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Why It's Hard to Be a Young Mother in Pain

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Some would say that I like to keep busy, and I do. I fill my mind with thoughts and ideas to keep life afloat. I like to get things done, and do them right. I have not-so-distant memories of walking briskly with my dog, biking vigorously in the early mornings, and pushing my body to the limits at the gym. No, I was never ripped and bikini ready, but I was fit. Even after my diagnosis, and when things began to slow down, I could still race through a day. I could bike and trek through theme parks, campgrounds, and small towns with my boys in tow.

The vibrant conqueror who could plow through anything thrown at her changed. In what felt like an instant, the woman staring back at me in the mirror was tattered, worn, sore and helpless. My face had aged, my positive demeanor whittled away as the progressiveness of my diseases started to show. My body was aging faster then my mind. I realized that pain is hard. Describing it is harder. And living with it every day can be exhausting.

Despite this, and after months of tedious planning, we took our children on a big trip to Disney World. Our kids’ excitement as we talked about our upcoming adventures was often clouded by my disruptive thoughts of the pain and discomfort that I may endure. After some sleepless nights, mental contemplations, and a whole lot of faith, I convinced myself that the lady who used to be in the mirror, could do this again.

I huffed through that first park smiling and ready to do all the things that you should do in Disney, walking kilometers hopping from one ride to the next. Within a few hours, my body started failing. My knees ached, my hips creaked, and the limping had started. Trying to get the most out of our days, I limped onward clenching my teeth through the pain. By the evening, my feet swelled and bruised, and I could hardly apply weight to my legs. My hip, so sore, was impossible to sleep on. The throbbing, burning pain was at times unbearable — and this was day one.

Still, I masked how I was feeling that day, as well as the proceeding days. Letting the pain build and progress as my limping became more prominent, and swelling made it difficult to wear shoes. Through this trauma, I began to notice that I was immersing myself into a full on relapsing polychondritis flare — my ears swelled, my chest hurt, and my face felt like it was hit with a bat. The pain was real. It was depressing.

Besides the limping, my outward appearance remained unaltered; I powered though. I smiled and giggled with my children, adventuring on all the rides and scenic treks to enjoy these precious moments, without letting my ailments affect their glistening hearts.

Being young, a mother, and in pain is hard. I want to jet ski and ride quads with my boys; I want to climb to the top of a mountain and hear the crunching of leaves and the trickling of creeks. I want to bike through town, grabbing my groceries and feel the hot sun against my sweaty back. I want to walk for endless hours through a theme park, not fearing the pain and the damage to my health by doing so.

Now I stand here staring in the mirror. That woman — the tattered and sore woman staring back at me is looking into her soul, searching for that girl who could do anything.

Where is she, and can she come back? 

Originally published: April 5, 2018
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