When it comes to pain, all you can do is wait for the storm to pass and while you wait, you ride it out. For me, it has been one thing after the other. Towards the end of December, I moved to a new place. Shortly after that, I suppose from packing, unpacking, cleaning, etc., I found myself dealing with a combined RA/fibro flare. My muscles and my joints were inflamed beyond belief and I found myself wondering whether I had ever felt that much pain before. To add to the joint and muscle pain, my eyes were extremely dry and inflamed, my sinuses were inflamed to the point where my nose was constantly bloody, and the lymph nodes in my neck were swollen. But I rode it out and got through it.
I managed to have a few good days before the herniated disc in my back decided to pay a very inflamed visit. I figured it too would pass but it didn’t. Two days later, not only was my low back inflamed so was my neck. The herniated discs in my neck had their turn. The pain and stiffness have been unbearable. I have felt defeated in a way that I had not felt in a long time. I have seen a part of me that I had not seen in three or four years. That part of me was angry and depressed. Pain does that to you because it attacks you from the inside out. I have felt as if I hit rock bottom and I cannot find my way back up.
Because I don’t smoke or drink, I drowned my sorrows in food as I had all those years ago when pain was so debilitating. The difference was that this time I recognized it. I thought about how hard it was to lose just some of the weight I had gained after my diagnoses. I have at lost 35 pounds since last summer and here I was repeating the same bad behavior that had caused me to gain that weight in the first place. I stopped myself before it was too late. I also realized that I was angry and depressed in the same way that I was back then and I did not like that person. So, I did the only think I could do. I acknowledged that I was in pain and that I would just have to ride it out. One day at a time and I would be back to my old self.
Every day I am in pain, I ask God for my life back but my life has been like this for so long that I don’t know what I am asking for anymore. If you have been in pain for such a long time, will you ever not be in pain? Is that even possible? I am only 37 years old. I figure I will be alive for at least another 35 years and I am also going to be in pain for all those years. How can I handle this as I get older and as my RA, fibro, and chronic pain get worse? Lately, I have been dropping things and my hands are shaky and unsteady and that scares me. I want to believe that remission is a possibility but after I got better, I got worse and I don’t see remission a part of my life.
When I pray, I find that I cannot concentrate because of the pain and stress that weighs down on my life and worry that I hold in my mind and my heart. Even in prayer or trying some other relaxation method, it is hard to feel relaxed because of the joint and muscle pain, the stiffness and the muscle spasms. When I prayed today, I conveyed to God that he was the one that understood my ordeal better than anyone and he also understood that when pain is bad, I am in a dark place. I hate being in that dark place. I found myself there the past few days and it feels like I am suffocating.
One of my resolutions for the New Year was to acknowledge my pain and that is what I am doing. It has been easy lately since my pain has been hard to ignore. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully, a better day.
“So how does one keep up the fight? You take it one day at a time. You get up every morning hoping that today is better. You don’t stay in bed and think hopeless thoughts. You live for today, you do what you can and you don’t allow yourself to worry about things getting worse. Be thankful for all the things you have rather than what you don’t have. Strive for the strength and courage to accept chronic illness with self-respect and humility. Take care of yourself and those who love you and support you. Enjoy the beauty of today and don’t spend your days worrying about tomorrow. This is all you can do and this is all any of us can do.”
I wrote those words a while back in a post called “Do I ever feel sorry for myself?” Sometimes, even I need to see those words to recognize that chronic pain is out of my control. The only thing I can control is my reaction. So yes, tomorrow will be better and if it isn’t, the next day will be. I have to be hopeful and I know that things always get worse before they get better.
There is a song by Gary Allan with lyrics, “Every storm runs out of rain. It’s gonna run out of pain. It’s gonna run out of sting…” Eventually, the pain will stop and I will be set free. That pain will eventually run out sting and that is enough hope for me. That is all the hope I have and that is all the hope any of us have. I think we get used to a certain threshold and when we are tested at a higher one, we lose hope. I will be fine once I am back in my comfort zone – whatever that will be after these last two flares.