It has been a long time coming, . . . , this moment.
First, I realized a new way to explain chronic pain that I must express. So similar to what I have written and told people and doctors before, it is not until a change that things can really be understood, even noticed.
* * * * *
Take your mind back to the last time you were injured, a tweaked knee or twisted ankle may be easiest, but a burn or other injury to a part of your body you use often for daily living can be a substitute. I'll use the twisted ankle as an example, one where you are supposed to remain off of it for as much as possible. It's swollen such that just moving the leg in the air actually causes discomfort and pain. Can you remember? Empathize?
With this hurt ankle, let's say you find yourself alone, even if for just a short time. Let's say you were hungry and hobbled through the pain to the kitchen, made something to eat, poured a drink, and gimped you way back to the couch, carefully balancing your provisions while using furniture and walls for support on the journey. Make no mistake, even just 25 feet from kitchen to couch is a journey. You set down the food on the end table, twist and fall in a pseudo-jump onto the couch so your leg can land raised on the pile of pillows it was supposed to remain elevated upon, and you exhale, somewhat triumphantly, in appreciation of finishing the deed, persevering through the pain, now able to "stay off" the leg as you know you are supposed to.
Then you see the remote control is a good 4 feet out of reach and you will have to get up again.
That is the moment I am talking about. It's the "Oh fuck, I have to go through that again" feeling. You know how much it is going to hurt. You had hoped you were done hurting for at least a little while, only to discovered yourself wrong so soon after thinking you would get a break. You have to struggle through pain, again, and even if it is just for a small task, you want nothing to to with it, but know it is unavoidable. There will be no break. Not yet, anyways.
* * * * *
Living with chronic pain is knowing that feeling ALL THE TIME. There is never a break. You forget breaks from pain even exist. Every involuntary movement brings discomfort, sometimes even severe pain, and often the inability to relax at all is oppressive when you are perfectly still, only breathing. Just being, just the force of gravity upon limbs and the pressure of their weight against the bed is torture enough. Yet, every action you have to take has that same bit of despair, that moment of "not again," constantly as a burden. It is relentless, how it troubles your mind.
This is why you don't want to do anything, go anywhere, even just get out of bed or off the couch, ever.
For me, this has been the last 6 years or so.
Worth noting, I often do appreciate that things are not worse, because I have tasted it, when sick or injured on top of my constant issues. I know there are people living with worse pain, and for a much longer time, than what I suffer, yet I do try to convince myself that I endure through more then many would (suicide being a topic of reoccurring consideration).
* * * * *
Why was I suddenly able to realize this description? I was visited, check that, I am still being visited by an old friend, the ear infection, and another has just managed to start in the other ear as well.
I had not been using any strong pain medication for a few weeks now. Things had been progressing well. I really feel movement getting towards the highest part of my back to the bottom of my neck, and in my shoulders such that I literally feel movement wrap around my arms as it travels down the muscles. Anyways, with such "productivity," I took the progress with the pain.
Then, the ear infection hit day two. I still have ear drops from my last one. Though it has been a while (year or more), I have probably averaged 1-3 a year, sometimes really bad ones. They do, however, trump the chronic pain, making the other parts of my body feel better, relatively speaking. After all, the easiest way to stop feeling the pain in one body part is to hurt another part worse.
But day 2 of the ear infection brought stronger pain, an area of about 3 to 4 inches circling the ear becoming quite sensitive such that even slight jaw movement brought ear pain. So I cracked open the Narco. Without getting into it deeply, I'll admit I had also been avoiding the better pain killers because of constipation issues, having had some bleeding and hemmoroid pain the previous month. So, I also doubled the Miralax dose for my coffee.
About an hour after taking the pill, I could honestly say that I almost felt good. I could have done something. I even wanted to do something. I wanted to go do yard work or wash my car. I didn't, thank God, knowing that the pain meds would wear off soon enough and any increased swelling around my ear would necesitate a higher dose of pain killer just to stop me from screaming, but I actually WANTED to get off the couch and do something. I wasn't burdened. The idea of just standing up no longer seemed an pain filled endeavor.
Sure, the moment did not last. And yes, it was also spoiled by my overactive mind, which approached a mental breakdown over the realization that I had not felt anywhere near decent in 6 or more years (I used to be a "morning person" that would jump out of bed and attack the day's chores). Yet, I finally had a moment, a moment of ease. It has been so long.