Changing my world, one step at a time

Monday, March 13, 2017

Living with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is unlike any other medical issue….it can’t be seen or measured (except subjectively) and there’s no one way to “make it better”. These complicated factors make it really difficult to communicate to others what you’re going through. Unlike other illnesses most people don’t understand chronic pain and its effects. And unless they’ve been through it themselves, those that think they do know are sometimes misinformed and often judgmental.

Living most of the day in chronic pain and exhaustion makes me not a lot of fun to be around sometimes. Trust me when I say, that I don’t want to be this way! I still want to enjoy my life. I wish I could do all the things that others do. I wish that I could just get up and get things done. But my life isn’t like that. There are days where the pain is so severe that I either end up spending most of the day crying and cringing or medicated to cope with it but too zoned out to function. If I’m having a good day, chances are that I will push myself to make up for what I’ve missed out on and pay for it later. It’s hard not to be depressed when it seems like the rest of the world is moving forward, making plans and living their dreams. I have been dealing with this for years. I try really hard to be happy within my own unique circumstances. It doesn’t mean that I’m not in pain or exhausted or am “getting better”. It means that I’m happy despite these things. The chronic pain is still there.

People tend to get upset when I say no to going shopping or going out for dinner or going for a walk. If standing for 5 minutes is exhausting and pain inducing there’s no way I can spend 2 hours walking around a mall. If I can’t sit without a heating pad how can I enjoy dinner? If pain kept me up all night I’m not going to be very sociable. I find myself making plans, then forcing myself to physically and emotionally go through with them so as not to disappoint others. Because people have a really hard time understanding when I have to cancel. One of the most frustrating things about chronic pain is not knowing from day to day how I’m going to feel. And if I go through with those plans anyway? Chances are I will pay later. So, I wish people would understand that and not take it personally if I’m unable to go through with something. I have to take care of myself first. Only I know what it’s like to live in my body. Chronic pain is such a variable thing. What I can do one day becomes impossible the next. This is maddening, I know. But that’s the way it is. If I tell you that I have to sit down or take something for pain, I really mean it. It means my body is screaming at me and I need to take care of it right away.

Chronic pain wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. It’s exhausting and frustrating. Learning to live life while dealing with it is hard. Quite often it just doesn’t get “fixed”. It continues despite a myriad of treatments. People need to understand that it’s real. Living with chronic pain is a lonely thing.

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