Living with Chronic Pain

pain ~ [peyn]

noun – 1. physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.

Have you experienced pain recently? Have you stubbed a toe and held your breath, certain that if you’d let it out you’d be screaming obscenities only a trucker would admire?

We all have experienced pain at different times; from bruised shins and paper cuts to kidney stones and child-birth there are varying degrees of pain. In each of these cases the cause of the pain is known and the pain will be resolved when the cause is treated and removed.

This type of pain is called Acute pain, it begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality; it serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body.

Another type of pain is Chronic Pain, this type of pain exists long after the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last months or years; it  is rarely performing a function and can leave a person disabled and unable to fully function or enjoy life. As you can imagine it can leave a person feeling depressed, isolated, angry and hopeless.

Living with chronic pain is difficult to say the least; I’ve been living like this since February 2010 and would never have been able to understand what it can be like if I hadn’t experienced it. It can often feel like being in jail, my instinct as an A Type personality is to seek challenges and conquer them. With this pain, each day is a challenge and not always in a positive way.

There have been days where I just cannot overcome the pain; when the medications don’t seem to ease it and I cannot function. As a mother this is devastating, it’s a blessing having such a supportive husband and friends who will pick up my slack but the grief I feel for my lost abilities can become all-encompassing.

Trying to explain what it’s like living with this pain is difficult, even describing it to medical professionals has felt impossible. I spend so much of my time ignoring the pain, rising above it that these conversations aren’t easy. It’s like facing the huge monster behind you whose shadow you stand in daily. You know it’s there but if you continue walking forwards you won’t have to see it.

Does that make sense?

But as with everything in life, there are times when it’s necessary to face it. Recently I’ve begun seeing a Pain Management Specialist. The first few meetings in his office I stumbled over my words and couldn’t describe my daily situation well. As time has gone on I’ve gotten better at verbalizing the levels of pain with his help. It’s amazing to me how many descriptive words there are for pain! Burning, aching, stabbing….the list goes on…they actually look quite simple when I write them this way but when you’re feeling them 24/7 and they overlap it’s not so clear. I have been truly blessed with a professional who can help me navigate through the waters of my pain.

So it’s a fact, I’ve lived with pain for quite some time and I have naturally become affected by it. The doctor pointed out many signs to me which I’d been unaware of: my exhaustion levels, my hunched-over posture, my avoidance of social activities, interrupted sleep, controlling my environment, my emotional response at the thought of more pain….his list went on and on.

This has been a huge revelation for me.

Through finally understanding the effects of my pain, I am beginning to feel empowered!

The anxiety which has been with me so long seems to be dissipating, I’m not suddenly cured nor is my pain miraculously relieved ….YET. I have hope that it will be, but what is important is that I am beginning to realize all of the factors involved.

This understanding has led to a feeling of strength which is reducing the worry of what I’ll miss out on for the rest of my life. I had been so concerned that I’ll never work again, that I won’t ever be able to lift my children or ride a bike that I had been sapping my own energies.

My goal has always been to get the source of my pain identified and find a way to eliminate it, this has taken a lot of energy and left me with no answers and feeling bereft.

My new goal is to continue to learn to live with the pain I have and keep my spirits up. I can begin this by eating well, exercising when I can, taking my medications exactly as prescribed, continuing with therapies and treatments, communicating with my husband and medical professionals and of course keeping my faith!

Prayer has a funny way of working when my will is given to God.

Today I don’t feel like I’m in jail; yes, my life isn’t the same and the pain is still my companion but that’s all it is. It won’t define who I am, nor will it stop me from activities on good days. I will use the automated functions available online (to be present when I cannot), update my posts using scheduling features and tweeting while lying in my bed.  I will be mindful of my pain levels and respond appropriately but I will do my best to stop living in fear of what may happen!

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6 Responses

  1. I can totally relate to chronic pain and the challenges an A-type personality has. It’s my life. As with all things in life, attitude is everything and a good one helps find ways of coping with and fighting through the daily pain.

  2. Wow, what an insight into how you feel every day…I had no idea! I am so glad you are getting new help from Him and also a pain management specialist, and I will pray for you to move forward into even more acceptance and relief from the pain. You are strong in Him.

  3. I can relate, I injured my back on ice 7 yrs ago and still has pain. I have seen doctors, osteopaths, chiro, massage therapist etc. It did helped. At first I could not sit more than 10 min. I do hot yoga also. That helps. I am on the road to recovery. I have not work for 7 yrs now. I take it one day at the time. Takes time but I am confident that I will be better. I’m wishing you to get better soon for your family.

    1. Hi there Helene, thank you so much for sharing your life with me. I am sorry you’re still experiencing back issue but I’m so happy to hear you’ve improved! I’ll be praying for continued improvements!

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