Holding Onto Hope Through the Battle With Chronic Pain

When I close my eyes I envision a vibrant, fair-skinned 26-year-old woman. A woman with blonde hair, sparkly bright blue eyes and an unforgettable, warm, beaming smile. She is dressed in a colorful dress. She is loved by all, always smiling and has this tremendous ability to fight adversity.

When I open my eyes I see a pale-faced 26-year-old. A woman who has battled and fought for survival since the tender age of 3. Her eyes are red and puffy from the tears that won’t stop falling. Her eyes are closed off to the world, closed tight to hide the pain. Her once prominent smile has dissolved into gritted teeth. Her breath is shallow and fast. Her face round and puffy from the increase of Prednisone. Her hands shake and her heart races as she looks down at her once functioning body. She struggles to straighten her hands. The sight of her finger joints being stretched and pulled out of place from years of horrible pain. Fingers that should be straight are bent at sickly angles. Surely these aren’t the hands of a 26-year-old? The next unsightly joint is the seven-inch scar on her knee. Perhaps from a shark bite? Surely not damage done by her own body!

seven-inch scar down a woman's knee

Pain is many people’s nightmare – but what happens when pain is your everyday companion?

Pain is what happens when she attempts to get up from her bed. Her wrists and fingers ache as she pushes herself up. Her hips scream out when they are swung over the bed. Next comes a great big breath – a breath to psych herself up. The chants begin in her head: “You can do this,” “Breathe!” and “As soon as you have done this you can come back to bed.” She reaches down and grabs her crutches. On the count of three she uses the quickly vanishing energy to get to her feet. The room becomes dizzy as she catches her breath. Pain searing through her joints. It takes every bit of strength not to collapse back down onto the bed. The next step is the so-called “normal” ability to walk. Crutches first, then legs. She hears a noise only to realize it was her own grimace. Finally the bathroom is in sight. The thought of continuing out to the lounge is too distressing so her body crumples back into bed. Body shaking from the pain. Maybe tomorrow will be better? But what happens when tomorrow hasn’t come and your spirit becomes weak and the fight becomes too much? There is no magic drug, no button to push to eject yourself from your body.

Emotionally she is hurting just as much. Life has been flipped on its head and what control she once had is now taken over with pain medication and tears. It’s the tears that scare her. She knows things are bad when the tears start. When the image of her former self seems more like a memory than a reality. To her tears mean that lupus has finally got to her. Lupus has broken her. Lupus is in total control. She is only a host now. She is filled with sickening anxiety. Every decision she now makes has the ability to cause even more pain. There is frustration, anger, disappointment and grief. But most of all she is scared. Scared of the power lupus has. Its ability to cause such pain and distress. Such disability and despair. She is scared of the amount of medication she swallows daily to try to receive some relief. She is scared about lupus upsetting those she loves. Her family and friends having to see her struggle.

But even through it all, a tiny voice keeps telling her to hang onto hope.

Hope that the pain will decrease.

Hope that her mobility will return.

Hope the medication will provide relief.

Hope her smile will return.

But mainly hope that tomorrow will be better.

This post originally appeared on Livvy Joy.

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