By Crystal Lindell, Columnist
Some days, I feel like I can finally lift my head above water. Like I can finally take a breath. Or better yet, a couple of deep breaths.
I feel like maybe I finally have this whole chronically sick thing figured out. And, finally, after being in pain for more than two years, I can focus on living the life I want to live. Like just maybe, this whole chronic pain thing isn’t going to win after all.
And then other days, like today, I wish I was dead.
Days when I wake up with an insane amount of pain in my ribs, and a migraine and I have to work because I’m genuinely afraid I’ll lose my job if I call in sick one more time.
Days when I hate my body so much, because it’s like a jail keeping me prisoner and holding me back from the life I once thought I was born to live. And days when I want to push myself, because that’s what I do, I push things, to the limits, and that’s how I have always lived my life.
But then I do that, I push myself, and I do something crazy like go for a walk, or stay up late, or take a shower two days in a row, and then I literally end up spending the next week on the couch in too much pain to function.
Days when all I want to want in the whole world is to lose weight, but instead, because of my stupid body, the only thing I’m allowed to want is relief from the pain. So rather than putting all my resources into losing some of the 50 pounds I’ve gained since getting sick, I have to use all my resources to just sit on the couch and check my email.
I want so bad to worry about regular things, like whether or not my boyfriend is ever going to propose, or whether or not I’ll get that promotion. I want to think about going for a long walk, and just worry about the weather.
But my body won’t let me. Instead, I have to worry about whether my boyfriend will, or should, stick it out with someone who is so radically different than the healthy, much thinner girl he first met almost 5 years ago. I have to worry about just keeping my job. I have to worry about whether my body has had enough time to recuperate from the walk I took three days ago to allow me to blow dry my hair.
Being sick every day of your life is so much worse than anyone ever tells you. It’s so much harder than anyone can ever explain.
That’s the thing, really. There’s no “talk” with the doctor when you have chronic pain. A medical professional doesn’t pull you into his office, hand you a box of tissues and say, “I’m so sorry to tell you this, but you have chronic pain.” That conversation never happens.
Instead, they scan your test results, say something about sending you to a pain specialist and then they go on with their life, while you’re left holding the pieces. Or worse, they say, “At least you don’t have cancer.”
Everything is suddenly different, but nobody has the decency to tell you that. They just ship you off to another doctor and hand you some opioids.
But your life has been changed forever.
There’s the constant, daily battle with the pain, and the insane side effects from the drugs you use as weapons. There’s the loneliness and the feeling of failure that comes from being stuck on the couch in pajamas all day, every day, even on Easter. There’s the assault on your faith, and the outright attack on your ability to hope. And there’s the way your brain goes crazy just trying to understand how you’ll ever endure like this forever.
There are other days though. And on those days, for a second, you almost feel like you’ve got a handle on the situation, like you’ve got your head above water.
Today just wasn’t one of those days.
Crystal Lindell is a journalist who lives in Illinois. She loves Taco Bell, watching "Burn Notice" episodes on Netflix and Snicker's Bites. She has had intercostal neuralgia since February 2013.
Crystal writes about it on her blog, “The Only Certainty is Bad Grammar.”
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.