Waking Up in Pain: Sharing My Story for Pain Awareness Month

 

Did you know that over 50 million Americans live with chronic pain? 50 million people — in the US alone! Can you imagine how many people there are around the world who are suffering with chronic pain?

September is Pain Awareness Month.

According to the US Pain Foundation, “Organizations across the country come together during the month of September with the combined goal of bringing awareness to chronic pain and highlighting how pain affects individuals, families, communities, and the nation.” This year, their campaign centers around the theme #LetsTalkAboutPain. Please visit https://uspainawarenessmonth.com to learn more and participate.

Pain Awareness Month Logo from https://painawarenessmonth.com

Why is it important to talk about pain? Unfortunately, there’s often stigma or shame attached to chronic pain – we often don’t “look” sick, we may be accused of overstating our pain, we may feel embarrassed because we can’t do the things we “should” be able to do…. – and we may be afraid to speak up.

Here’s the thing though – we can’t expect others to understand if we’re not willing to talk about it.  “…Sharing our stories–whether with loved ones, coworkers, clinicians or policymakers–is essential to creating awareness and positive change.” (USPainFoundation.org)

Like many people who live with chronic pain, although I talk about living with fibromyalgia extensively here, I don’t really like to talk much about it with others. I think there are a few reasons for that: I don’t want to be that person who complains about how I feel, I don’t want them to feel sorry for me, I don’t want people to judge me because they think Fibro isn’t real…. the list goes on and on.

This month, in support of Pain Awareness Month, I’d like to share some of my personal story of what it’s like to live with chronic pain and how I deal with it. These posts may be a little more “raw” than you’re used to from me. Although I try to put a positive spin on things most of the time, I think it’s important, especially for those who provide our healthcare, to have a realistic view of what it means to live in pain every. single. day.

I hope it doesn’t come across as negative, but I realize that parts of it may, so please bear with me.

Today, I’d like to give you a glimpse into how I start my day, and how pain impacts how my day is structured.

Waking Up In Pain

I’ve always been a morning person, but now, mornings are the hardest. I wake up around 6:30 every morning, and there is never a day that I don’t hurt. There are just varying levels of pain. Some days it’s a dull background ache. Others, it’s an “I feel as if a truck ran over me while I slept” kind of pain. Most days my body pain is accompanied by a headache, also at varying intensities.

There are days that I wake up early and just lie there because I just don’t feel I can face the day yet.

Eventually though, whatever my pain level, I get up and head out to our family room to drink my coffee and do my morning quiet time. Some mornings the Fibro Fog kicks in and I can’t concentrate. Other mornings, my mind is just scattered and I’m all over the place, with the same result. Fortunately, though, that’s not always the case. This time gives me a chance to get my morning started gently and positively.

At 8:00, there are usually four big brown eyes staring at me, just waiting for me to make a move toward their food bowls. My “boys” get me up and moving, because they seem to have little watches that tell them it’s time to eat and they’re going to make sure I don’t forget it.

Often, once I’m up and moving around, even though the pain doesn’t go away, it does subside enough for me to feel I can function. Some days it doesn’t, and on those days, I choose to do activities that I can do from my sofa.

After breakfast, no matter how I feel, I get dressed (well, I guess that depends on how you define dressed). If I’m staying home, it’s pretty much always yoga pants and a tee shirt. I don’t wear “real” clothes unless I’m going out in public, because it seems I can never find anything that’s comfortable anymore. For me, though, it’s important to at least get out of my pajamas regardless of how I feel.

I spent about six months practically bedridden, then another year where I still spent a lot of time in bed, and I don’t want to go back there. Getting up and getting dressed keeps me moving forward.

With chronic pain, you wake up in pain and you go to sleep in pain. There’s no getting around that, but learning to accept this new normal and figuring out how to work within my limitations allows me to enjoy my life in spite of my pain.

Although my mornings can be tough, I’m grateful to wake up each morning and know that I have the opportunity to live a life of joy and purpose regardless of my circumstances.

Are you sharing your story for Pain Awareness Month? If you are, please feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments section.

Blessings,

~Terri

38 comments

    1. Thanks for sharing Leigh! I’m sorry you also have to deal with Fibro. If you decide to share your story, please feel free to come back and leave your link. Blessings to you!

  1. You are always leading the way and helping others. Thank you for sharing your personal struggle with pain to help educate others. Being real takes guts. I am so thankful for all you do for others (blogging, prayers, chats, and texts). Love the reference to your pups. They are so well trained 8 am breakfast and 5 pm dinner. What a blessing they are to you and you are to them.

    1. Awww…. thank you so much Sarah! You’re such a blessing to me, more than you even know. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

  2. thank you so very much Terri for sharing part of your story and living with chronic pain. i am so very sorry that you must live this way, but I prayed that you will have more better days than not!

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! I actually consider myself very fortunate, because I have a life that I enjoy with people that I love. Yes, I have to make adjustments and do things a little differently than I used to, but the longer I live with this, the better I’m able to work with it. Sending hugs your way sweet friend. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank so much for your well-wishes Ruth! If you share your story, please feel free to pop back by here and leave your link. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  3. I write about living life with fibro in the new normal.. sometimes about my condition, sometimes just frivolous things that make my life fun in spite of the pain. I like to say I blog about loving a happy life despite the pain but I do talk about it on my blog in honesty because I think it’s important for people to try to get a glimpse and maybe understand.. there are several entries (fibrochic.com) but this was my first and how we are often the unseen..

    https://fibrochic.com/2019/06/16/journey-of-the-unseen/

  4. Brave of you to share your story. I keep a lot of my pain to myself, but I am trying to be more honest about how I am feeling with others. I spent Friday afternoon “resting” because I was going through intense pain. Some of the changes I’ve made to reduce pain have helped, but there doesn’t seem to be any fool-proof cure. There will be pain at times, and I cannot predict when! So I am like you, doing what I can, when I can, and adjusting when I have to. I struggle not to be grumpy or nasty when the pain goes on for a while.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Kit! I think the unpredictability of pain flares is one of the most difficult things to work around…Like you said, you can’t always predict when it’s going to show up. I sure hope your pain settles down some soon. I totally get what you mean about struggling not to be grumpy when the high pain days go on for a while…. I try really hard not to get cranky, but some days I just have to tell my poor hubby that I’m in a rotten mood so he might want to keep a wide berth… Sending very gentle hugs your way sweet friend!

      1. Same to you! And warning others can help, because then everyone is aware of what is going on.

  5. Terri, I’m really glad to have read this post. I didn’t know September was Pain Awareness month. I’ve been meaning to write a post about inflammation and it seems like this might be a good time to do it! I can really relate to your description of rising in the morning – I’m right there with you. Thanks for sharing your post with us.

    1. Thank you so much! This would probably be the perfect time for your post about inflammation. Once you’ve written it, I’d love for you to share the link here. Blessings to you!

  6. Thank you for highlighting pain awareness month Terri. It is good to have those eyes welcoming you each morning and a great start to the day. I am forever thankful that my pain levels are minimal these days.

    1. Thank you so much Brigid! You’re so right about those puppy dog eyes. Those little guys bring me so much joy. I’m so glad to hear that your pain levels are minimal these days. That is such a blessing. Sending hugs your way!

  7. Firstly, I’m so sorry I’m so far behind on blogs so my comment is rather late. Secondly, I think you’ve done brilliantly showing us a glimpse of what pain is like for you, and how your days are shaped by it. Like you, I get dressed but unless I’m going out the dress code is low key and comfort first. I think any little steps you can take to keep yourself mobile can help us all mentally, too. It’s weird because I used to be a morning person, perhaps because of insomnia, and I’d be up and perky at 3am and getting lots done before the world was awake; I can still just about remember what that old Caz used to feel like. Now the mornings are hard, with joints that don’t want to work and muscles that scream, and I don’t think my breathing issues have helped with the foggy and rough feeling. But getting up in such pain in all means that just to sit up in bed is difficult, so we should all be giving ourselves a mental well done every morning because it’s not easy. Thank you for sharing your waking up in pain story, Terri, this is a brilliant idea for Pain Awareness Month  ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz, and thank you for sharing some of what it’s like for you too. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with so much. I agree with you that keeping ourselves mobile can help us mentally as well as physically. Sending lots of love your way dear friend.

  8. I’m so proud of you! Sharing your story! It IS Pain Awareness Month. I need to do a little less cheering and a lot more sharing… about my pain. Guess that’ll be my blog. It is imperative to share our pain. I haven’t, with the people I should and it’s come back to bite me. I really admire this post. I will do my best as well. Bravo, Terri! 😊💜💫

    1. Thanks so much Kim! When you write your post, I’d love for you to come back and leave your link here. Sending hugs your way!

    1. I’m not sure what happened either Jennifer. The same thing happened to me yesterday. I commented on several blogs, but my comments didn’t show up. I thought maybe they went into their Spam folder for some reason. I just checked mine to make sure your comment hadn’t gone in there by accident, but it wasn’t in there. Another one of those weird WP glitches, I guess…. Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for sharing your link. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  9. I am not a morning person, but I have to get going in order to show up for work. Sometimes the brain fog really interferes but I have no choice. I get extra sleep when I can and allow myself time to stretch out and read in order to ease the pain a bit. I too don’t like to talk about it for the same reasons, but sharing among ourselves does help.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! It’s amazing what we can do when we have to, isn’t it? That’s really smart to allow yourself the extra time to stretch and read before you have to head out for work. I admire your strength. Blessings to you!

  10. A great post Terri, with profound comments. I find it’s one thing trying to manage the pain but it’s a whole different ball game for me trying to manage the almost constant tiredness. Any hour I get free of that exhaustion feeling I want to shout with happiness, thankful to feel normal but then the battery light starts flashing and I’ve used up what little energy I’ve had so the pain and exhaustion are back in play again!

    1. Oh Marie, I feel for you, dear friend. I’ve often said I can handle the pain okay most of the time — after all, I’ve been in pain pretty much my entire life — but the unending fatigue is the worst. The fatigue is a major hurdle and can be tricky to work around sometimes. You just don’t know when you’re going to “hit that wall.” I am starting to see some patterns, though, so that helps with pacing so I can get things done. Sending gentle hugs your way!

      1. We learn to work within our boundaries and listen to our bodies as best we can Terri. I’m glad you see patterns emerge, I’m getting there too! Much love to you! Xx

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