As most of you know dear readers I live with a chronic condition – rheumatoid arthritis – I also have bursitis in my right hip. Neither of these conditions are visible so that makes them part of the invisible illnesses that many of us live with every day. This past winter has not been great for me. We have had a lot of humid days and not enough cold, cold days. This has meant that the inflammation in my joints has been at times overwhelming and present All The Time!
This picture is one I sent my best friend and my sister a while ago. My hands were so painful that I was in tears much of that day – therefore the title of this blog. The only thing I can do when this happens is to stop, take some extra pain medications (on top of the other medication I already take) and rest. Which is what I did.
I also live with peripheral neuropathy which was caused by the chemotherapy drugs for my cancer. Not everyone who has chemo has this side effect but I do. It means that my feet have constant numbness. tingling and sometimes excruciating pain. It’s hard not feeling parts of your feet and getting used to always having some kind of shoe on because you can’t feel where your toes are. Again an invisible condition and one that I am learning to cope with.
Here’s what’s been happening lately. I am dealing with a feedback loop of pain between my RA flares and the neuropathy in my feet – which means that sometimes I can barely stand up on my feet and the numbness and tingling begin to go up my legs. Chronic pain is not my friend and it is definitely not the dear one’s friend as he has to pick up the slack of what I can’t do during these times.
Now you may be asking why I am sharing all of this with you. I mean really does anyone else need to know? Obviously I think the answer is yes, but I know others may not. Here are my reasons:
- When I am in pain it becomes very difficult for me to engage with anyone in a good way – whether it is on social media or in real life. I am grumpy and can barely focus on what others are saying to me or asking me to do. So when I get quiet on social media this is why.
- This affects my mental and emotional health – it is hard to stay sunny & energetic when you just want to curl up with a warm blanket and your cat – it is hard to get past the pain. Mostly I do but often I don’t. There is a clear connection between my pain levels and my mental and emotional health.
- Resting because of bad pain days does not mean I am lazy it means that I am taking care of myself. I am saying that here because we all have that voice in our heads that says things like that and I am learning to give myself permission to just stop and take care of me. If I don’t take care of me I won’t have the energy to do the things I am really passionate about.
- So much of what those of us with chronic pain go through is invisible and unspoken. We don’t want to be seen as whining, not strong enough, not together enough. We want to be perceived as independent, strong, capable people and mostly we are, just sometimes we aren’t. I want to be able to ask for help when I need it without the added stigma of incorrect perceptions.
Here I am today, feeling mostly okay. The pain levels are at their most manageable and I have been able to get this blog post done. My commitment to myself is to give me a break and to also give others a break. We are all dealing with stuff and we are all, mostly, doing the best that we can.