Appreciating the lack of pain, chronic pain can be debilitating
Are you Pain Free?
Pain free is not just a phrase. It is a way of life that chronic pain sufferers can never have again! Oh, they may find small relief from medications or heating pads or something, buy the pain never leaves entirely. It can make it difficult for someone to even wish to live another day. Take a moment to realize what someone in chronic pain is feeling and to enjoy the fact that you are pain free.
To the right is a poem about:
A typical day for a young active adult living through everyday stress and strife. Would it be different if the day is filled more with pain than routine?
PJ's and teddy bear all set for bed; the kids can sleep tonight.
A Typical Pain Free Day (a poem)
You rise in the morning and begin another day
The kids, the spouse, the chaos all go the same way
During the day you work doing the things that must be done
Then you leave your work and to home you happily come
The day slows down, the kids grow tired, bed time rolls around
PJ’s, baths, stories for all, hugs and kisses abound
Giggles, cries, questions, bangs, enough noise to astound
Finally they sleep in peace and quiet, there is not a sound
You smile gratefully that all is well and crawl beneath the sheets
‘Tis time for you to relax a bit before falling asleep
A book to read, a tea to sip, a blanket covered in fleece
And all around the house is quiet, you’re grateful for the peace
If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to your doctor:
Your doctor may be able to prescribe pain relief that is not drug related or that is used topically (on the skin such as creams, gels, or patches). There are many alternatives out there. Drug related pain relief carries so many dangers of dependence, stomach and digestive issues, side affects, and possibly affecting other medications you are taking.
Do you suffer from chronic pain?
My own experiences
I have lived with chronic pain for many years now and I can tell you that there is nothing routine about it. Let’s take the poem above and break it down for someone who is (or might be) in chronic pain:
- You rise in the morning and begin another day: Rising in the morning is filled with agonizing pain that locks joints, rips through muscles and leaves a person weak and exhausted from the effort. Sometimes you don't even want to get up.
- The kids, the spouse, the chaos all go the same way: Generally taking care of oneself is difficult at best, making meals, dressing, even a simple coffee can be hard to do. Kids and family move too fast to keep up with when you suffer from chronic pain.
- During the day you work, doing the things that must be done: A work day is nearly impossible. Sitting hurts, standing hurts, walking hurts, even simple writing hurts. And worst of all, you can only do these things for a short period of time with only a little pain that you can bear well enough, but then the moment hits and your body can take no more of that position. From that moment on you are in throbbing agony no matter what you do. It doesn't matter which position you chose either.
- Then you leave your work and to home you happily come: Leaving work can be a trying experience because all of those things you brought with you, like briefcase, lunch, coat, etc. must now be carried or handled before leaving for the day. With a weak, pain filled body, such things are nearly impossible to accomplish. And two trips are avoided if at all possible.
- The day slows down, the kids grow tired, bed time rolls around: Bedtime for others that you must help creates more pain as your muscles, now complaining with the slightest movement, must continue to stretch and hold weight that they are incapable of holding.
- PJ’s, baths, stories for all, hugs and kisses abound: PJ’s and bath time is hard, with the exception that the heat of the bath water does ease some of the aches and pains, but not for long. It does help when the kids can do that part themselves.
- Giggles, cries, questions, bangs, enough noise to astound: Trying to keep the children in bed and getting them to sleep with stories, discipline, harried calls for water or blankets can keep the body muscles tightly knotted and will give little time for rest. You can't wait for them to settle down.
- Finally they sleep in peace and quiet, there is not a sound: Once everyone else is sleeping, trying to get to your own room can be a challenge. Your body and muscles are tight and ache from all of your activity. Once there, sleep is still far away as you try to get your throbbing pain to settle down and allow you to sleep for at least an hour or so.
- You smile gratefully that all is well and crawl beneath the sheets: Sometimes just getting your feet onto the bed and under the sheets is an impossible task. Many with chronic pain in their legs will sleep in a lounge chair because they can’t get their legs onto the bed. Others might use the chair because they can't support their back in any other manner.
- Tis time for you to relax a bit before falling asleep: Once all is quiet and you have finally gotten your own PJ’s on and are lying in bed, your joints and muscles ache so badly that it takes forever for you to get to sleep. Sleep sometimes doesn’t come at all; but you still have to get up and face another day. No wonder so many need heavy pain killers.
- A book to read, a tea to sip, a blanket covered in fleece: picking up a book and holding it to read can be painful and cause cramping in your hands and arms. A hot tea might feel better against the joints rather than in the mouth. Yet it can help to relax you and maybe get your muscles to stop throbbing.
- And all around the house is quiet, you’re grateful for the peace: and you hope that no one can hear all your grunts and groans as you try to get comfortable enough to go to sleep. You also hope your spouse can sleep through all your tossing and turning.
My cat, Charlie, was full of arthritis before she died and moved very slowly and deliberately.
Not everyone understands chronic pain, especially if they don't suffer from it.
People who do not suffer from chronic pain, jump from bed, wash, dress and race down stairs with a cell phone attached to their ear while they brew coffee and race about making breakfast. Pain doesn’t affect them and they find it hard to understand the pain of others. They can carry a briefcase, a child, a diaper bag, the mail, a lunch box, keys, glasses, and anything else they might need, and all with one trip. But they can’t figure out why a person in chronic pain can barely get their own coat on, much less carry anything or race down the stairs because everyone is late.
I raised three children virtually on my own and I was one of those who carried two kids, a diaper bag, toys, blankets, rattles, pacifiers, my purse, and held the hand of the third child. I never had time, because I was always so rushed with the kids. And I would get frustrated if someone in front of me was moving slow because I wanted to put things down. But not anymore. Suddenly, I understand their movements. I hope this hub will help others to do the same. In chronic pain myself, I can now see their point of view.
Overdoing it is not the only cause of a flare up
Chronic pain doesn’t just affect a person when they have overdone something either. Chronic pain is always there, lurking beneath the skin, stinging and grinding occasionally to remind you that it is there. It throbs at the most inopportune times and causes a person to catch their breath with the intensity of it. Chronic pain also causes a person to slow down their movements in anticipation of the agony they will feel if they push their body too far. Chronic pain makes even simple tasks seem impossible. Lifting a cup to your lips for a sip of your favorite hot drink becomes impossible as the muscles knot up without warning. Writing a letter to a friend is virtually non-existent because the hands cramp up after the first few words. Walking the dog is out of the question, especially if the dog wants to run and play while outside.
I know that not everyone is this bad. I also know that not everyone suffers in the same manner or has the same tolerance for pain. But many do; and the problems often get worse not better. Yes, chronic pain suffers have medications, pain management, physical therapy and equipment to help. Do these things always help? No, they do not. Sadly, they sometimes make it worse.
Try to take a moment to understand and maybe help out
With all of this in mind, perhaps you could take a moment to hold a door for someone who is trying to get into or out of a building and is moving slow. Perhaps you could carry a few of their items for them. Or perhaps you could be a bit more patient when they are trying to make their way. Understanding how a person with chronic pain feels can help you to see why they are moving the way they are. They are not trying to be a pain by walking slow because they are not in a hurry. They are not trying to make others wait on them or for them. And they are not trying to get special treatment. They are in pain and are trying to do their best to continue to function and do things for themselves.
So, the next time you are in a hurry and see someone going slowly down the stairs, or see someone using a cane and slowly moving from an elevator, take a moment to revel in the fact that you are pain free and then offer to help them get where they are going! Not only will you make yourself feel better, but you will make them feel better, too.
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© 2012 Cheryl Simonds