What Jigsaw Puzzles Teach Me About Life With Chronic Back Pain

Imagine your life as a jigsaw puzzle…

The information on the puzzle box is incredibly limited. It does not tell you how many pieces are inside. The photo on the outside of the box is just blue sky, scattered with soft-focused clouds. As you look at the photo on the box, you mutter, “This is going to be so difficult to put together.” Every puzzle piece looks identical in color. The theory, in any time you put together a puzzle, is that the puzzle will look exactly like the photo on the outside of the box. Your hands steadily open the box of the puzzle-of-life and remove the lid to see the contents. Much to your surprise, there are pieces of varying colors and of strange images, not all blue sky as you assumed.

My strategy, in putting together a puzzle, is to search out and place all the straight edges and corners to build the framework first. The beautiful blue frame stares back at you with the promise of many days yet to come. Your logical brain knows that life isn’t always going to be blue skies, it is a certainty that there may be clouds, maybe even a storm or two. As you fill in the pieces, you uncover a piece with an image of children. That’s pretty cool – you’re not sure where they fit in, but it makes you smile. As you stir through the pieces, you discover an image of a lovely garden; again, you’re not sure where it fits, but it’s pleasing nonetheless.

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