For today, let me take you on a tour. This is no ordinary tour, no art masterpieces or stunning mountain vistas, no historic alleys or monuments. Instead, I am giving a tour of my pain.
Yes, you heard right. A tour of my pain. After a week of answering “How are you?” with “I’m doing really great” and everyone automatically assuming this means I am 100%, healthy, cured, and able to go like the Energizer Bunny, it is time to take everyone on this tour.
This is not meant to be a gripe session. I hate complaining. This is meant to be a reality check for my loved ones. When you live with what many term “invisible illness”, your daily reality of what is a good day and a bad day is completely different from the average healthy person. My good day means I am successfully managing my condition and pain enough to be productive at work, stay on top of chores at home, and pursue some of my hobbies. But I am still in pain, still fatigued, still unable to pursue the crazy multi-tasking life of modern America. My reality is different from yours.
So let’s commence with this brief tour of the pain I am experiencing at exactly this moment in time on a “great day”.
– My mind is surrounded by a threatening fog, hovering in the recesses and waiting to strike. This means I’m thinking very clearly for me, but still need to write down everything to make sure I don’t forget something important. I can read and engage in critical thought and make decisions, but I can’t do so in an environment of information-overload. I need a calm, quiet environment to be able to focus.
– My neck aches. Most of my pain and stress centers here. It’s a pulsing, throbbing kind of ache.
– Just sitting in my chair, I don’t feel pain in my shoulders, but if you lightly push on them, sharp pains will cascade throughout my back and neck.
– There is a spot in the middle of my back that is actively throbbing.
– My lower back is experiencing a fatigued pain – even sitting up takes too much effort sometimes and all the pain of that effort channels into my lower back.
– Every time I take a flight of stairs, my knees and joints complain.
– My feet experience sharp pains in the arches.
Thank you for taking this short tour with me. Hopefully this helps illustrate what a “great day” is for me. Now imagine a “bad day”. This is my reality. I share this not to make everyone feel bad or pity me; I share this so the next time I say I need to take it easy for an afternoon or weekend, I don’t have to explain myself. I never want to feel guilty for managing my condition so that I can have the best quality of life that is possible.