Breaking The (Pain) Barrier

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!

9 Comments
9 comments
  1. Wren says:

    With acceptance comes peace and the will to move on in spite of obstacles. Thanks for this post, RAGuy. I’m going to listen to that podcast. I’m well aware that my pain levels are much, much lower than they once were — and that they could easily, in spite of everything I do, rise again. That’s my fearful but (I think) realistic take on RA. Nevertheless, knowing that we can continue to live our lives with hope and even joy in spite of chronic pain and disability gives me great hope and inspiration to just get on with it. Here’s hoping that you’re feeling well and smiling often.

  2. Ldy says:

    that is oh so true, and very poignant, for us all, but doesnt it make you wonder if they are saying it from personal experience as in they suffer themselves, as i find not much understanding unless experienced by their ownself.

  3. Nicole says:

    I have learned that my pain does not define me. It’s a feeling, its not who I am as a person. I take advantage of my good days and rest on the bad ones.

  4. Lana says:

    The Alice in Wonderland statement – I know all too well what you mean. I know that I have to live with my conditions and I keep moving despite them, and it’s not easy – but regardless, I still have to do it.

  5. VICKI says:

    FOR 13YRS,I WENT TO BED THINKING PRAYING MY PAIN WOULD BE GONE WHEN I WOKE UP! WHEN IT WASN’T, I FURTHER PUNISHED MYSELF BE THINKING,”WHAT WAS I DOING WRONG”……THEN ONE DAY IT DAWNED ON ME, I NEED TO ACCEPT THIS MOMENT AS IS…PART OF THAT WAS VERY FRIGHTENING; YET AT THE SAME TIME, IT WAS A GREAT RELIEF!
    IT RELIEVED ME OF THE EMOTIONAL PAIN I WAS CARRYING ALONG WITH THE PHYSICAL PAIN! AT LEAST IT RELEASED “ONE” MONSTER! NOW, I SURRENDER INTO THE PAIN AND ALLOW IT TO SHOW ME WHAT IT IS I NEED TO DO! SOMETIMES, THAT IS “NOTHING!” I HAVE BECOME AWARE THAT NOTHING IS A HEALTHY THING FOR ME TO DO! BEFORE I WAS STRICKEN WITH RA, “NOTHING” DID NOT EXIST IN MY VOCABULARY! ALWAYS ON THE GO……. “BE STILL AND KNOW.”
    FROM BEING STILL, I’VE HAD A SHIFT IN MY THINKING IE: JUST BECAUSE I CANNOT PHYSICALLY DO MUCH, THERE’S MORE TO ME THAN MY BODY…I AM “ENOUGH” JUST BECAUSE I AM!
    THAT’S MY STORY AND I’M STICKIN’ TO IT……WELL, FOR TODAY ANYWAY!
    BLESSING TO ALL! AND KNOW YOU ARE “ENOUGH!”
    VICKI

  6. mamaof3 says:

    I read the quote at the beginning and it was so right on. I wish that i could get me husband to read and understand the pain and frustration that i am incountering with this. I so not think he fully understands or even wants too. Any ideas?

  7. Lene says:

    what are the things you learn when you lay with RA is that pain isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Well, certain levels of pain. There’s always that line beyond which you can’t really do much other than deal with the pain. Thanks for the link to that podcast – I’m looking forward to listening to it.

  8. Terry says:

    Like it or not, pain is a part of our new life now. I am not particularly fond of my new companion, but I’m not going to let him keep me from enjoying life as best I can now. Yesterday I met 3 other riders and we put in a 177 mile dual sport ride. Even 2 of the healthy guys were hurting by the time we got back to load up.

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