Today has been one of those days.
I woke up this morning feeling as if someone had beaten me up as I slept. I tentatively opened my eyes, grabbed for my glasses, struggled to pull myself up out of bed and slowly waddled into the living room.
I just knew how this day would turn out.
Drew handed me a coffee and I swallowed down three pills – codeine and celecoxib – sat on the sofa, and eagerly awaited some relief. I waited. I took out a guinea pig to cuddle (great therapy) and waited.
Days like these are frustrating.
The most frustrating thing about chronic pain is its unpredictability. Of course there’s particular activities that are bound to aggravate my back pain – and annoyingly standing/sitting too long is one such ‘activity’ – but sometimes the pain just comes out of nowhere.
I must admit though, I don’t always help myself.
For years I didn’t really face up to the pain issue. I’d do things without thinking and then suffer the consequences. I’d go out shopping in town all day and deal with the fact I’d be up all night in agony.
It didn’t occur to me then how destructive this was.
For some reason, I seemed content with punishing myself. I’d blame myself for having ’caused’ the pain, and then tell myself I had to deal with it. Although I’ve been prescribed analgesia since I was thirteen, I did anything to avoid using it. The pain was ‘my fault’ and ‘my problem’, and I wasn’t going to take the ‘easy’ option by taking some painkillers.
Incredibly destructive (and completely untrue).
I’m not sure when my attitude changed with regards to taking medication (although Drew will probably tell you I’m still incredibly stubborn when it comes to this) but one thing that hasn’t completely changed is pushing myself.
Let me explain.
Yesterday I went into university and got out a couple of books from the library. I put these into my handbag, and decided to walk home.
On the way home I pass lots of shops. I rang up Drew (I was feeling peckish) and asked if I needed to pick anything up. We needed milk, so I popped into a shop, grabbed a basket and some milk.
There were so many things on offer I just couldn’t resist having a look and more and more items ended up in my basket. I got to the till, paid and walked out of the store feeling grateful for the wonder that is Heron Foods (and its vast selection of biscuits)
I decide to walk the rest of the way home despite the fact I felt like my shoulder was being pulled out of the socket. I had bought far too much but I was already halfway there…besides, asking Drew to come and meet me would be a huge inconvenience.
I continued to walk home whilst struggling – having to stop every couple of pages to catch my breath – and still this wasn’t ‘enough’ to ring Drew for a bit of assistance. I finally made it home, looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. Breathlessly, I rang the doorbell and stumbled through the front door, collapsed on the sofa and moaned about my throbbing spine.
Drew made sure to remind me how ridiculous I’d been.
This kind of thing happens far too often. I don’t know why I do this; I know it makes absolutely no sense at all, and of course I ended up paying for it for the rest of the day.
Pacing is a phrase banded around a lot in the spoonie community (see here) and consists of prioritising activities ensuring you don’t run out of energy by doing too much at once. I’m all too aware of this but I haven’t really grasped it yet.
I’m 22 and always want things done now.
It’s difficult to accept that sometimes things have to be done differently, and right now I feel like I’m taking one step forward and three steps back. I think that’s why I’m really struggling. I am trying to get better, but sometimes I really can’t help myself; I can’t shake the desire to be ‘normal’, to not worry about my every activity and how it’s going to affect me.
It’s such a vicious cycle, because my depression and anxiety fluctuates when I’m like this. I really really need to learn.
I’m currently curled up on the sofa wrapped up in a blanket, dosed up on codeine cuddling my guinea pigs and wondering when I’ll change my attitude for good and realise I need to look after myself a whole lot more.
I hope it’s soon.