Trials and Tribulations of Chronic Pain
I have been living with chronic pain for thirty years. I have had some really rough times in those thirty years. One of the struggles that people with chronic pain deal with on a daily basis has to do with those around us. If you have chronic pain, you know without me saying, for those who don’t; Chronic pain is often invisible to those looking at it from the outside. People who live with someone who deals with chronic pain know that it is sometimes difficult to empathize with someone when their illness is unseen. We have an epidemic in America where there are hundreds of thousands of cases of mental illness, ptsd, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, chiari, crones, ms, and a host of “unseen” illnesses, are touching nearly every family across our land.
I wanted to share this because recently an acquaintance said, “I forget that you deal with chronic pain, you hide it so well.” The fact is, we don’t like to keep repeating our woes, our pains, our suffering. It drives us crazy to have to keep saying, “I can’t today, I’m in too much pain” or “my back and hips are out” or “my entire body has turned against me today and I can’t” or, or, or.
I will use myself as an example. I believe in the law of attraction, so if we keep saying how much pain we are in; we tend to get more pain. I don’t like to complain. I don’t want pity, I just want to be normal, whatever that means, but just to get through a day, a full day, NOT having to hurt all over. I mean, sometimes my very hair hurts. I know that might sound unbelievable to someone who hasn’t experienced it but, those who live with it know. It’s like, when you know, you know.
So, we learn to say other things like, “oh, I wish I could, I just ate”, “I’m booked up today”, or “I have an appointment”, or ANYTHING other than having to say that pain has stolen my day and I can’t do anything about it. I don't know about you, but I hate admitting that pain has stolen my day.
There have been times in my life that I had good years, months, weeks, days, and then on the flip side of that is real life….my life. I learned over decades, how to live with the pain. To acknowledge it, but to keep moving forward, even if I do it in pain. Until I can't. Like so many who live in chronic pain, we just want to have many more days without pain, than with. And not having to take opioid, or other drugs with severe side effects, I don't think that is too much to ask for, do you?
When I broke my ankle 5 months ago, I had a barrage of pain. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I was so over run with pain that I took the prescribed, strong medications to get me through it. However, there was a moment where I wanted off of the meds because they were causing me all kinds of other physical issues; side effects. I slowly weaned off of them.
That was when the reality of the pain, a pain so intense that my thirty years of chronic pain, had nothing on this pain. It took everything in me, not to go back to the pain meds, but, I didn’t. I didn't want to become another statistic of the opioid epidemic--which is where many of people have lost their battle of chronic pain and now battle their prescription drug addiction.
I am still in Physical therapy which is causing another level of pain. As is walking, even now. My point of sharing this is that the pain, this new pain, was new. I had to learn all over again, what was a normal pain, as in, is this a pain I need to call the doctor about? Or is this the new normal? Is this a pain that I will live with permanently or will it eventually subside?
When I ask, the doctors say, more than likely your limp will go away as healing continues, and the pain, well, that is going to be a bit trickier since you don’t want to take pain or nerve medication. Disappointing and not reassuring at all.
So, I’m still trying to find my new normal. Breaking my ankle was the reminder that I HAD learned to manage my pain, fairly well with a constant schedule of sit a while, stand a while, and lay down a while, I was managing. Now, not so much. I’ve learned that when I have to get out of that routine then I have a flare. Like going somewhere, they don’t have seating that accommodates my back and hip issues, or having to sit or stand for what my body views as extended times, something as simple as that can take me out. A couple weeks ago I went to an event where I was on my feet a lot and sat in folding chairs, need I say more? Well, I’ve been dealing with a flare of pain since then. So much so, that I am gritting my teeth and tearing up and I want more than anything to just stay in bed, but the pain of laying starts to feel like your bruises have bruises.
I am doing something today, to help with my own pain, and that is admitting that I am in pain, severe pain, but I’m still doing what I can to keep moving forward. Again, even if at a turtle’s pace.
This is the reality of so many of my brothers and sisters who live in chronic pain, the silent stealer of joy, peace, and pain free days. I want you to know that I see you. I see that you are doing the best you can. I hear you and I hear your sadness. Every day that passes, I hold space for others who deal with hidden illnesses. I send out love and light for this group that seem too often go unseen. You are in my heart.
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