Breaking The (Pain) Barrier

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

Yesterday afternoon, one of the news podcasts that I listen to on a daily basis included a segment on pain and palliative care. (Democracy Now: “Palliative Care Pioneer Dr. Diane Meier on How People Struggle with Serious, Sometimes Terminal, Illness”).

The following quote really stood out to me:

“Well, I think the most important thing that we do is recognize how important it is and recognize that if a person is in pain, nothing else can really be accomplished. That is, they can’t interact effectively with their families. They can’t accomplish important goals to them. Very often they can’t even get out of bed in the morning, because the pain is draining all their strength and energy.”

(I recommend reading or listening to the entire segment in order to place the above quote in context.)

These words caught my attention, because a year ago today they were so very true. I felt like I could no longer do anything, due to the chronic pain and disability that is caused by my rheumatoid arthritis. I was always in a bad mood, which definitely was not helping my personal relationships. How to accomplish goals no longer was an important question, as my goals seemed to disappear completely. And very often I not only didn’t get out of bed in the morning, I also didn’t get out of bed at all.

If only the pain would just go away, maybe I could go back to my normal life.

One of my biggest moments of personal acceptance during these past few months, years into my journey with rheumatoid arthritis, has been accepting the fact that the pain is here to stay.

When I used to make a statement like this, my heart would begin to race and my anxiety levels would rise.

When I make this statement now, it allows me to accept the reality of my situation. It allows me to see chronic pain as a part of my life, and not as a barrier to experiencing my life.

My pain is still here, and I have gone back to my normal life.

I continue to learn that I can indeed accomplish a lot, even as I encounter symptoms of my illness that simultaneously improve and worsen. (Alice, welcome to my version of Wonderland!) I do not disagree with the quote above…I know firsthand how true it can be.

Fortunately, I also know that the barrier of chronic pain, that often seems so insurmountable, can indeed be breached.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Wall!