So you’re about to take a peek into what it’s like to live with chronic pain. It’ not always easy and optimistic – it’s often difficult and challenging and I’m going to share a little bit of this side of it. There. You’ve been warned.
One of the hardest things about living with chronic pain is the constant fluctuations. Sunday may be a good day that only requires two pain pills and allows me to get out and do a lot. You may see me at Walgreens walking around and looking normal. Tuesday may begin with sharp pains and significantly limit my activity. If you see me out and about, I’m parked in the handicap spot, shuffling and/or in a wheelchair. The continual ups and downs make it hard to plan or to have any kind of “normal.” I’m always trying to figure out what my normal is, analyzing every movement and meal to find the magic combination of activity and rest where I feel the best. Over the last week I thought I had finally found my normal. I felt pretty good for about four days in a row and I felt in control and free to do the things I wanted (within reason of course). And then I woke up today in more pain than “usual.” My whole normal was thrown off and I felt like I was back at the beginning, trying to analyze what happened and what I should do differently, if anything.
I’ve been seeing a counselor for the last few weeks in an effort to process all the things I am going through. With her help, I’m realizing that while continuing to try is a good thing (i.e. trying to get better, trying to find doctors who can help, trying to figure out what things help/hurt), my constant analyzing and quest for normalcy is just attempting to control my uncontrollable situation. I want a predictable life while I’m living with an unpredictable condition. She is encouraging me to just go with the flow and take each day as it comes. It’s ironic that I talk about that all the time and often blog about trying to “relax and enjoy the ride,” when that truly is one of the hardest things for me to do. I want to be in control; to plan and know what to expect. Going with the flow is a lot easier said than done.
Since I’m a planner, I’m now planning how to go with the flow. Sounds like a contradiction, right? But hey, it helps, so that’s what I’m going to do, dammit. 🙂 On my good days I’ll do everything I can (again, within reason) and on my bad days I will rest, research more doctors/pain clinics, plan fun things to do/see on my good days, look at magazines, do mind games/puzzles, knit, etc. I’m going to try to think of things I’d like to do this week instead of just this particular day, then do them when I can. For example, I need to go to the store this week so I’ll go on one of the good days instead of planning to go on a particular day and feeling bad if the day I planned to go ends up being a bad day. I won’t feel guilty if I can’t do as much as I would like. I will let go.
Thanks for reading some of my experiences. I hope it will help you understand what it’s like for people with any chronic pain or illness.
Here’s to letting go.