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What Others Need to Know About My Chronic Pain

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Today is a rough day. This whole week has consisted of rough days. Pain in my hands, hips, back, thighs, uterine cramps, a headache that comes and goes. The pain is worse this week than normal, and that happens sometimes for various reasons, but I am always in some degree of pain.

I assure you, I am not a drama queen and I’m not begging for your attention. I’d really rather not have to deal with this, so no, I am not attention-seeking. I am relief-seeking and trying to get the most out of every day.

Every day is a bit of a mixed bag. What if the weather changes, or I have a mishap at work which causes stress, or a family emergency, which also causes stress, or it’s just that time in my hormone cycle, or any number of things that can trigger pain? Part of the difficulty is that I usually can’t predict this. One day I’m fine, the next day I’m not fine, the day after that I can’t get out of bed.

Every happy thing has pain hanging over it, even if I’m not in bad pain that day. Every day I wonder what happens if a wave of intolerable pain happens, how I’ll get through. I always have a back-up plan and medications in my purse, so I can take the edge off at least. But it’s always in the back of my head. “Should I really commit to this event? Will I be able to get through it, or am I over-committing by going out to dinner after work? If I push myself too hard, I’ll have a flare.”

So even on the low-pain days, the fear of pain always hangs over me.

I called myself a broken record the other day, and Debbie Downer. I know I tell you it hurts a lot, but please know I’m not telling you everything and I am holding back. I don’t want to be perceived as always negative. But this is part of my everyday life, and if I don’t talk about it I’ll be even more miserable. Having an outlet is an incredible relief. I appreciate you listening to me, but I don’t want to burden you with it and I don’t want you to see me as someone who is simply incapable of living my life. So I rarely tell you how bad it really is. When I start to sound repetitive, please practice patience and compassion with me. Consider this: if it’s exhausting for you to hear about it, how exhausting is it for me to live it?

Yes, I have tried that thing that your neighbor’s cousin’s ex-husband’s best friend tried, and I tried the cream you got me on Amazon, and acupuncture, and different medications, yoga, giving up certain foods, meditation, etc etc. Thank for the suggestions. I got it from here. I’ve been trying to control this for five years now. There is no cure. This is my life. All I can do is control it, and part of controlling it is having support. Thank you so very much for your kind intentions, but it would mean the entire world to me if you’d hold my hand sometimes and just help me not feel alone. Pain can be very isolating, and just someone being there without judgment or trying to “fix it” is what I need to feel better.

I miss a lot of my old self, before all this developed. I know you miss that version of me, too. I’m the same soul. I’m the same sense of humor, values, intelligence. I’m not as spontaneous about going to have drinks or going to the lake or going dancing. But my heart is the same, I promise.

This is who I am now. I don’t like it any more than you do. Please bear with me while I figure this out. Even though I can’t do as much, I’m still the same person. Don’t give up on me.

Getty Image by berdsigns

Originally published: May 29, 2018
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