Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Worst Things About Chronic Pain

This one's sort of a bummer - you've been warned.  I'm working on a companion piece called "The Best Things About Chronic Pain" which, surprisingly, has been harder to write that this one was.

Guilt


Oh, the guilt is definitely number one.  This might be just me as I seem to have an overactive sense of guilt (and I'm not even Catholic).  I feel guilty for not getting enough treatment early enough for my lawyer to realize that this shit was serious.  I feel guilty for settling and not going to trial.  I feel guilty for not working and being a financially-dependent lump.  I feel extra guilty for not cooking or cleaning regularly when I literally do nothing all day long.  I feel guilty for not choosing more aggressive treatment.  I feel guilty for racking up so many medical bills.  I feel guilty for not somehow preventing the car accident that did this to me.  I feel guilty for bumming out the people around me with my inability to be fun and my general whininess.  You get the idea.


Waking Up


Waking up is hell.  I think it's something about being half asleep that makes all physical sensations so much stronger.  That, plus a full night of hardly moving and plenty of time for my pain meds to wear off.  The first thought in my brain every morning is "Wow I'm in a lot of pain."  Eventually this gets better as I get up and move around.  Stretching my muscles and distracting myself with breakfast and getting my brain thinking about other things makes a huge difference.  Usually.  But sometimes it doesn't get better and it turns out I'm just going to have a horrible day.  Waking up is usually extra hard because I can't sleep without taking something.  Basically I can't remember the last time I woke up and didn't immediately hate everything.


Sleeping (Or Not)


Sleeping with chronic pain is a joke.  If it happens unmedicated, it's probably short-lived and full of tossing and turning (or whatever the slow, careful version of that is called).  Lying flat in a bed activates an extra level of nerve pain that kindof feels like your whole body is slowly burning from the inside.  And it feels like moving or stretching or something will help and sometimes it helps a little but mostly it doesn't.  It's often easier to just get up and go do something else.  Which leads to a condition of unwanted nocturnalism reminiscent of college.  The weirdest thing is that it's so much easier to fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the afternoon than it is to fall asleep at night in bed.


Surprises (aka Chronic Pain Is Like a Box of Chocolates)


Some days are great and some are complete hell and you never know what you're going to get.  There's no way to plan for it.  I can have a few great days and make plans for the next day and then that day turns out to be a mandatory couch day and all my plans are ruined.  I very often spend my good days doing fun things, thinking that I'll have time to scrub the shower and catch up on the laundry later, only to wake up on cleaning day feeling like I got run over.  Every day is a new adventure, pain-wise.


"Pressure"


I don't know at what point the medical community decided that "pressure" was the politically-correct word for pain, but they should have alerted the rest of us.  FYI, pressure is not what you feel during a spinal injection, just like pressure is not what women feel when they give birth.  There may be pressure, but mostly we call it pain.  That's the accepted vernacular for "this horrendous and unpleasant sensation that makes me want to scream and punch people."  Honestly, at some point calling it "pressure" is just lying.


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