I have been in a terrible chronic pain flare this week. I’ve had neuropathic pain for 8 years now and over that time, as my pain has worsened gradually, my pain threshold has kept increasing. What I now consider a ‘better day’ would have been a bad flare up day a few years ago. No matter how high that threshold gets there’s always a limit to how much pain a person can manage. When it gets this bad, the pain completely takes over and there isn’t much I can do to bring it down to a manageable level again. No medications come close to touching it, it’s a waiting game. I just have to focus on rest, coping, staying calm and getting through each hour of every day at a time. Little things like trying to distract yourself by watching your favourite TV programme, meditation, taking to a friend/loved one and hot water bottles can make it a tiny bit more bearable.
Flare up pain is the sort of pain that most ‘normal’ people who don’t experience pain every day, would go to A&E in screaming thinking there was something drastically wrong with them. I feel like I want to cry and scream when it’s like this but I know that that isn’t going to help and the stress will only exacerbate it. I really cannot describe how bad it feels so I often scroll the internet trying to find images I can perhaps use to best express how I’m feeling. I wrote a post about how powerful art can be to communicate chronic pain here if you’d like to read more about it. I recently came across PainExhibit.org; an online art exhibit from artists with chronic pain who use art to express their pain experience. I chose a small selection of pieces to share with you that really struck me – those I can currently relate to whilst in the midst of a flare. I hope to one day do some art myself when I am up to it to show my unique experience.
My Pain by Janet Voss
“My pain began almost six years back as a spot in my lower back. It has now spread down the entire lower right half of my body. Where I used to walk with no problem, I may now need to use a scooter as it has become quite painful to walk. No clear diagnosis has ever been given and I’ve been through numerous injections, procedures, tests, two back surgeries and have had a spinal cord stimulator put in and later taken out. There has been no relief except at night when I lay down – then the pain completely subsides. It remains a mystery to the doctors I’ve encountered and I now know I’ll just have to live with it. It has completely changed me and my life and I continue now as a different person than I was seven years ago. Pain has that effect – for better or for worse.” Janet Voss.
CP II by Mark Collen
“The sculpture represents suffering from chronic pain.” Mark Collen.
Today’s Forecast by Cynthia Yolland