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How Being Sick Affects My Chronic Pain

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Today is Wednesday. Since Sunday, I have had tonsillitis, a cough, horrendous cold, headache, earache, fluctuating temperature. You name it, I have it. Today I figured I would write about something that I’m pretty sure many of you are familiar with if you have chronic pain…What it’s like to have an illness, virus or bug – combined with my chronic pain.

I really hated being poorly when I was fit and healthy, but I pushed through. I mean, you have to, don’t you? Especially when you have kids, work, a house, etc.

I still have all those things, but for the last few years, I have had chronic pain too. Now, I really really hate being ill. Not only does the illness itself affect me, but my pain increases, my temperature control is pretty much non-existent and I feel like death warmed up. Not a pretty image! (Doesn’t feel too great either.)

I have Tietze syndrome, which is similar to costochondritis, but is less common and involves swelling of the chest as well as inflammation of the costochondral joint. After having a coughing attack, I literally feel as though an elephant is sat on my chest. The worst thing is the swelling can last for days, even weeks after the other symptoms have calmed down.

Having hypermobility means that a coughing fit also increases the risk of a rib popping out of place. Again, extra pain on top of the virus itself. And then there’s the fibromyalgia. I can go from heatwave to arctic in five seconds flat, and back again. It feels like there are bugs crawling under my skin. I constantly itch, and that’s just part of it. Having a chronic pain condition will mean it takes me longer than the average Joe to get better.

When someone says to me “it’s only a virus,” I have to refrain myself from giving them a high five in the face. It may just be a virus to them, but to me, the virus is the least of my worries. It’s all the other things that go alongside it, like the health complications other people don’t see just by looking at you.

Here in Hampshire, UK, we are bracing ourselves for what is being called the “beast from the east” – extremely cold weather and snowstorms coming in from Russia. Coldest winter in five years, apparently. And I expect you can guess what’s probably coming next. Weather extremes can drastically affect our bodies when we have chronic pain. I can honestly say I am not looking forward to the next few days.

So if you’re ill, struggling as I am but with no one else who gets what we go though, I hope you feel better soon. Keep those fighting heads on and remember you can do this!

Getty Image by Tero Vesalainen

Originally published: March 2, 2018
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