Pain, Pain Won’t Go Away…
When you have to deal with pain and get on with life.
I haven’t been writing as much, because Christmas happened. I’d like to say the holiday kept me from Medium, but in truth I had a tough month with pain, and I decided between hosting Thanksgiving and two Christmases that I’d wait until the new year to write. Those of you who have been dealing with pain all of December know what a tough time it is. We try to decorate, send cards, wrap gifts and bake while continuing with laundry, cleaning and bills while finding ourselves wrapped in hellish pain.
Pain is supposed to tell our bodies that something is wrong, but when it comes to ongoing pain our bodies have raised an alarm that should be muted. Even those of us lucky enough to have migraines know we aren’t going to die from one, but it doesn’t make the aching, stabbing shots of endless pain stop.
Whatever your source of pain, you are not alone in suffering, and I hope by writing about my experience with it that you might feel less alone, more understood and maybe a bit happier. You are not alone. In America there are 50 million people who have chronic pain. With about 330 million Americans, that’s a huge percentage dealing with something more than just uncomfortable. We have pain that will not go away. So what do we do?
Yes, going to doctors is tough especially since so many physicians do not want to hand out medicines that treat our pain. I try to take even ibuprofen sporadically, since it’s tough on the kidneys, so when I hear another doctor talking about addiction I want to cry. We need relief. I understand addiction, because people in my family are alcoholics, but I don’t know of a single person addicted to pain meds. Tonight I took a half of a hydrocodone, because of pain from three botched surgeries and the adhesions that are still inside.
I felt relief for several hours. I’m back to grinding my teeth while I try not to use the few remaining pills my old doctor gave me. The new one won’t. I’ve been to pain clinics, and when they tally up about ten surgeries, ten illnesses and endless pain from a bad bike accident they are amazed that I’m moving around and living a life. What other option do I have?
So go to a pain clinic and try everything they offer. Keep trying, and be honest about your discomfort. Tell the doctors about the pain that keeps you awake at night, that robbed you of a job and out of happy relationships.
Journal to keep track of your symptoms. Our pain can change, and when we communicate with healthcare professionals they need to know what we are feeling. When I had my bladder removed almost 25 years ago, I woke up from that surgery convinced that I had to pee very badly. I was so upset that I felt like my bladder was still inside me. Everyone had a tough time calming me down, and it took an insightful doctor to explain my brain was reading the surgical pain as that pain I felt for 14 years. I calmed down. A lot.
Understanding why we have our pain helps. We can bear it when we know why our brains are telling us something is wrong; though it doesn’t make us like it any more. When we experience a new symptom we get anxious. Having someone look into why our pain has changed is very important, since we need to be reassured that we’re still okay.
You can reach out for support groups either in person or online. I find some groups to be helpful, but other ones have made me feel like finding the nearest bridge and jumping off. Only work with a group that helps you. Don’t wallow in sadness and woe, because we have things to do and enjoy in spite of pain. Find a good group of people who are also getting out of bed and off the couch as much as possible.
We need inspiration. Finding out that Serena Williams played major tennis matches while having a migraine made me feel inspired to do more while I have migraines. I’m not playing in Grand Slam tennis matches, but I have homes to care for, people to take nurture, and projects I’m involved with. Find people who suffer and still do life. Then copy them.
Don’t miss out. You have to pull yourself together sometimes. Not always. Not even most of the time, but at least half of the time make the effort to put on some decent clothes and get out there. Go to the movies, meet with a friend, go to the library or museum. Host a Super Bowl party for a very few people, since it just takes a few pizzas and drinks to make this party work.
Live a life. Immerse yourself in something that takes your mind off your pain. If you lose track of time while doing something, it’s a sure sign that you like that hobby. Do that. Find a hobby if you don’t have one. Watch tv on days that are bad, read books on the so-so days, and get up and move on a good day. I’m at the point where going grocery shopping is super exciting, and I buy a coffee at the store and peruse shampoos.
Laugh. Find your funny. For me, Twitter is very amusing. I was laughing so hard last night. Watch a comedy. Have hilarious friends, read funny stories on Medium or Reddit, and laugh at yourself, too. Find the humor in your life, laugh at the insanity of it all, and you’ll be a better person. You might still be in pain, but you’ll feel better and other people won’t think you’re such a drudge.
Hang in there. I’m sorry if you have pain, but you have great company. Lots of us hurt. Remember you are not alone in your pain. Don’t give up. Please, stay in the game and don’t give in. We’ll get through this together.