Sometimes I think people forget that chronic pain isn’t a simply a struggle that exists in the moment. For every minute of pain there are five other minutes of fear and confusion and worries about what the future will hold. In that way, chronic pain is a pervasive aspect that touches on the past, present, and future, and to think that those who suffer from it are only concerned about their pain in the moment is unrealistic.
Every time I have a flare I, it acts as a stark reminder that the pain comes from somewhere, and inevitably also has to lead somewhere else.
Yesterday I had an awful pain day. I woke up curled up in the fetal position. It felt like someone was pressing assorted knives into my hips and lower back over and over again. Even walking to the shower was painful, like each step was a new adventure in agony. It was a bad day, hell, it’s been a bad week. The rational part of you can only deal with so much stress before those sturdy walls you’ve built around your sanity start to break down. And when they do… Little things start to sneak in. Little ideas and fears. Why is there more pain? What does it mean? Is something wrong?
I know I’ll have to get the rest of my spine fused eventually. That is just a fact. But when that happens I won’t be able to bend at all. I’ll be like a LEGO person only with three more expressions and less controlled hair. Maybe it will help the pain, maybe not. Probably not. More hospital, more IV lines, more scars. More sleepless nights and log-rolling so I can sit up. More nurses waking you up every hour to take your temperature and blood pressure.
More roommates who watch the TV too loud or always have visitors. More dry toast, if you get to eat at all. More catheters and invasions of privacy. More feelings of being filthy even though you are trapped in one of the most sterile places imaginable.
More pain, more sutures, more cut nerves that never heal and leave you feeling like less of a person. More questions, more things going wrong. More physio when you are exhausted and want to sleep. More people telling you to just take one step more. More x-rays to irradiate your already glowing ovaries, thanks but no thanks potential future children. More damp clothes as the only means to clean yourself. Being sick from anesthesia. More emotional struggles because of said anesthesia. More time missed with family and friends. More important occasions ruined or altered because you’re too tired or sick or doped up or still in the hospital and can’t be there or deal with it.
More fears about something going wrong. Of becoming useless to the ones I love and who love me.
Chronic pain is about so much more than the pills and the heating pads and the bad flare up days. It is a whole culmination of fears about the present and the future. It’s about all the possibilities, and not all the rational thinking in the world can get a person out of that loop of thought. You can’t rationalize that many what if’s. All you can do it rotate through them, one at a time, and hope that you’ve got the right tools to deal with the stress.