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Negotiating With My Pain When It's Telling Me to Take Medication

Pain medication, the bane of every chronically ill person who has chronic pain. I see it sitting there on my shelf, placed purposely just out of reach. My pain shrieks for me to take one, my heart breaks a little every time and my head says, “Drink hot tea and grab your heating pad.”

And so the game is on.

OK, I say to all three of my battling companions… give me five minutes. I can go five to 10 minutes longer without pain medication, so give me some slack. I brew my tea and add a little honey while my heating pad whirs to life on my couch. The tea is brewed and I schlepp my body to the couch. Twenty-five minutes have passed… I may win this one yet, I smugly think. Out of the blue, my pain grabs me and twists itself around my body like an grapevine on steroids, it takes my breath away… now the bargaining begins…

If I turn this way, turn up the heat on my heating pad, take a hot bath, have another cup of tea… will you, dear pain, please relent? If I just don’t look at you, acknowledge you and go on, can we salvage this day? The pain is a tough negotiator with an open mind like a rusted shut metal gate. It doesn’t budge, it doesn’t care. My body is now pink and glowing from the warmth of a very hot bath, scrubbed clean and ready for my next tactical move on the pain. I shall meditate you away, oh wretched pain. So I sit and all I can think of is the damn pain that is now gnashing its teeth in protest…

I know I’m losing this battle for today. The pain is relentless, deep within and unyielding. This pain is too big for me today, my heart knows it and finally, my stubborn “I can do it alone” head finally acquiesces but we all agree, “Only for today.” I take a pain pill and it works, but I know it’s the pill, not me, that’s relieving my pain. I hate that and don’t hate anything. It’s a double-edged sword; yes it helps, but it’s only a necessary bandaid to the real issues, which for today, has no cure.

As the day marches on and my pain lessens I know there will be others days like this but there will also be pain-free days. Those of us who have chronic illness and pain truly understand the exhilaration of a no-pain day… it’s like getting an extra week paid vacation or getting that perfect scorch on your marshmallow along with fresh crispy soft graham crackers when making s’mores; needless to say, it’s fabulous! It’s a day with 15 spoons, big goofy grins and getting stuff done. The trick here is to savor the day and to not fall too hard when the pain comes again…because it will. And you will be at the negotiating table again. Maybe the pain medication will walk away the loser and you make it through the day on your own grit. But if not, don’t worry, it’s there for you as ordered to help you.

When I lose my battle for the day and need to use my pain meds, I  try to see it as a tool in my toolkit. No need to give it any more importance than just that… for that day. Remember it is truly one hour at a time, one day at a time. Until there’s a cure for a Crohn’s disease, I’ll keep learning new ways to win at the negotiating table.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images