When I Wonder If I Can Fight My Chronic Pain for Forever


Thanks to ankylosing spondylitis, I’ve been fighting chronic pain for eight years now. Majority of the time I’m a warrior and know I’ll make it through. “One day at a time,” I tell myself.

Then there are times when I wonder, “How can I possibly fight this forever?” It’s typically during a bad flare-up and I have my pain medication, but there are times that it doesn’t seem to touch the pain or muscle spasms. During those spells I don’t sleep well. I may sleep for an hour or two at a time. I desperately dig through my “bag of tricks” trying anything to get relief to no avail. So I seek help, I need help!

I call my primary care doctor and wait for an appointment, hoping it’s not too far out. But I’ve found, as many chronic pain patients have, primary care doctor’s are afraid to prescribe you anything else, and certainly won’t increase your medication to help you through a flare-up, because of all of the new laws and restrictions. The new laws, meant for those who abuse their medication, leave chronic pain patients to struggle. The law’s and policies have them afraid of losing their license to practice, leaving those who desperately need help in limbo. So I reach out to my pain management doctor for help and appointments can be weeks or up to a month away. Don’t they understand my desperation for help?

At times, my body is screaming so loudly in pain, my muscles so weak they give out, so I give up and go to the emergency room. Somebody has to help me.

Typically I’m given enough medication to help the pain and a shot of muscle relaxers that allow me to get through the night and finally sleep. I’m sent home with a steroid pack with the typical parting words, “Feel better.” Knowing I may feel better, but I’ll be back at some point.

In these days of suffering, when nothing I do or try helps, I feel hopeless. I’ve taken all the medication I can.

I’ve stretched every muscle. I’ve tried to rest in every position possible. My “bag if tricks” is empty. I’m in tears wondering how am I supposed to manage day-to-day. And how am I supposed to have hope that I can fight this forever when I can barely fight right now? So much of what I enjoy in life has already been taken from me. Something as simple as sleep is what I’m left fighting for!

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Nine times out of 10, my body eventually crashes. I finally sleep, often countless hours and usually for days as my body heals. My pain returns to manageable again. I’ve survived what I felt was impossible.

I’m reminded of the people in my life that I fight for. I see the beauty in nature again. Even my first cup of coffee tastes better. My mood has shifted and I fight the daily chronic pain, one day at a time.

Chronic pain is brutal on your body, mind and spirit. It never ends, only fluctuates from tolerable to unbearable. I will keep fighting as life is a beautiful and precious time with those we love and what we love in the world. One day the battle will end, but that isn’t for me to decide when that day is.

In times of desperation, I try to remind myself it will return to manageable, yet the pain overpowers that thought until it does. It’s a vicious cycle. I resort solely to living, and dealing with a life of pain telling myself, “One day at a time.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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