When I Couldn't Escape My Chronic Pain Through Dreaming

Last night, I dreamt of my pain.

I always have rather surreal, vivid dreams, as a result of the medications I take to be able to sleep. But this one didn’t follow the usual archetype. I’m normally able to walk freely, even run. I can do whatever I want to do in whatever world I am in, which can vary from semi-healthy life to a clearly dream-like world, depending on how tired I am before I go to sleep. But last night was different.

Last night was heart-wrenching.

Instead of being able to freely frolic in the city I now call home, I was in my childhood home, which always challenges me when I visit because there are stairs. So many stairs.

I wasn’t able to run up and down those stairs as I once did, and I wasn’t able to go to the kitchen, eat anything I wanted, not having to worry about dietary restrictions. Instead, I was stranded in my bed, unable to move, incapacitated by pain. Every slight movement caused an outburst, which for anyone who knows me knows – I don’t talk much when the pain is really bad.

I was stuck, unable to get up and leave as I used to. My mom would come in and sit with me. Trying desperately to distract me with cooking shows, stories, anything that would halt the pain for just a moment, but it just wouldn’t go way. It lasted for hours that felt like forever, until I finally fell asleep within my dream.

And that is when I woke up in my real-life bed. I woke up with the exact pain that I had felt in my dream, but instead of staying in my bed and calling my brother to come and assist me, I had to get up and start my day. I am a full-time college student with an internship and a job, and people are counting on me.

So, through the agony, I slowly moved to crack all of my joints (as is the morning ritual for many with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, like myself). And now, I must continue my day and my life as though everything attached on my body that is supposed to be strong, slowly loosens and loses stability. It is one of the hardest things anyone can do, subject themselves to pain, just to keep on going. But alas, I do it every single day along with thousands of other people with rare diseases that follow them through their lives at every moment.

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