Chronic Pain – No Longer Normal

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Any one living with chronic pain tries to live a normal life.   That idea is really quite absurd because when you are living a life evaluating what you can or can’t do every moment of the day…..clearly you you are not going to fit in the “normal” box

This article was written by By Carol Levy, (PNN Columnist) and I think she describes the challenges really well

A Pained Life: The Blame Game

Do you ever second guess yourself or play the blame game?  I did it again when I found myself doing too much.

While reading, my eye pain from trigeminal neuralgia started to grow and I thought, “Oh heck, I can do one more page.” And with each additional page, I repeated what has become a mantra: “It’s okay. I can do it.”

But of course, I can’t. Not without paying a price.

I finished most of what I wanted to do, my eye pain constantly telling and then yelling at me, “Stop already!”

By the time I gave in and stopped, the level of pain was exquisite. I had no choice but to go to straight to bed, and try not to move my eyes for 15 minutes, if I was lucky, or an hour or more if I was not

I do the same when going outside. I know a breeze, or even worse the wind, will again trigger the pain from trigeminal neuralgia. Any touch to the affected side of my face does. But I so much want to go outside.

“Oh, the wind doesn’t look that bad,” I’ll say to myself as I watch the tree in my backyard swaying from the strength of the wind against it. I go outside, the pain is triggered and I scurry back inside as fast as I can, then wait the 15 minutes to an hour before the pain calms down.

The whole time I lie there and self-flagellate: “I knew to stop, but heaven forbid I should do what I know is right. I knew better. It serves me right.” And so on.

Most people do this kind of thing. “I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that last slice of cake, this stomach ache serves me right.” or “I knew I shouldn’t have made that right turn back there and now I’m lost.”

It’s normal, for everyone but us. Because our lives stopped being “normal” the moment the pain took over. For me, “normal” meant reading for as long as I wanted, even for hours at a time; watching a movie and enjoying the brightness and movements on the screen; walking outside even when the wind is strong; or enjoying the feel of snowflakes falling on my face.

My “normal” for the last few decades has been the exact opposite.

We can’t blame ourselves when normal doesn’t work for us anymore. Our “new normal” is stopping before the pain gets too bad, being honest and saying, “I’m sorry. I can’t do that activity or go with you today.”

To me, my new normal is an awful thing, but the longer I try to deny it, to hold on to my old normal, the harder it is to accept. And it seems there is no time limit for how long you can hold onto the false hope that the old normal will return.

The irony is that the word normal means “standard,” yet everyone’s normal is defined by their own peculiar standards and needs. So, at the end of the day, there is no true normal for anyone but the one measured by their own internal yardstick.

Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.”  Carol is the moderator of the Facebook support group “Women in Pain Awareness.” Her blog “The Pained Life” can be found here.



Tags: Living with chronic pain

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