For today, I’m going to be talking to those that have chronic pain. My fellow sufferers – this letter is for you.
My vibrant friends,
The pain is not you. You are still you – deep down inside perhaps, but you are still there. When you look back at who you used to be, it is so easy to bemoan how you have changed. Mourn it and then grow from it. You are most likely stronger than you were before -that is a blessing. Perhaps, like me, your faith has gotten stronger and deeper than it used to be. Be willing to grow and learn while you are in this trial – whether it lasts for a few more months, years or the rest of your life. Don’t let bitterness settle in your heart, for then, the pain will really have taken over who you are. But this, this you can fight. Find new ways to stay exactly the wonderful you that you are.
You still have a blessed, wonderful life – it might not/probably doesn’t look like the one you had dreamed of for yourself. But look around you for a second. You have a bed? A couch? Someone to help you out? Food? You are blessed. It’s like counting your blessings when you can’t fall asleep. I know so often the first things that run through my mind when I’ve stopped distracting myself, are all the things that I wish I could have done, or how I miss being able to work or how overly over it I am. Shockingly, those types of thoughts don’t exactly bring the positive attitude that we need to have! Count your blessings whenever you feel your optimism slipping.
Things really could be much worse. I try to remember that no matter how bad my pain gets, it could be much, much worse. While this one is a bit tricky for some of you, and it can be a bit…..what’s the word??? Anyway, I don’t mean that you look at someone around you and say ‘i could be them’ or such and such sort of a thing. I mean more in the sense of realizing that, for my example, while some days I have a really hard time walking just to get to the bathroom or kitchen, there are so many people that can’t even do that. It’s realizing that you are blessed even with the trial you are in.
Don’t stop living – learn that new hobby, read that book, test that recipe. Text or call that person that you’re missing. Binge watch that tv show. Yes, that last suggestion is easier now than it probably ever has been for you (well, at least for me it is!) but holding off on trying new things or doing something you love (and can still sort of do) isn’t good. It makes it all harder, honestly. No, don’t over-extend yourself, but don’t shut yourself up in a dark room constantly. It is the good days, the good moments, that make the pain a little more bearable.
Tell people when you’re in pain. Seriously. Don’t try and be ‘brave’ or ‘strong’ when you feel like the pain is completely consuming you. I’ve been there, done that and it is not worth it. Apparently I need random reminders of just how horrible it is to let each wave of pain crash over you while you suffer in silence. Just say it. “I hurt’ or my seemingly-common phrase these days ‘I think I’m dying’. For honestly, in those moments, I feel like I am. The pain is a swirling, crashing, dizzying thing that blocks anything else from view. By simply stating to someone who cares what’s going on, it can do at least 2 things for you – 1) help you focus on something else, like getting words past your clenched teeth. And 2) they now have the opportunity to help you.
As a follow-up, thank your caregivers as often as possible. It can’t be easy to do everything that needs done, plus help take care of you – even if it’s once a week, or every day. I find that by thanking them, it helps me remember that they truly are blessing me. I also dream and plan of the day when I am healthy again and able to take care of my OH in the way he takes care of me. I cannot wait to be able to keep the house clean and meals ready for us. I can’t wait to be able to mow our lawns (is it weird that i love to do that?) and keep the cars sparkling clean. There are days of course, that dreaming of this isn’t a good idea, but sometimes, it helps thinking that maybe one day I’ll be able to bless him/them right back.
Don’t beat yourself up about having to take prescription pain pills. If you need them, you need them. Take them, but also tell your doctor that you’d love to get back off of them -do your research! Try natural options. I got on prescription pain pills about seven months ago and realized that feeling guilty about taking them was only making the days that much harder. Instead, I decided to be grateful that they helped me get through the day, but also to search for a new doctor that might be able to help me. As a result, I have done a bunch of tests this past month but I am happy to report that we have a better idea of what might be causing these migraines and the other issues I have going on. Inner ear fissure and too high of red blood cells. I’m on the low end of a lot of my blood work. My thyroid is fine, thank goodness, but it doesn’t help figure out the reason for the significant weight gain. Salt has been taken away from me – dont’ laugh but i almost cried when she told me that. Apparently salt can disrupt the balance of fluid in your inner ear – causing vertigo and other problems. Here’s a link I found that explains it well, along with other foods that can be a problem . So, I am cutting out as much processed foods as I can – I am doing this for a month – to see if it helps my digestion problems and even my dizziness.
Chronic pain is certainly not something that can be easily described, understood or lived through. But by sharing with those around us what is going on emotionally and physically, the load can be a little lighter. Be thankful for your life and still live it as well as you can.Be thankful for those that care for you and show that in little ways – texts or phone calls asking how you are, cleaning, cooking, walking your dog, shopping for you, driving you to doctor’s appointments – don’t let any act of kindness go without at least a hug. Find someone who you can gripe to on your bad days and rejoice with on your good ones. Be emotionally present for people, even if you can’t physically be with them. We can still thrive in this life, this one filled with chronic pain – we just have to work harder at it.
I am contemplating starting a group for chronic pain sufferers – ideally migraine and related but I’m not sure if I want to limit it to that only. It is the bud of an idea right now, but it’s one that isn’t going away. It would be a faith-based group where I’d love all kinds of sharing to go on – prayer requests and praises, any helpful tips on easing pain, etc. Basically a place to vent when the pain is consuming and find encouragement and understanding. If you would be interested in such a group, let me know! Knowing that some ladies would want to join might help spur the idea into reality.
While at my doctor’s, I took a picture of the pain scale and thought that I would share it with you. Having a scale to go off of has helped me describe my pain level to my OH and the doctor.
But for now, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that it has encouraged you ,dear heart.