health issue I know!!! I think one of the most frustrating things about chronic illness is the fatigue. It’s so hard to plan things when you just don’t know what lays in store for you health wise! We’re also in pain all the time and people find it hard to understand that. For someone who is healthy and pulls a muscle they often wince with pain a lot until the injury heals. We tend not to visibly express the pain we’re feeling unless we have a big flare up. Thanks for reading Jackie and sharing your problems! I hope you’re as well as you can be right now. Stay strong! xxx

      • The fatigue is awful and yes it is hard to plan things. As you well know, it’s not just being tired where sleep will refresh you. It’s like mind numbingly tired where you can’t even think. And it goes on for days. The pain too is very hard to deal with – it’s everywhere! Trying to explain that to a doctor is really depressing. It took years for me to get diagnosed properly. Your lucky your doc prescribed morphine. My doctor is really against prescribing any sort of pain meds cause to him it only means you will get addicted. He reluctantly prescribe a small amount but it was not without a fight. Quality if life means nothing it seems. I can’t take any of the meds they prescribe for fibro so I’m stuck having to grin and bear it most of the time. I’m currently looking for a new doctor who will understand what it is like to be crippled with pain 24/7. But it’s a task easier said than done. You have to keep going – giving up is not an option to me. Anyway, I always enjoy your blog. You take care and stay strong too – thanks for letting me spout off a bit. xxx

      • Exactly! Fatigue is not the same thing as being tired. I would hazard a guess that you have pretty vivid dreams/nightmares? It’s well known that people with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue/pain conditions have sleep issues. There are many levels of sleep and we spend more time in REM or dream sleep and not enough time in deep, restorative sleep. The morphine was for the Crohn’s. When the vulval disease flares up I get open fissure wounds and inflammation. It’s horrid ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Most weeks I have some open wounds but the steroid cream I now have does mean they’re not as severe. Many opiates are not actually that effective for fibro. I take pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (SNRI), paracetamol, nefopam and clonazepam daily. If I have a flare-up I take tramadol and diazepam. And that’s just for the fibro!! I always enjoy your blog too Jackie ๐Ÿ™‚ Finding the beautiful things in life and sharing them with others is a great way to stay strong and positive! Take care and good luck with the docs xxx

  4. Thanks, for writing about your very personal and intimate situation. I know a bit about Morbus Crohn, because the son of my wife’s cousin also has this disease. I wish you very much (mental) power to stand it.
    I recently read about a woman in Australia. She’s suffering from cancer. She already lost host breasts, her uterus and here ovaries. She made a few photos of her body vested only by her panties. Thus, you were able to see all of her scars. Cruel. But, her own statement on this is: As long as you have scars, they confirm, that you are living. What a brave statement!
    And that’s what I want to give you, too: As long as you feel the pain, you are living!

    • Oh she’s absolutely right! I’ve made a number of self portraits with my stoma and abdominal scars showing. They’re photomontages with all sorts of other imagery in them. The main focus in the images is really the beautiful nature I have surrounded myself with! I derive much strength from the natural world and my work even though it often causes me a lot of physical pain. I’m lucky to be alive and blessed to have the support I need that enables me to carry on with my photography ๐Ÿ™‚ My partner, Simon, is an absolute star! He’s so supportive and proud of my work so he takes care of just about everything at home. Thank you for your words of support! Everyone on WordPress have been really encouraging ๐Ÿ™‚

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