Something has been on my mind lately. (Well, something is always on my mind! I can’t help that.) I’ve been mulling this certain thing around in my head for nearly a week now. I have to write about it to get it out of my brain!!
A friend of mine, read something I had posted on Facebook about chronic pain issues. She messaged me about it. She said she had read several things I had posted about chronic pain and chronic illnesses, and even some personal things about my own situation. She said she couldn’t help but notice how focused I was on my pain. Immediately, I felt defensive.
HER: Why are you always focused on your pain?
ME: Because my pain is a huge part of my life. Everything I do or don’t do is based on my pain level.
HER: If you just forget about it you’d be happier.
ME: How do you know I’m not happy?
HER: Because you always seem to complaining about your pain.
ME: You ain’t even heard complaining yet!! I save that for my therapist.
HER: You see a therapist and you still focus on your pain?
ME: Yes, I see a therapist. She has been very helpful in teaching me how to deal with my pain and other issues.
HER: What other issues?
ME: That’s none of your business.
HER: Ok. I still think if you’d just stop focusing on your pain, you could live a better life.
ME: You have no idea, and you never will until you are faced with a chronic illness, how hard it is to even get out of bed on some days. You will never understand that just taking a shower sometimes takes all the energy you have for that day. You don’t realize how much time it takes to do any given task because of your pain. You have no clue how depressing it is to not be able to just go and do the things you have always enjoyed, such as hiking, site-seeing, playing at the park or going to the zoo with the kids/grand kids, making bath products, fishing, shopping for hours on end at the Mall, planting a garden every Spring, rearranging the furniture, volunteering, washing the car, holiday celebrations, birthdays, cooking, going to the movies…. You don’t have a clue! When you have a chronic illness, your entire life changes! Everything is different. You approach things differently. You do everything differently. I hope to God, you never have to know what it’s like to have chronic pain!
HER: Isn’t it just arthritis?
ME: (Seriously wanting to punch her in the face!) It’s not JUST arthritis! It’s arthritis in my entire lower body, from my hips all the way down to the joints in my toes. It’s a degenerative disk in my spine and arthritis working it’s way up. It’s arthritis in my fingers, that gets bad when it’s extremely cold and even worse if I don’t crochet every day. It’s arthritis, that has resulted in knee bone damage with severe pain! I walk with a cane because sometimes I am very unsteady on my feet. I can’t sit, stand, or walk for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. I am in pain 24/7. I get NO relief! I don’t even sleep well due to the pain!!
I hit send on the messenger….but I wasn’t done. I had to stop this conversation.
ME: Don’t say anything. You are seriously coming close to ending this friendship. I’m done with this conversation.
That was the end of it…. I haven’t heard squat from her since. That’s ok because I don’t need the drama. I have enough to deal with.
Honestly, if you don’t have a chronic illness, then you will never understand completely. You can try. You can also try to be more understanding of those who DO have a chronic illness. They really could use your support.