Who knew? Well, one in five American adults apparently, they (we) live with the daily grind of chronic never ending mind numbing aches and pains. And it’s hell. I’m not in a great mood today. I’ve been thinking about writing something but didn’t, I was ashamed of how crappy I feel. I know of friends in much worse pain, who constantly deal with surgeries and challenges but I’m a newbie here on the pain spectrum. It’s only been four years since the hip/back began hurting, although some 15 years ago, my knees gave up and I had to stop being a landscaper. It was too late though. The leg that dug the most has done its damage.
As I lie in bed, on bed, at a friend’s place, I read about pain management, call for appointments, research best diets, new practices, and the 5 Things Only Someone with Chronic Pain Knows, the 11 Things, the 27 Things.
I know this:
I cringe each time someone points out my gimpy walk, how it takes a while to straighten up after sitting, or asks if I’m okay. Yes, it’s done out of love but it doesn’t help. It amplifies my awkwardness, it makes me even more self-conscious.
I don’t know if today will be a good day or not. Perhaps the first hour to two is great but I over do it a bit and then I’m down. There’s no knowing.
Rain and damp grey days hurt. Not only physically but emotionally, they drain me. The hovering depression kicks in and there I am, back in bed, unable to motivate.
Cannabis does not help. Oh, it takes the edge off but the idea of living in a stoned fog for the rest of my life is not one I can face. I’ve worked hard at being healthy, eating well, staying present. To be eating edibles for pain management is not a longterm solution for me.
“Hope you feel better soon” doesn’t help. Chronic means ongoing, perhaps with waves but without end.
Having suggestions as to what to do from people who don’t have chronic pain doesn’t help. Again, I know it’s done with love (mostly!) but you don’t get it. Ibuprofen is not going to cut it. Stretching and yoga, you ask? Unless someone knows exactly what’s going on in this body of mine, there’s too much I could do that would only make it worse. In my case, the exercises for the hip are contrary to what the back needs.
Managing the pain is one thing and the emotional drain is another. They blur together. The egg each other on like bratty siblings. And I don’t have a mum to ask to tell them to shut up.
Pills help/don’t help. I don’t want to live on pain killers. Would you?
I can’t work. As a writer, editor, it’s all about focus and putting myself out there. I don’t have it in me. I haven’t for months. I don’t run ads, reach out on social media, research calls for work, query agents or publishers, follow up on leads, or even write for pleasure. I have three books in progress and none get any attention. My friends either ask what I’m working on or tell me I don’t have to be so productive. But yes, I do. Without me being productive, my work disappears from public view, so no sales, no audience, no editing, no income. None. And if I did get that dream job or any income for that matter, I’ll lose the Medicaid. Without medicaid, I won’t be able to afford the surgeries or pain meds needed. I won’t get the appointments and consultations. Catch 22, I love being a freelance writer but right now, I can’t do it.
I can’t work. I can’t sit down for very long. I have to walk, sit, or lie down in equal measure each day. I can’t focus. I have no energy. No playfulness to create from.
And if someone else tells me that they pity me, I’ll scream.
I don’t write this for you, but for me. I’ve been ashamed of how my fit, outgoing, creative and productive self hides out, low energy, kinda depressed I suppose. I am waiting for the next round of appointments. After a couple of years at the clinic, doing physical therapy, taking pills, changing this and that, getting xrays and MRIs, it’s time for the big guns. I call for a consultation. The orthopedic doctor can see me in September, the neurologist and the pain management after that. The surgery, if it happens, is already booked five months out, so if I start the process with that doctor in September, we’re talking next year at the earliest. And that’s the treatable part. The rest, I have to live with.
It makes me know that for the rest of this year, or just the next month, I need to do what I can, when I can. No guarantees, right? Live life to the fullest today, this week, next week. A good day? Yes, go outside. A bad day, stay in bed and read. Walk the old wobbly dog and be thankful when friends walk the youngster. My happy place is behind a steering wheel, so now I drive an hour and take a break. Find a place to stop, stretch, watch the dogs sniff and explore. Slow and steady. No guarantees. What’s on my bucket list? Which items do I want to try now? That’s the homework I’m setting myself. To figure it all out, without shame, but I need your help. Don’t comment. Don’t suggest things you haven’t tried yourself. Don’t compare yourself to me, “at your age, I used to…”
Just let me be. I’m doing my best. Good days and bad. Slow and steady.
Time to hit the road, while I can. And Harold and Billie are up for it.