I’ve lived with chronic pain for 15 years. It started when I had an accident and badly damaged my knee.
Initially the raw physical pain was extreme, but over the years it has improved, with better management and self awareness.
I still have flare ups when the pain is severe, along with periods where the pain is more mild. But the reality is I live with a background level of pain every day.
My condition is called fibromyalgia. The pain is usually in my back, shoulders and hips, but it can be anywhere.
There is also a cognitive component to the disease, which can leave me feeling fuzzy in my head and fatigued.
Any elevation of stress makes the pain worse so I have to carefully manage myself, especially as I run my own business.
There are times when I have trouble getting on top of the pain, which means I have to pare down my clients, and that adds a layer of financial pressure as well.
Along with the pain I have depression. I take medication for that and it does help.
Lack of sleep due to pain causes its own set of problems, and occasionally I take strong painkillers for a period of three or four nights, to get some rest.
For the most part, I find a mix of glucosamine and fish oil taken together, makes a significant difference to my pain.
I have a great support network around me, and a very understanding partner, which really helps. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult accepting people’s help.
Because of chronic pain, I need to manage my schedule very carefully. Before going out with friends, I consider what work I have over the next few days, and plan my activities accordingly. A day out would mean I’d need the next day to recover.
I recently participated in a pain management education course, and it was great because it normalised my experience. At the same time, I don’t want to be weighed down by thinking about chronic pain all the time. I just want to focus on living life.