Sometimes my pain is all consuming and other times it plays in the background like a bad song that won’t end. When a new issue pops up, I straddle two worlds. The first is my hour-to-hour existence. The second is my larger picture. It’s a balance between deciding what I need to do to make it through this moment and what will create a better tomorrow. On top of that, there are episodes and flares that take the life out of you. They make you contemplate death as a blessing and narrow the light of possibilities until it only shines on dangerous options. I understand getting to that level. This isn’t a piece about ignoring that reality. It’s just about a few days that didn’t break me.
Since I have multiple medical conditions, fairly often I’m trying to make it through the day while experiencing very different types of pain. Each pain and symptom has it’s own timeline, intensity, feeling, and location. They don’t pair well or knock the each other out. Nope. They all yell throughout the body like misaligned church bells. Paying attention to the issue that is most acute and interfering – it’s the only way to survive. Take it one stab at a time.
I hung a mirror. Not a big deal for most people. It wasn’t especially heavy or awkward. I found a spot on my wall. Measured; centering for levelness, of course. The mirror needed to be hung with screws instead of nails. I have a basic tool set, nothing fancy or electric. So, I put on a pair of padded gloves that I use for really bad hand days and got to work. Muscling my way into the drywall, I got both screws in and secured the mirror. Job done! I was happy to accomplish a physical task on my own.
That night I began to feel an unusually deep ache in my shoulder and hands. I knew why. I had applied almost my full body weight’s worth of pressure to get those screws into the wall. Now, I was paying the price. I put some lidocane patches on my hands and carefully maneuvered my shoulder into a sling in case it was slipping out of the socket. I couldn’t sleep that night. The pain was too intense. The knives attacking my hands started to dull the second night. However, my shoulder/arm ramped up the aching. I did all my usual tricks, took some over the counter pain medications, and spent another sleepless night trying not to cry.
Forty-eight hours with no sleep and a severe pain that limited mobility of my arm, I still needed to meet my obligations. I still needed to go about my life. Plus, I needed to cope with my omnipresent daily symptoms. And I did. I did what we all in the chronic illness and pain community do… I put on my face and took care of business.
As that day crept along, I marveled at the fortitude we display. Here I was, another day filled with symptom management, when I’m roiled over by a new pain. Yet somehow, I don’t give up. I feel my sadness and anger, and I move forward. I keep going with the knowledge that I‘ve been battling an invisible war for nearly a decade. This peripheral fight won’t be the one that dismantles me.
While the shoulder pain was fading my migraine kicked up. Aggravated by tiredness, the migraine decided to, once again, reign supreme. I dealt with it and hoped for a few days of regular suffering. But, a bent body loves weakness. The migraine went away just as I developed a cold. Push. Push. Push. Keep pushing through until that blissful day when you are back to “normal”. It happens, eventually.
That’s where I am right now. I made it back to my baseline. I’ll let myself rest for the day. I’ll do the bare minimum and tomorrow I will feel good, grateful even.