For many people with medical conditions, chronic pain is a constant, day-to-day companion. It never seems to go unfelt or unnoticed, except to passersby who often see laughter, smiles, and energy, not debilitating pain. The reality of living with and making peace with chronic pain is vastly different from the picture of health the rest of the world may see.
One of the “job hazards” of living with chronic health conditions that cause pain is never knowing what body you’ll wake up in. You could be fine one day and wake up with shooting, burning pain the next. You could feel agile all morning but have a pain flare-up in the afternoon. You could be energetic one day and completely fatigued the next as you fight against your sore body.
It’s strange to feel like you may not fully know your own body amid its unpredictability, but if you struggle with pain, you learn to treat yourself with care and listen to your needs. You discover what your body craves when it’s hurting. You follow through with managing your pain — no matter how much you’d rather be doing anything else — because you don’t want your physical state to disrupt the rest of your day. You learn to be more gentle with yourself, practice self-care and occasionally say “no” when your body’s aching and anything more than staying in bed proves to be too much to handle.
Living with pain is a delicate balance between living with a health condition and purely, simply living. It’s going out some nights and staying in others, alternating between springing out of bed and lying down all day, wincing and working hard, sleeping and staying up. It’s smiling, laughing and enjoying life’s simple pleasures, even when life seems less than enjoyable. It’s inconspicuous, silent normalcy concealed within challenging circumstances.
Helping those of us who live with chronic pain may seem daunting, but it may be far simpler than it appears. See us, listen to us, help us when we ask, and respect our needs. Our pain may seem complicated, but at heart, we’re all typical people, pushing past pain and living life, one day at a time.