When you’ve never experienced chronic pain, there’s a factor to it that you don’t really get. Something that makes it worse than the actual pain itself.
My pain from Willis-Ekbom (restless legs) has been around in some form or another since the 70’s, though it was only diagnosed this century. For most of my adult life – particularly after I was thirty – pain has been a near-constant companion.
And yet I think that I am lucky.
Because my pain is only near constant.
My pain level fluctuates – sometimes dramatically within an hour or two, from a 3 to a 7 to a 2 over two and a half hours. Like it did yesterday.
Sometimes, even later in the same day, it creschendoes to an 8 until finally beginning to ebb around four am. Like it did last night.
And it can persist even past the morning on those days, remaining at a 5 or 6 (on top of the fatigue and everything else) into the afternoon. Like it has today.
Take a second to refer back to the pain-scale-in-words chart.
When I describe the quality of my pain – that it feels like someone slowly pushing a metal chopstick into the space where your leg bones meet your ankle – people usually wince when they imagine it.
And yet I consider myself lucky.
Because my pain ebbs. It even almost goes away sometimes. I can forget about it.
I have too many friends and acquaintances in constant, unrelenting chronic pain. Pain that will not lessen or go away until they die. Pain that will be even worse if they can’t afford their meds, or if their insurance decides to not approve a treatment.
I have something my other friends with chronic pain do not.
So far, with enough medication, I can sometimes get my pain to fade away.
At least I can sometimes forget that I will have this pain every day until I die.
And that is worse than the pain itself.