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.
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.
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.
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.
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.