Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Pain Free: An Emotional Journey
When chronic pain is a near constant companion the emotional journey that accompanies any moments without pain is varied.
Anticipation is the genesis. The feeling of waiting for the shoe to drop, because you can't remember a time when it hasn't. You are certain the pain will start, it is simply a matter of when and at what intensity.
Disbelief follows. It may be at the end of the day, or perhaps the start of the next. You pause, perhaps in bed, realizing that you haven't had to medicate. Or that you actually went an whole day without pain as a companion. Or you wake up aware that you just slept an entire night and woke up either because the alarm went off or, even harder to believe, simply because you were ready to wake up. It wasn't pain that nudged you awake, hallelujah!
Joy follows. Wow! A day and/or night without pain! So much to be thankful for. You better have a smile on your face and a spring in your step because these moments are precious and fleeting.
The next emotion I struggle to put a name to. Pressure? It is the notion of feeling that you must use the pain free time to its utmost. The feeling that you have to get x, y, and z accomplished, while you can.
This feeling goes hand in hand with a sense of being torn - torn between wanting to be extra productive and wanting to just be - to kick back and take moments for what they are.
While you are trying to ignore angst of the previous two emotions a thought occurs to you. "Is this what 'normal' people feel like?" Is this what a pain free life is like? I could get used to this!
Analysis. What have I done differently? What do I need to continue to do (or not do) to see if this trend can continue?
This cycle may be moments or hours. If it lasts for days, pinch yourself. Whatever you do, don't do what I did. Don't say anything about it out loud.
Recently days have been strung together, days that don't include pain. I have been through all of the above emotions - several cycles for many of them. Last week I heard myself telling someone how my new medications and lifestyle changes are really helping. How I had been pain free for a little while. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth I thought, "Uh-oh. Have I just jinxed it?!"
I don't really belief in luck or jinxes, but it all seems too good to be true so why not throw the concept of fate in there as well? Then my mother-in-law asked how I was doing. When I hung up the phone I had a feeling my moments were numbered.
Sure enough, within hours, the emotional cycle got the opportunity to go back to the beginning. Well, before the beginning. Now I am waiting for the drugs to work.