The Drawing Board

a journey in chronic pain

Mary Ann Farley

Mary Ann Farley
Hoboken, New Jersey, USA
January 18
In 1999, at the very same time I was diagnosed with a serious blood clotting disorder (Essential Thrombocythemia), I also felt my face explode in a type of pain that no one could explain. After 13 months, I finally learned that it was osteonecrosis of the jaw (also known as NICO), a complication of the blood/bone marrow illness. I've had untold numbers of surgeries during this time, having spent most of it in pain. In 2004, the blood condition caused an internal massive hemmorhage during which I lost 70% of my blood volume, which in turn made the jaw infection much worse. This blog will detail my journey with chronic pain and all of its accompanying complications and emotions. I'll try to be as honest as possible without shooting myself.


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Matthew McConaughey is living large these days in terms of critical acclaim. His HBO television seriesTrue Detective (which he co-produced with co-star Woody Harrelson), and films The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club, are all getting rave reviews, something he says he wa/… Read full post »

I woke up with a strange sense of sadness this morning. I’ve been fighting it for a couple of weeks, but this morning I finally let myself cry about it, although the “it” has been somewhat vague. But that’s not really true. I know what it is…I just haven’t wanted… Read full post »

OCTOBER 1, 2012 11:02PM

The Strength of Melancholia

By complete accident, I stumbled upon Lars von Trier’s end-of-the-world cinematic masterwork Melancholia on cable this week, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’ve certainly been more thrilled by apocalyptic films of this type before, and certainly more moved (as was the case wit… Read full post »
AUGUST 25, 2012 11:05PM

The Perils of Perfectionism

Note: To those who subscribe to this blog, kindly subscribe to my new blog, which is now hosted on my newly redesigned web site. For the next month or so, I'll continue to cross-post here as well.

Something curious this week happened with my music. Frustrated with the MP3/…

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I just heard the sad news about the untimely passing of Donna Summer, the disco queen of the 1970s and early '80s, whose career took off in 1975 after meeting producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, the duo that wrote so many of her hits, such as "Hot Stuff," "I Feel… Read full post »

MARCH 31, 2012 11:24AM

Revenge of the Invisible

Young geniuses are everywhere. This week, New York Magazine announced the arrival a 25-year-old female showrunner for HBO's new show, Girls, with a spectacular cover story. I read the article today, right on the heels of watching Oprah's interview with Lady Gaga, another astonishing 25-year-old who's… Read full post »

MARCH 27, 2012 9:47AM

Pain for Sale

I've been away from my blog for so long because in August, I relaunched my Etsy shop (an online site that sells handmade goods from all over the world), which had been sitting dormant since 2007. And every day since...I kid you not...I've been putting in a good eight hours a… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 1, 2011 12:32PM

Open Call: Occupy America! (My NYC pix)

I took these pictures at the Oct. 5 OWS march to Zuccotti Park in New York. Then my dear friend Dean set them to my song, My Life of Crime, which I wrote about ten years ago when I was so ill but had no health insurance.

I would get tests,Read full post »

OK, I've been waiting to write about this because I didn't know if it was gonna stick. But it has, and so here is the announcement: I quit smoking. As of March 22, 2011, I have been a non-smoker, although I do confess, I have been seen occasionally slipping behind a…

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MAY 28, 2011 4:44PM

I Seem to Have Misplaced My Life

Lady Gaga is everywhere. When I scan the channels there she is--in yet another interview, another video, another performance, another commercial. And I admit, I can't get enough of it.

But while I'm enjoying the ride, there's a lingering malaise that's sitting in the pit of my stomach like an undiges… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 12, 2011 12:42PM

The Weight of Encroaching Ice

I had a strange dream last night in which glaciers were beginning to form all around New York and I could see the ice getting higher and higher, climbing ever closer to my apartment window, which meant that I'd soon be encased in ice. I knew that my car was parked…

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JANUARY 31, 2011 12:35PM

Who is God?

When I first started this blog over two years ago, the biggest issue I grappled with, other than the chronic pain, was whether or not God existed. My suffering was so great that my vision of the world became incredibly narrow, and it seemed that all I saw was suffering all…

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JANUARY 25, 2011 11:47AM

When the Law of Attraction fails

For my birthday last week, my dear friend Janet gave me the book The Power, which is the much-anticipated follow-up to the bestseller The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

Even though I never read The Secret, a number of years ago, Janet and I were big fans of the Law of Attraction (LOA)… Read full post »

JANUARY 18, 2011 10:32AM

You're going to do WHAT?

When the bad days erupt, they can feel like a slow controlled explosion, with each passing hour feeling worse than the one that just came before.

This past week, I’ve been trying to reduce my morphine dose, as I'm seeing a new holistic doctor in New York City, who has put me… Read full post »

JANUARY 9, 2011 1:31PM

The Bust-Out Power of Journalling

I'd forgotten how dazzling, exciting and soothing daily journal writing can be.

After the holidays had ended, I was feeling such a terrible void, which isn't that unusual, I suppose, at this time of year, but the whole season seemed to have a void to it, despite how busy I was.…

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NOVEMBER 30, 2010 6:18PM

The Curious Effect of Vincent D'Onofrio

Fellow OSer Beth Mann made an interesting comment in my last post about my marathon viewing of Law & Order: Criminal Intent during a stretch of bad pain. She said, “If you're going to go for a Law and Order marathon, try not to make it Criminal Intent. Vincent D'Onofrio has a stra/Read full post »
OCTOBER 25, 2010 4:12PM

Another Day in My Pajamas

Make no mistake—no matter how much one thinks he or she has accepted being in a state of chronic pain, the bad days cause reflection on those that were better, before the unacceptable occurred and we were unalterably changed forever. 

And it’s on those days that I realize that at… Read full post »

I recently saw a 2009 interview with the stunningly talented pop sensation Lady Gaga and was aghast, not only because of her genius and creativity, but because this poised, wise, already-an-icon diva is just 23 years old, basically at the beginning stages of her career, with something like 15 million… Read full post »

JULY 27, 2010 10:29AM

Faith, Art and Power Ball

It's been so long since I’ve made an entry. In re-reading my last post, it's inspiring to report that my apparent acceptance of this chronic pain has had a lasting effect, one that has produced a stretch of creativity I haven't had in years.

My new apartment is exploding in colors,…

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MARCH 27, 2010 2:16PM

Slamming My Guilt, With Good Results

I had a big insight.

There I was on Thursday, experiencing one of the worst pain days I've had since this whole ordeal began six years ago. Absolutely nothing I did worked to ease the burning and aching in my face, so I did the only thing that I knew for sure… Read full post »

HELP!!! I'M DYING FOR A CIGARETTE!!! I'm having an operation next week, and in order to not develop complications, I must stop smoking and drinking TODAY. ACK! This is worse than when I got my nose pierced last week! This is worse than that time I screwed up my haircut and… Read full post »

MARCH 13, 2010 1:09PM

X Marks the Spot

I haven’t written since mid-December, which means a whole winter has passed yet again. I haven’t been lazy, though, even though I can so often define myself that way.

My cat became deathly ill in late December to the tune of $3,000, and then a sudden twist of fate (the…

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DECEMBER 17, 2009 2:16PM

This Is It

I've always been the fix-it gal. Since an early age, I thought that if I just said the right thing, did the right thing, talked and walked the right way, then I could control the people around me. Growing up, obviously the first two people I tried to fix were my parents.… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 22, 2009 8:25PM


Today the pain is relentless and over the top. I just got off the phone with my friend Anne and I was sobbing. I said the truth that I've been thinking of for awhile now, which is that I don't want to live this way anymore. It's not that I don't…

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NOVEMBER 15, 2009 11:52AM

Results of My Relativity Experiment

In my last post, I said that if all things really are relative, then the truths I learned about emotional health during my years in therapy should at least have some application to healing my physical state, which is one of chronic pain.

So I decided to do a five-day diet of…

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