For those of us who suffer from Chronic Pain we have those days where the pain just grips you. It doesn’t matter in what position you sit, if you lie down or what medications you take, the pain has locked its’ claws into you. I call it “A Pain Spiral”. A type of pain that is so bad that it will not go away, regardless of what you do. Making the struggle not only physical but emotional.
These are the moments that feel the most helpless. You can’t get rid of it. Suggestions to just lie down or rest are offered, but all that does is make you stationary and in pain. You are sick of resting, sick of doing nothing, sick of being sick.
The daytime seems the easiest, because there are distractions. There are clothes to wash, dishes to do, meals to make and other chores that will take over your mind for a bit.
The nighttime is the worst. Isolation in the dark and quiet night, while the household is sleeping. You don’t want to disturb them, but at the same time you want them to wake up so you won’t be alone. The clock ticks by and you see 2:30am, then 3am then 4am. Counting the hours to an appropriate time of the day to be awake.
Watching TV helps for a bit to help distract from the pain. Sometimes reading is helpful, but can be extremely difficult. The slow burning and throbbing cascades and sweeps through the body, letting you know it is taking over your system. It takes significant energy and will to focus on the story in front of you.
Then you think, ok, I will try meditation. So, deep breathes, slowly inhale, slowly exhale, count backwards from 100. Focus on a part of the body that is injured and will it to heal. Concentrating so hard on it that you literally are squeezing your face.
Lack of sleep and gnawing pain bring on sadness. Sadness and desperation; thinking, just a few more minutes and then it will stop. It has to stop, it will stop….but it doesn’t.
Medication has been taken, but it doesn’t even leave a dent. Massage therapy assists some of the immediate pain, but sometimes it acts as a trigger that will set off more pain. Acupuncture relieves pain for a second but for some reason, it has triggered more pain in a different location.
Those who have not suffered from pain, have no empathy for this. It is impossible to understand unless you have been there; increasing the chasm between you and everyone else. Without sleep your ugliest personality traits start to appear. Crankiness and short tempered responses come out to those around you. It is hard to concentrate and focus. The fatigue starts to set in and this too makes the pain increase.
The only way to overcome this is to succumb to the pain. To just fall in and wait. Have faith it will stop, the system just starts to calm down. Time and patience. Although it doesn’t feel like it, it seems that with time the pain will fade. Sleep finally puts its’ blanket over you and welcomes you to rest. Once the peace has finally come, something has chipped at the pain wall. A little more rest here and a little more of the wall comes down, until finally it is at a manageable level.
At one point your body will just release and allow the relief to exorcise the pain. It will be over and you will feel tired, then exhausted and then peaceful.
The only way to describe it to someone else is like this. “when you have something sharp in your eye. The burn is there, you can’t think of anything else. People are yelling “rinse your eye out, pull your top eyelid over the bottom one”. All you can think of is ‘get it out, get it out’. You start to panic because what is it doing? Is it scratching your cornea, is it going to infect me, what is it going to do. You hide your face, so people won’t know what you have done. You look to someone near you to help you and they can’t. Panic gets higher as you realize you are alone with this. Finally, it gets out and you pause look at the offending invader. Your eye is still burning, watery and sore. A feeling of relief and exhaustion come over you and you take a deep breath and sigh.
If you have any tips or stories about the times that Pain has gripped you, please share them. Any ideas, coping mechanisms or strategies that have been successful are welcome.