Living with chronic pain

This has been on my mind since I saw my Dr last week.  He asked me to rate my average pain per day on a scale of 1-10.  And I had  hard time doing that.  It’s not that I don’t know, I live with pain.  Day in, day out.  Day after day.  For years.  And getting worse.

And it’s not that I don’t realize that he needs a metric to gauge whether what we’re doing is having any effect.  I do.  I just wonder if he has any idea what it actually means.

Let’s say that I tell him my average pain is about a 3, but it’s Fall and I’ve been canning.  Being on  my feet all day really hurts my back, so lately I’ve been about an 8. He nods, expressionless.

And I think; “he’s thinking that his back hurts after a busy day at the clinic, too.  So what?”

I wonder if he realizes that his 8 is my 3.  That I have a whole different scale since my back started deteriorating and crushing my sciatic nerve.  Does he know that lying on the cold table, perfectly still, for a 1/2 hour for the MRI had my back cramping like a runner’s calf.  And that I had to get up, get dressed and walk out of there afterwards?

I say that it hit a 9.5 one night and we cancelled going to our best friend’s house for dinner because I couldn’t face the 45 minute drive.  He agrees, something needs to be done to lower my pain.  So…. calm.  I want to yell at him that I cancelled dinner because with every step a streak of pure agony ripped up my thigh into my belly and lower ribs.  That there were tears in my eyes every time I shifted position on the couch.  That I slept fitfully because every time I shifted my legs, I was jolted awake by the pain.

He nods as I debate telling him what it’s really like.  That I cancelled dinner because I couldn’t bear the thought of my friend seeing me cry in pain.  Not because of my feelings, but because she would feel so helpless, so driven to help and so utterly powerless against my pain.  I couldn’t do that to her.

I can’t face showing my husband how bad it hurts to stand up to make dinner, or wash dishes, or the agony that is moving wet clothes to the dryer, because it would break his heart to be unable to fix it for me.

But nothing can get better if the Dr thinks that what he’s doing is working, so I try to tell him.  How my leg can be both numb and shooting spikes of pain at the same time.  How my leg goes numb if I stand even for a few minutes.  How my ribs burn from trying to compensate for my numb leg and my aching back.  How it really is possible to have the dimples in your butt hurt if it’s a bad day.

And it’s all invisible.  If I don’t limp, or look like I’m dying of pain, and I am actually pretty stoic about pain (I have been in chronic pain for over 20 years) then people assume I’m not in pain.  Or just give lip service without seeming to have any clue.  If I try to explain, I’m whiny.  If I don’t complain and suck it up, I have several days of pain to look forward to.

So what to do?  I am tired and giving up for tonight.  Maybe someone out there can give me an idea of how to explain chronic pain without whining.


One thought on “Living with chronic pain

  1. Pamela Daw says:

    gentle hugs… I love you and that is all. You are right I wish I could do something but I know just being there, either physically or in “spirit” helps. It helps to know you are loved even in those darkest moments of the night when you are alone with your pain.

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