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How It Feels to Have 3 Pain-Free Seconds a Day

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You know that place between sleep and awake? That moment in time after the alarm goes off, but your brain hasn’t quite woken up. Where you still remember what you were dreaming? That’s the place where I have zero pain. Those three seconds are literally the only time I have without pain in a 24-hour day.

Unless, of course, pain keeps me awake throughout the night — also known as painsomnia. Then I will hope for my three seconds another day.

The last time I was pain-free was a fluke of sorts about three years ago. I still remember it fondly. I was calm, relaxed and without pain of any kind. It lasted around 30 minutes and it’s currently one of my most cherished memories. I can’t remember a time without pain before that.

Can you imagine being an adult where a pain-free 30 minutes is a happy memory? This is the life of many chronic pain patients. There are dozens of causes behind chronic pain; mine happens to be fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis and migraines.

There are no cures to be had, only treatments and theories. Relief is minimal and anxiety becomes your sidekick. On a “good day” you’re able to keep up a normal activity level with pain around a 4-5. You live in constant fear of a flare that will increase your pain from an average of 6 to a max of 10.

Your mind is so overwhelmed with pain, it sometimes can’t process language, balance or memories. Tasks like walking unassisted or speaking clearly halt.

Worst of all, chronic pain patients are often stigmatized. When pain and its accompanying symptoms are usually “invisible” to others, we experience a lack of sympathy and empathy from those around us. Dysarthria, for example, can be embarrassing, so we may hide our struggles from coworkers and friends. The general public often sees us as drug-seekers and abusers.

In reality, many chronic pain patients consider ourselves warriors. We struggle every single day while holding onto hope for those three seconds. Sometimes it’s enough to do nothing but breathe. Other times, we’re able to conquer our days. We are strong while being weak. We’re fighters who are vulnerable. We’re valid and we’re doing our best.

Getty image by Fizkes.

Originally published: January 31, 2020
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