4 Reasons Why Chronic Pain Sucks

(This magnet hangs on a board near my desk.)

I’ve been told I have a positive attitude. I’ve been praised for not letting my autoimmune disease take control of my life.

I try. I try very hard to look at the bright side, to acknowledge that things could always be worse, to do the things I want to do pain or no pain.

But, in all honesty, the last couple of weeks have been really bad. Like trying-not-to-cry-as-I-walk-back-to-the-car-after-taking-my-son-to-school bad. 

In our home, we don’t curse. Even words that other families might use, like “sucks,” isn’t a word we use. Except, occasionally. 

Today is one of those occasions.

Chronic illness sucks. Chronic illness that causes chronic pain really sucks. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. For example:

  1. Sleep does not equal less pain.  I rarely sleep through the night. If I only wake up once, that’s a good night’s sleep for me. But the other night I did something I hadn’t done in a long time — I slept through the night. My body had a full night of uninterrupted sleep. I woke up, amazed to realize it was morning. I got out of bed and felt … lousy. Terrible pain. From the moment I woke up until I went to bed again that night.
  2. Muscle spasms worsen everything.  I was sitting at my desk, with the dull pain I’m used to in my left leg. As my son was showering, my left calf began to twitch. And not in its usual twitching spot — more on the inside of my leg. This was the outer side of my calf. My muscle twitched, and I tried to rub my leg. My muscle continued twitching, and I bit my finger. It finally stopped twitching and I had a really hard time getting up from my desk chair. I had an even harder time stepping into my own shower. My leg was tight when I went to bed that night and no different when I woke up with the alarm the next morning.
  3. Rest doesn’t automatically mean relief.  I have been making an effort to take time for myself. To rest. Not in the form of a nap, but sitting outside on our patio, reading a book. I usually spend my days taking care of household chores, dealing with appointments, and writing. But I have been making a conscious decision to set aside some time during the week — when my husband is at work and my son is at school — just for me. To sit in one of my favorite places, doing one of my favorite things. I hoped to notice an improvement — an increase in relaxation, a decrease in discomfort. Nope. Maybe it’s too soon. Maybe I need to do this more often, more consistently. In any event, I got in some extra reading time. 
  4. Pain levels fluctuate.  When I spoke to my husband on one of his breaks, my pain wasn’t bad. It felt so good to be able to say that to him. By the time he called on his next break, about three hours later, it was bad. Pain-pill bad. I hadn’t done anything physically strenuous or anything I could see as a possible trigger (like gardening or standing on a step-stool to reach something on a high shelf in the closet). The pain shifted — from not bad to real bad. And for no apparent reason. 

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