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When One Condition Takes Over, the Others Don't Go Away

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This morning I woke up to a punch in the face. Lovely. Trigeminal neuralgia, thank you so much for that alarm call…

But after a few minutes, I smiled and I did say thank you. Because for a while, I’ve woken up to extremely painful ribs. Ribs that have said don’t move, don’t sneeze, don’t cough, don’t yawn, don’t go to the toilet (sorry, that may be too personal), don’t hiccup (that’s a nightmare) and very often, just don’t breathe.

I didn’t have a nasty accident to cause my painful ribs, I just got unlucky. I have scoliosis (curvature of my spine) which has given me chronic back pain for most of my life, but it has also lead to the painful ribs problem. And quite a problem they can be. So yes, waking up to that face punch was a message that my ribs were a wee bit less painful today. And that was a nice feeling. A wee change at least. Not really a nice change. But a change…

Many people living with chronic illness are like me: they live with more than one condition. It must be confusing to onlookers. “What have they got wrong with them today?” It must seem like we are dealing with one thing one day, then something entirely different the next. But though it might look like we’re only dealing with one condition at a time, we’re not. Nothing ever goes away.

Monday’s condition doesn’t go away when Tuesday’s condition decides to take over. It’s just that Tuesday’s condition has come in with a vengeance and wants to be noticed, so Monday’s condition slinks into the background a little bit. But unfortunately it’s still well and truly there. On Wednesday, another problem might decide it wants the limelight. Or Tuesday’s problem might be determined to have two days in the row. Or Monday’s might even decide it’s had enough of being pushed into the background. Or they might all decide to fight amongst themselves for that notable position, then we get an “everything is playing havoc” type of day.

For us living with chronic conditions, we never know what tomorrow will bring. All we can do is focus on today’s problems. Just get through today, then deal with tomorrow when it comes.

So today, I’ll deal with my sore face and nurse my sore ribs which I know are just waiting to take over again. But oh, how nice it would be to wake up one morning to no pain at all. Anyone out there with a magic wand?

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 9, 2016
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