My husband says it must be what a toothache feels like. You know, when you can’t get in to the dentist yet and you have to wait and the pain totally consumes you. For a day or two. Except this has lasted for 17 years now.
My forearms hurt and sometimes the palms of my hands and even my thumbs and fingers. My triceps hurt and my shoulders. My neck and all the muscles down my spine and my hips. Up and down my legs. Especially the muscles on the outside above my ankles. There are times when I feel like my ribs and spine are crushing me and I can’t breathe.
I sometimes have no strength, not even enough to hold a pen in my hand and write a note. Or stand in the kitchen long enough to cook a simple dinner. And I have tension headaches that can last for days.
And then there’s sometimes this fog. I can’t think straight. I can’t remember things, even little things. Everything is just kind of fuzzy. There are also bouts with depression.
I can’t sleep. I can’t fall asleep because I hurt so much. And I can’t stay asleep once I do. So I’m tired. Exhausted. In pain. And moody.
And consequently, I’m frequently short with my family. And then I pile guilt on top of everything else for being short with them. It’s not their fault. It’s no one’s fault. But that’s hard to remember when you hurt everywhere and you haven’t had an average night of sleep in six days.
So I retreat to my room, close the door and hide in my bed. I miss out on much of life. They go off on these fun adventures. They invite me along, but I know it won’t be fun for anyone if I go. They say it will be okay, but I know the times I’ve gone when I feel like this hasn’t been all that great for them. Or for me.
This is my life. It has been for the last 17 years. Some hours, days, weeks and months are better and some are worse than others. There are times when I feel strong and I feel I can do anything. And there are times when I feel so small and hopeless and alone.
It’s physically exhausting for me to even go out and shoot baskets, one of the things that used to bring me great joy. I try to walk on the treadmill for even half an hour and then I’m done for the rest of the day.
I do push myself, though. I push myself to go into work two days a week. And I’m grateful for laptops and iPads so I can work in bed the rest of the time. I also sometimes push myself to go to my kids’ activities. I’m happy to say I made it to every one of my daughter’s volleyball and basketball games this year. That’s really hard with the drive to games and the bleachers. Oh, the bleachers.
And I try to use laughter as much as possible. I try to find humor in the smallest of things and laugh out loud. Because laughing releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, and I need every feel-good anything I can get to combat the pain.
And when I have to be in public, I try my very best to hide it all, to fake it, until I can make it back to my bed where people don’t judge me. I’ve gotten pretty good at that, faking it, I mean. But sometimes it’s all just too much to hide.
It’s been really bad the past few months. I’ve seen some pretty dark days. So I’m trying to rise above that. I struggle to know what that means though. I guess I’m trying to accept the life that’s been given to me. I don’t know if, in 17 years, I’ve actually tried to do that. I always thought it would eventually get better. But it’s hasn’t. I think it’s actually gotten worse lately, as bad as it’s ever been.
This is not the life I thought I’d be living. So what is it I’m supposed to be doing? How can I turn this so-called weakness into a strength? I don’t know yet. But I think I’m ready to try and figure it out.
And then a few hours later, I’m ready to throw in the towel again and give up.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).
So, here we go… I believe. Help thou mine unbelief…