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Battling Through the Winter With Chronic Pain

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Plenty of people joke about needing the beach and “hibernating” when cold weather sets in, but for those of us with chronic pain, those jokes are oh-so-true. Dealing with chronic pain during extreme temperatures is a battle.

At present, it is a bone-chilling 7° Fahrenheit outside. Yes, 7! For me, that means I’m pretty much stuck inside unless I want to be in even more pain. Every second I’m outside in weather like this is torture. It’s like a million jagged shards of glass piercing every square inch of my skin, ripping through my flesh, and embedding themselves in my bones. Once embedded, it feels like they begin a sort of vibrating motion, shaking me to the core, creating waves of aches through my bones and joints. Every. Single. Second. After only a couple of minutes of this type of pain, I begin to lose focus and have a very hard time concentrating on whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. If it gets bad enough, or goes on too long, I can black out.

Trying to physically move with that type of pain makes everything robotic and difficult. Stiff muscles, joints and bones prevent moving in any way that is safe on ice. Balancing can be near impossible, so the risk of falling and injuring myself is always high. I once loved winter; now it’s the worst time of my year and I dread it. I spend my days inside, wishing I could leave, or needing to go out for something, but just having to go without. Every time I go out there, it’s extra dangerous for me. I have to worry about the weather and my body betraying me.

I’m lucky to have a couple of people who can help me out. Without them, I would likely go days without eating. I would attempt to go out, of course, but I’d probably not even get done clearing away the snow before my body gave out. Yes, it gets that bad! Accepting that reality has been the hardest part of all. No one under 40 wants to believe they aren’t capable of going out when they need or want to. I’ve had no choice but to accept this, at least in the winter. The pain is so bad it overwhelms me and makes me angry. For at least a full 10 minutes after getting out of the cold, I’m likely to snap at someone just for speaking to me because I’m trying to get the pain to calm down. It takes a good 30 minutes for my pain level to return to what is my “normal.” It’s excruciating and exhausting.

So, thank you to those who are willing to help those of us who aren’t able to do what is needed. To those who have never really thought about it before, think about it. Do you know someone who has a hard time in the colder temperatures? Consider offering to go to the store for them or asking what else they need. Maybe a ride to the doctor. If we do have to be out, it’s much less dangerous if we have someone to drive and help us. Remember though, if we’re a bit grumpy, it could be because the pain is overwhelming. Just be patient with us while we’re battling the cold!

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Getty Image by alexkich

Originally published: February 11, 2018
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