I've Never Experienced a Day Without Pain


I never hope for a day free of pain. How can I hope for something I’ve never experienced? Something I’m not even sure exists? Pain-free is as mythical as a unicorn to me. I don’t know what that looks like, feels like, is like. I have a hard time even imagining that anyone experiences even an hour without pain. A day?! Unfathomable to me.

I didn’t have that moment. That soul crushing, identity changing moment, where all the activities you could do before have suddenly been taken away from you.

In some ways I feel like I’m lucky that I’ve always had pain. My memories don’t include a time that feels like a past life, in a healthier body. I didn’t have anything suddenly rip that away from me.

Pain, for me, isn’t judged by “before pain” and “after pain.” I judge pain by level six pain through level 10 pain. Those are the levels I know. And those levels were hard to put a number to. But, my kidney being obstructed, and shutting down is my level 10, and with chronic kidney stones, I never get too far below that level. So I call my best days level six. Those are the days I hope for.

That is my equivalent to going back to the times when I’ve felt my best.

I did have a specific age, a moment, when my illness and my pain worsened to a consistent eight to 10, mostly level 10, when I was 23 years old. That’s when I got to the point where I could no longer work. But work was always hard for me. I had to take time off on multiple medical leaves while in hospital, after surgeries, and also a long bout with a bad case of mono that I caught in the hospital. But I was a hard worker. I worked my way up in a company while working multiple other jobs. When I was able to work I was more like a constant six to eight with nines and 10s sprinkled in at times. When I became a level 10 on most days, I could no longer work.

So, I had loss. I had an identity crisis. I’m an overachiever. I enjoy doing and learning and being successful. But it was never physically easy for me or pain-free.

And in some ways, I’m grateful for that. My health wasn’t taken away from me in one big moment or over one bad year. I’m used to my limits and had to learn early on that I can have a meaningful life, full of love, no matter how much pain I’m in or how sick I feel.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: marzacz

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Chronic Pain

woman lying in bed at night checking her phone

It's 3 A.M. and I'm Awake With Chronic Pain

I’m awake at 3:00 a.m. Not because I just got back from a party, or because I’m up for a movie marathon with my friends. I’m up because the pain woke me up – again. I’m up because no matter how hard I tried, I cannot go back to sleep. I am up because the [...]
mother and son sitting on the bed and reading together

To My Son Who's Always There for His Mama With Chronic Pain

It’s just you and I, our perfect party of two. I look at our life, how far we’ve come, and I’m proud of us. Being a single mom, I worry a lot if I’m doing my best for you. Now that I’m a single mom with chronic pain, I worry even more. Especially about how [...]
A can resting on a bench.

When a Cane Brought Visibility to My Invisible Illness

After nine years of undiagnosed chronic pain, the label “sacroiliac joint dysfunction” was finally given to the constant ache and regular sharp pain in my lower back and hips. This was very encouraging, not just because I finally had an explanation for my anguish, but because it came with a highly successful treatment option, Prolotherapy. [...]
black and white watercolor painting of a woman with a braid in her hair

The Moment It Hit Me That My Chronic Pain Is Here to Stay

I was involved in a car accident in 2014. Since then, I have been battling chronic neck, shoulder and back pain, on top of my chronic migraine and chronic tension headache pain. My life has dramatically changed since that day almost three years ago. I never knew that one day I would wake up changed forever, [...]