Chronic Pain

I ache.  Everyday, I ache.  I’m sore all the time, everywhere.  My legs hurt.  Hurts to walk. Hurts to sit. Hurts to stand.  My shoulders hurt at times – sometimes to the point where I cannot even brush my own hair or lift my arms overhead.  My stomach aches.  I am constantly in a state of “pain,” it’s mostly acute, but it’s so often that it could be chronic. Listening to me, I sound like an old lady with a bunch of aches and pains.  Just me reading this description makes me think of an old lady with chronic ailments, and I laugh.  I’m talking about myself though.  I relish in my body’s soreness.  I would only rate my stiffness and soreness a 1-2 on a 0-10 pain scale.  I don’t complain about how slow I move because I am moving, and in reality, I don’t move slow at all.

I am a nurse.  I’ve seen and cared for people who come into the ER with complaints of “chronic pain.”  It’s mostly women who come in, late 20’s, early 30’s or 40’s, who have generalized body pain, tenderness to their joints, muscles, tendons, and what not.  These women always have chronic body aches and stiffness, and most times they also have chronic migraine headaches, and even depression. It’s so bad at times for these women that they are not able to function – they can’t take care of their families, nor can they go to work, and at times cannot even take care of themselves.  It’s so sad to watch these women come into the ER accompanied by their young children who appear to be taking care of their mother.  That’s the hardest part for me.

Here is what I can tell you though … The women that I have been taking care of, who come into the ER ALL THE TIME, we call them “frequent flyers,” “repeaters,” and other things like that.  I can tell you that these women are getting younger, and YOUNGER … Seriously, the youngest I have cared for so far has been 15 years old.  FIFTEEN!!!  These women know how to put up a very LOUD fuss – at times sounding like a cross between a laboring or actively dying cow, and I don’t know what.  They’re allergic to every medication except for certain “special” narcotics and anti-emetics.  And it’s sad.  Sad because we in the medical profession know that there is a diagnosis that Doctors give to their patients when they don’t know what the fuck is wrong with them!  It’s a joke to us.  Seriously, it’s a bullshit diagnosis.  Don’t get me wrong, there may well be something “wrong” with these patients, however, we just don’t know what it is. It drives me beyond crazy to medicate these individuals with some hardcore narcotics.  There is NO medication in the world that can cure these individuals.  Some of these women demand, DEMAND narcotic doses that would kill a horse!

Now … Let me tell you about me … I am a 40 something year old woman who is always in some kind of pain.  Seriously, not a day has gone by since the day that I was born that I can remember waking up completely pain free.  Well, okay, maybe since I was in 4th grade, not since birth. I am an athlete and everyday some part of my body aches.  My shoulders from doing shoulder presses.  My chest from push-ups.  My glutes and hammies from squats, squats, and even more squats.  My legs in general from running.  I have had really bad plantar fascitis so my feet hurt or ache.

Sometimes, one must go thru pain, in order to heal. Ice baths HURT!!!

There are days when I cringe to just even brush my hair or teeth, or walk slower than normal and look “funny” doing so.  Some days it hurts to sit, or hurts to stand.  Something – always something.  But what do I do about these aches and pains? Nothing.  99% of the time, I do nothing.  Okay, okay … I use a lot of ice and Biofreeze or Ben Gay.  On a rare occasion, I will take a Tylenol or a couple Motrins.  But most days, I do NOTHING … I suck it up and keep moving.  I still take care of my family.  I still go to work. And … AND I still go and workout, regardless.  I will workout thru pain.  I push my little body quite hard.  I push it so hard and expect so much from it.  I am seriously thankful that my little body can take quite a beatin’ and continue to support me everyday.  My little body is STRONG!  It’s rewards? Well, now instead of doughy, sugary treats such as a donut or cake that I would really enjoy … I remind my little body that it’s rewards are the thighs that don’t rub together to try and start a fire, or the shoulders that are shapely, the calves that are TDF (to die for), and a body that’s going to last me for a very LONG time.  I remind my body that it is healthy and strong, much healthier and stronger than so many young people.  I remind my body that it is rewarded with an occasional massage, monthly Chiropractic visits to my

I call this the “Hell-Row-ser” look … It’s my daughter messin’ around while I’m being treated with accupuncture.

favorite Chiropractor, and weekly visits to my Accupuncturist. I live with “chronic” pain – mostly in the form of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and minor annoying injuries.  It’s all in my head.  All of it.  I do this to myself.  I do it because I like this kind of self-torture.  I love the feeling that my muscles are sore and tore up.  I do it because it actually makes me feel alive. Call me a masochist, it’s okay.

So … I guess if I whined enough, I could sound like a woman with “chronic pain syndrome.” I have some empathy for these women.  I know it’s not fair or even nice to compare myself with someone who is “sick” when here I am with my crazy aches and pains.  I mean, I would not know what to do with myself if I physically were debilitated to the point where I could not workout, or move, or do anything except lay there.  I would fall into a deep depression.  I would feel somewhat suicidal.  I would feel sick – possibly so sick that it would cause me to be even sicker.  I workout as an outlet for myself.  I workout to keep my body in good condition.  I workout to look good, feel good, to be able to eat what I wish.  I do not wish sickness or disease on anyone … I sometimes wonder how these women got to the point where they can no longer function.  They cringe at me when I suggest exercise to help them, and they literally cringe and balk at the mere suggestion of a short walk.  It’s quite amusing and very frustrating at the same time because I feel as if I’m wasting my breath as they seem to like their life as it is.  They must be getting something from it.  It’s as if they have given up on themselves and  on life in general.  I refuse to be one of those people. I would never wish this painful life on anyone, ever.

I really have no words of wisdom for anyone.  I was just sitting here in an ER full of patients whose complaints were “Generalized All Over Body Aches” when I was aching and could barely move without cringing myself.  Then I thanked God that I was achy, that I could feel, that I had feeling in my limbs, that I could run, jump, lift, push, pull, punch, kick … because it means that I am alive and moving. Here’s my prescription for you …

When I have no other words, this is what comes to mind as to what I’d really like to say …

**It’s not my intent to hurt anyone’s feeling, or to demean anyone because of their chronic pain.  I truly do have empathy for people, and as I said, I would never, NEVER wish this on anyone.  In all seriousness, I do understand, and I do only wish health and happiness for all of my patients. If I have offended you, I apologize wholeheartedly.**

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