Chronic Snarkopolist: The Art of Living in Pain
Hello my loves!
I recently thought about how I have addressed chronic pain as a caretaker of family members with cancer. And I thought about how I engage in chronic pain management in myself. I have even cried in front of my friends because of pain.
The science of pain management is not well understood and it is not well handled by the fractured healthcare parties in our country. There are many ways to handle it and yet, when we are in pain, it is best to address it because pain becomes a habit the body learns.
When people wear insulin pumps and it gets too low or too high an alarm goes off alerting them and the people around them. They can test their blood. With pain there is no alarm for PAIN. There may be blood indicators for disease and x-rays that indicate a break. But nothing says, “Yes- your pain is THIS HIGH TODAY” or “your joints are THIS SWOLLEN TODAY.”
And – even so, when I have to take it easy, I feel apologetic. I might be the slowest one in a group of fast (or normal speed walkers). I might miss the bus or train or have to walk slowly down or up stairs. People might have to wait on me and I feel GUILTY. I often worry that people will begin to resent me. And… I worry that the resentment over catering to ME AND MY SLOWNESS (or my needs) will build up. I’m being both practical and honest when I admit this.
You can only miss so many trains or look for elevators before you just annoy people. Or- your mood can only take so many swings from the pain (or you cry in front of your friends) before you are considered a lose cannon. THIS is why I usually don’t answer the phone when I feel my worst. But sometimes I get caught out with it. Then I have to say, “I’m hurting. I’m in pain. I feel bad. Thanks for the love and support.”
And yes, it has caused conflict in relationships. I have asked “too much” of people. I have asked for support they cannot give. I have asked for a hug when someone does not feel like giving one or a phone call or reassurance that it will be OK when people simply do not feel like giving it. And it HAS overwhelmed things. And this becomes for me a balance of forgiving myself for being human and forgiving them for being the same. I have lost people who cannot give to me and they have lost me. It has been emotional pain on top of physical pain.
But how often can one person do that? How often?
I have lived my entire life working to be MORE than a woman with illness. More than my pain. MORE than someone who has an illness identity… yet… guess what. Sometimes it happens.
Once – when I was taking an improv workshop a wise woman said of our body centered workshop that our characters would simply be informed by whatever happened to us. We walked around the stage and let our CHARACTERS BE WHO THEY WERE. I suddenly was a character but I was still in pain. The pain didn’t let me JUMP. My character didn’t jump either. My character was NOT in pain. It was in this moment that I began my “great performances” where I just lived my life.
I can DO life anyway.
Max (who always had great hair) taught me to keep on in spite of pain. She had endured multiple spine surgeries, had a spine pump, and was on numerous pain medications. She would come to my house in makeup and with her hair done. She was economically spent, but she was energetically amazing. Even on her awful days she would MAKE ME get up, get dressed, and LEAVE MY HOUSE even for 20 minutes. She knew that extraverts NEEDED to be around people.
She knew that we start to die inside without attention and talk and that dressing up is OUR WAY of saying “FUCK YOU PAIN.” And so she made me wear cute clothes, get cute haircuts and color, and wear awesome lipcolor – EVEN ON MY WORST DAYS. It is why I wear funky glasses. I do it because Max (who always had great hair) taught me that saying FUCK YOU to pain was not about anything other than LIVING LIFE ANYWAY.
Pain won’t go away. Life is still there. So I live. I cry. I have awful moods. And I hope that my friends love me even when I do it all badly and mess up. It is work to move through life as a human but it is an art to do it chronically ill and in pain.
How do you handle it when your life is not what you want? How do you deal with pain or problems when you are feeling your worst and you have no real strategy other than keeping on and doing it anyway? Please tell me. I must know!
I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!