Chronic physical pain ... if you've never had it, it's hard to imagine. I can't remember what it feels like to not be in pain, really. Except for the required bumps and bruises, I remember a childhood of not being aware of pain. I remember the emotional pain of being a teenager ... the first broken heart or the first time I was stood up. I remember being a young mother and wanting to take away my children's pain.
As a child I didn't know that my Dad was in chronic pain. Sometime around 1945 he was working as a garbage collector and, as he was jumping up on the running board of the garbage truck, he slipped and fell under it. The truck kept going, and crushed his legs. My grandmother was told that he'd probably never walk again, and medicine being what it was at the time, they did the best they could. After about a year, he did walk, but never again without pain.
My dad was not a complainer. Even when he was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer in 2006, I never once heard him say "Why me?" "It is what it is" he would say. That about sums it up.
I remember one day asking him about his knees ... "Daddy, do your knees hurt today?" "Honey they hurt every day. It's just worse some days than others." I think that's when I first became aware of chronic pain, the first time I knew that it existed. Before that moment, pain was something that came and went.
Except for a very few close friends, I don't like telling people about my pain. There are a myriad of reactions ... there's pity, "Oh you poor thing! My friend Gladys has .... " Then there's "But you don't look sick," or "You're probably just coming down with the flu," or, one of my personal favorites, "If you pray you'll feel better." Sometimes they don't say anything, but their facial expression says it all. "Yeah, right! That's just an excuse."
People can't understand that pain just happens for apparently no reason. But it does. There are days I can't hold a coffee cup. Vaccuumming the house is an olympic event. I was never known for using a lot of sick time, but now I only have 2 sick days left ... since August! I don't know if there's a correlation, but it seems that I catch every cold bug within a hundred yards of me.
Massage helps, but it's expensive and not covered by insurance. Accupuncture does too, but again is cost prohibitive.
Why am I even writing this? Who knows. I guess it's therapeutic. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, I'm not looking for pity. I guess I just want people to know that it's real. It's not something I'm making up to get out of going to that wedding on Saturday, or an excuse for why the floor isn't washed or the windows don't sparkle. I just hurt. It's that simple. It is what it is.