ARE YOU TRAPPED IN A LIFE OF CHRONIC PAIN?
Very often, I receive tragically sad blog and FB notes from individuals who are trapped in their lives and their families and friends don’t “get it.” This entrapment can be a lonely place. I know this from my personal experience with chronic pain. The list of “I can’t do that anymore” is a long one for millions of individuals, including me.
Today, many individuals are beginning to understand how we live, unfortunately, thanks to this awful Covid virus. There are many similarities between the way of life many of us have had for years and the way everyone is supposed to be behaving voluntarily today. Of course, we are limited without free will, trapped by pain and physically damaged or ill bodies. Wearing a good mask and keeping a safe distance has been thrust upon us as the two safest ways to stay safe in this world today. Just remember those of us with autoimmune diseases are at a high risk for this disease, so be especially careful if you have one of those. It will end eventually.
To others, those of us who live with chronic pain are an enigma. The range of emotions and reactions are great in us and toward us. It’s almost impossible for someone else to know how you feel. This can include beloved family members, friends and acquaintances as well as physicians. It is important for us not to judge others for not understanding. Sympathy and empathy can only go so far toward true understanding.
I’ve met more than one male doctor who has given me a bored look as I drone on about my pain and in my mind, I’m thinking, “Hey buddy, I’m a nurse. I know the male anatomy and I know how to hurt you with one good “accidental” jerk of my knee. That would teach you a bit about pain and maybe then you’d listen to me.”
No, I haven’t actually carried out that fantasy. That would be labeled assault and I’m much too refined for that; or am I? Do we often feel rage? Of course, we do. I think it must feel a little like house arrest with the ankle bracelet except we have pain in far more places on our bodies than just one ankle. What do you do when you feel that entrapment?
Here are the best three ideas I have for you if you are entrapped due to a life of chronic pain.
- Keeping in mind the importance of wearing a mask and retaining a safe distance from others, the following really do help. Go out of the house. If you can walk, roll, slide or shuffle, go out onto the porch. If it’s too hot, don’t stay very long. If it’s rainy and cold, don a jacket and a hat. Look around. Check out the neighbors, the traffic or your own or someone else’s flowers or shrubs. Look up at the trees, majestic in their constancy. Observe the birds and see what they’re up to as they display that freedom you long to have. Just take the few steps necessary to get out. Fresh air is revitalizing.
- After a few attempts at this you may feel like walking up the block if you can manage it. Masked, visit with a neighbor, the mailman or a passing dog. If you can drive, go to a mall, a grocery store or a department store but try to do it in the early hours when it is not crowded. Walk in, look around then walk out. If you can or want to buy something, that’s okay but it’s the presence of your fellow humans that you need. When you look around, you are reminded that perfection is rare and most likely a myth, in others as well as ourselves. We’re all grounded by some flaw, some misery or some emotional stress. Life is fluid and it can change drastically from day to day for everyone. You are not alone in this world. We need to often remind ourselves everyone has their challenges.
When you return home, it will undoubtedly look a big cluttered, stinky, maybe dusty and disordered because of the lousy level of energy you’ve been suffering. It’s probably a bit dark. Open a curtain or a blind and let some sunshine in. If you have any energy left, clean one area. You know, it only takes approximately 45 seconds to wash a dirty window and the clean glass will allow more of the outside to come in. One window is all you need to do today. Now you can rest and you will feel better about it. You’ve experienced the stimulation and probable exhaustion of doing something. Welcome back to life. Mother Nature can heal you so give her a chance by watching, savoring and loving all the beauty she has to offer you. The sky, the clouds, a tiny bug, your own pets or the glorious and varied colors of multiple flowers are all gifts for us and bolster what can be a grim lifestyle.
- Take a look at your medical care. If you don’t know much about medical issues you at least know whether or not you are making progress. If your current physician isn’t helping you or even listening to you, consider getting another opinion. It’s nice if you like him/her but it isn’t necessary. The important thing is you are paying for a service. It’s a very important service because your life is important. You matter…say it again, you matter. Your life is ticking away and you need to be getting as much from each day as you can muster. Is this doctor helping you to achieve that? If the answer is no, ask friends, call the local hospitals or go online and find a new doctor. A second or third opinion may surprise you and bring much needed answers. All doctors are not alike. They have differing views about everything, including you. Faint heart never won good health. Now I realize good may be a stretch but livable is possible. Never give up on finding the best quality of life possible whatever your condition may be. First of all, you have to believe in the possibility of recovery on some level. If you can’t see it in your mind, work on that. Status quo can get you into a lot of trouble. Your health doesn’t stand still. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. Which one do you want? You are a living creature and we living creatures need movement, nutrition and stimulation, both mental and physical. We also need love and friendship.
- Reach out to someone else. If your family doesn’t understand, try to explain. So often, our families are the last ones to understand because they are afraid for themselves. Is whatever you have going to affect them? Families don’t like change and think they know you when they don’t know you at all. Your malady may be an inconvenience. It may require them to do more work, live with less income or face change. Nobody likes change…well, that’s just the way life is and often trouble comes without an invitation. I am blessed with a loving spouse and my grown children do try to understand, but, how can they? They don’t live here and see the changes like my dear man does.
Try to find a support group at your local hospital or come online with one of our groups. You need others. You may not realize it right now, but you still have a great deal to give from the depths of that pit you’re in. Others need you. Call an old friend. If they don’t “get it”, or don’t seem to want to hear what you’re going through, move on to another friend or relative. Remember it is not just your life that has been shaken. All humans face hardship, disease or the fall-out from someone’s thoughtless actions. We all have a story to tell. Share yours and listen to theirs. I always felt that way but since writing articles and blogs over the last twenty years I realize this truth more than ever before. It does help to know you’re not alone in your suffering.
You deserve to get out of that trap. Gnaw, chew, fight and educate yourself out of it. Life is too good to be wasted and so are you. Remember you and I are the child of the King and loved by Him. We deserve and should expect a good life. I know it’s difficult not to feel anger and resentment at times. Health is a lotto of sorts as is DNA. I don’t know the why’s but I do know we were promised by our Lord that He would be with us always. Reach out, believe in the power of love and don’t let the destructive emotions of life take over. Reach out, believe and don’t let the lesser emotions of life win out. Take control as much as you can; which is probably more than most of realize when we are in that trap of chronic pain. Adapt but never give up.