(Note: This was written a few weeks back now.)
‘But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.’
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
I equate pain to hunger; when hunger is intense, it’s omnipresent and demanding but once one has eaten their full, it’s hard to remember what that hunger felt like. Though I suspect that those who have experienced genuine starvation might always be troubled by the memory of that experience and it is similar with chronic pain.
When it is intense, pain is omnipresent and demanding like a troop of monkeys that follow you around all day screeching, crashing cymbals and revving chainsaws. It makes it hard to think, it shortens the temper and studies are showing that chronic pain not only causes depression and anxiety issues but that there can be more permanent changes to the very way the brain functions.
Fields […] described the psychological effect of chronic pain as “the clouding of the future. There’s no escape from it. You want it to end, but it doesn’t.” As a result, people become pessimistic and irritable, he said. “People come to expect the next day is going to wind up being painful. It just takes the edge off of life’s little pleasures — and big pleasures, for that matter.”
– From this article describing the brain mechanism behind chronic pain’s depleting of motivation.
My pain has been with me for almost 5 years now and over that period of time it has gotten worse. Not only have I forgotten what it feels like to not be in pain but I often struggle to feel hope about my future. Even on the days when my pain lessens, though I am grateful for those days, they always feel like a temporary reprieve and inevitably end up being so. It is also difficult to feel optimistic and motivated when so many things cause the fire to flare back up again. I mean, it’s hard to feel motivated to face the world when everything I love most is only available to me in the most limited capacity, if at all.
But it isn’t even the burn that is the burden, it’s the negative messages it seems to convey to me. ‘This will only get worse, I will leave you completely useless and completely helpless. I will atrophy your muscles and your body will curl and slump so you are old and broken before your time.’
I breathe in, I breathe out, I focus my attention on feeling a beam of sunlight on my arm or smelling the soft spring grass between my feet. The clamour of pain fades into my periphery but it never leaves, it’s always there waiting to burn and roar at the slightest provocation.
Today’s blog entry is a pessimistic one because right now I am feeling sorry for myself. Everything is so much harder with the constant noise of physical torment as a backdrop to everything I do, though the volume does change, it never completely ceases and moment by moment, it reminds me of its presence.