My thoughts on chronic pain

This is completely lifted from this post of mine with very few edits… but honestly, I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

yeah...

yeah…

Anyway, I tried to describe what chronic pain feels like to the hubs the other day, and this was the best I could come up with:  Dealing with chronic pain is like having a pebble in your shoe.  At first it’s a minor irritant. It doesn’t hurt too much; it’s just annoying. But imagine always having that pebble in your shoe. You can’t ignore it.  Oh, you can try.  You can walk through the pain for a while, but when something digs into your foot for miles and miles, eventually, you will acknowledge that pain.  You may start to limp, or you might sit down, or move your foot around and try to dislodge the pebble, but eventually you will do something to assuage that pain. I don’t care how big or small that pebble is, it will remind you of its existence.

That's kinda true...

Now imagine never being able to take that shoe off. Let’s say you start to limp because of the pain. Now the pressure is on the other leg to take the load of your entire body. You’ve shifted everything in your life to accommodate that little pebble.  Let’s say you move your foot around and ahhhhh the pain is gone. Don’t fool yourself. It’s a temporary relief. The pebble is still in your shoe, and so long as you keep on walking (and let’s face it, no one is going to walk for you), it will find its way back to your foot. And it will start hurting again.  Or let’s say you sit down. Again, it’s a temporary relief, because you will have to start walking again. To stop moving is to stop living. In my humble opinion.

It never does

It never does

And it will get to the point that even when you sit down you’re reminded of that pebble by the throbbing in your foot where you’ve walked on it all this time.  You can’t take that shoe off. Ever. That little pebble will eventually overtake your life because it is always there.  You’ll dread getting out of bed because you know as soon as you put your foot on the ground, that pebble will be right there, waiting for you to step on it, and there’s nothing you can do to make it go away. But it’s just a little pebble, right? Nothing big.  It can’t hurt that much. I double dog dare anyone who’s never dealt with chronic pain to put a pebble in their shoe and walk around for a week with it. See how it feels. Then imagine dealing with a pebble, a tack, a nail, in your shoe day after day, year after year and see if you don’t become mentally and physically exhausted, and irritable.  But try telling someone you’re exhausted and grumpy because you have a pebble in your shoe and you can’t get rid of it. Imagine that scenario. That’s what living with an invisible, chronic illness is like. Well, as close as I can come to describe it.

Me!

Me! (my son drew this!)

I have several issues that cause me pain… I don’t think I’ve had a completely pain free day in years. I mean years.  I have had days where the pain is nearly non-existent —  where the pebble has moved to the side of my shoe so I can walk without limping, but it’s still there.  And sometimes that pebble hits the most tender spots and puts in a lot of pain for quite some time. Since I can’t take pain killers, there’s nothing I can do to stop that pain. But I’m not asking for pity or sympathy.  I just wanted to explain why I get grumpy and irritable sometimes. And I want to apologize to you, dear reader, because you sometimes have to listen to me grump about minor things.  And, I want to thank y’all for putting up with it. I’m not saying that I’ll never do it again, I’ve just become aware of it and will try not to rage out on my blog (or facebook) as much as I sometimes have been prone to do.

13 thoughts on “My thoughts on chronic pain

  1. I have epilepsy and due to the medications I am on to control seizures, I cannot take any pain meds other than ibuprofen – every once in a while. I have painful migraines at least 4 days/nights a week and when it is bad enough, I get all grumpy, too. I end up apologizing a lot. My point is that I understand what it is to live with that kind of pain. You hit that nail right on the head.

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    • Migraines suck rocks. Of all of the pains I have, migraines are the one thing I cannot deal well with. Luckily the meds for my bipolar, and a drastic change in my diet many years ago, plus divorcing my first husband, cut mine from almost daily to about four or five times a month. If I get too stressed I’ll get them more often, but luckily, I am at a point in my life where I’m not too stressed (knock on wood). I hear ya about the migraines.

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  2. Coming here from mefi, I read one of the resources you linked to on “chest wall pain”, and it was very helpful. Thank-you. The doctors that I’ve talked to about it were dismissive without explanation. In their defense, most patients are not very detail oriented, and many of the detail oriented ones are obsessive and dysfunctional. Throttling detail saves both time and trouble, but this adaptation doesn’t serve patients who are merely analytic.

    I have found ways to think about chronic pain that are very bad. I recognize one of them in something you said: “You can’t take that shoe off. Ever. That little pebble will eventually overtake your life because it is always there.”

    That thought makes me weep with sorrow and regret, and compounds my suffering. I’ve found ways to make it better, the first being simple avoidance: I don’t go there. When I go there anyway, Plan B is این نیز بگذرد‎, (“this too will pass”). I think of times when it felt worse, and when it wasn’t as serious. It still hurts, dammit, but I suffer less when I’m not trying to gulp down the whole future of pain.

    As Billy the Bard said “.. there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Nothing will make chronic pain “good”, but thinking can make it less bad.

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    • As one of the little pictures up there says, “The pain never goes away, you just make room for it.” So I’ve learned to work around the pain rather than let it overwhelm me always. There are days… like the past few days… when it does overwhelm me and I can’t do much of anything. And it’s during those days when I use your saying, “This too shall pass.” Because the bad days don’t last forever, and it’s helpful to know that.

      I’m glad you found one of my resources helpful. Sorry you needed it, but glad it was helpful.

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  3. I popped over from the snail of happiness when I saw you are from the Pacific Northwest. I’m in Portland. My son moved in with me from California because they sent all his work to India. He’s been here 4 months now and there is no work. He’s trying to create something. I understand about the pain. Daughter has Fibro and carries a clothespin in her purse. She tells people to put it on their finger and leave it all day. They usually last just moments. Chronic pain is exhausting, physically and mentally. I wish you all the best and hubby too.

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    • We moved to Seattle from New Mexico because the hubs lost his job. So far, so good with him finding contract work. Me? I can hardly clean my house, let alone even think about holding down a full time job like I used to. >_> Hope things get better for your son.

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  4. I know what you mean, this pebble is aggravating. BTW very good explanation. I am trying to control mine lately with food intake and juicing. Interesting enough it seems to work. I am not pain free, but it’s bearable. But I have to disciplined 24/7 and just slipping a little bit throws me in a rollercoaster. Like today, had to have an easter bunny and feel it in my bones already. Sometimes I just lay there in the morning, not really awake and my first thought is “lets see what hurts today”. No fun indeed, but it could be worse. Sorry for the novel

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    • I do the same thing in the morning… ^_^ And yeah, I totally have to watch what I eat too. Right now I’m on a bland diet to calm my digestive system down. That’s a load of fun, let me tell you (not).

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      • I know. I watched “fat, sick and nearly dying” (appealing title) didn’t want to but my best friend made me. Eyeopener, I juiced for 2 weeks and felt like, well almost normal. I will look into the Gaps diet, mainly because it makes just so much sense. Sorry for venting

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