"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." ~1 Peter 4:10
Facing chronic illness head on, attempting to be honest with myself and others about it's effects on my life and finding ways to minister and serve despite the limitations of chronic pain.
"LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me" ~Psalm 30:2 (NIV)
In the past 4 days I have felt like screaming....
The screaming pain......
Screaming because the pain is so intense and nothing is helping it go away. Not heat, not cold, not narcotics, not rubs, not creams....nothing. I feel like the only thing left to do is scream. Or is it the annoyance that I don't even know why my joints have flared up this time? Sure the weather is up and down, and my stress level is high, but nothing out of the ordinary. Why do I hurt?!
The scream of frustration.....
You kow those days when you can't do anything for yourself? Kind of like when you can't lift the milk out the refrigerator, or open the jar of spaghetti sauce to fix your family dinner. But the many faces of frustration could be a whole different post when you look at all the areas that chronic pain touches. The scream of frustration happens more than it should and a lot of times leaves me feeling like I'm somewhat out of control.
The scream of forced surrender (a.k.a. a pity party)......
You've been there. Don't deny it. It's the "I-can't-take-living-like-this-any-more" kind of scream. Maybe more likely referred to as a cry, a wail, a sob. It's the end of your rope pity party that anyone who deals daily with pain will eventually get to. There is very little that will help this emotional scream. I would recommend chocolate, hugs, Hallmark made for T.V. movies, puppies, and depending on your tastes maybe a glass of wine. I promise your mood will pass and you'll get your groove back, but it's okay to have these days. Don't dwell there, though.
The scream of ANGER.......
I'll admit, I want to scream a lot in anger. Anger at the disease, anger at the life changes I've had to make, but most of all......if there is one thing that REALLY makes me angry enough to scream it's ignorance.
(*I will make the disclaimer that I am not perfect and at times I say things that I shouldn't, but with God's grace, I am forgiven and continue to make every effort to look at all perspectives of a situation before opening my all too human mouth.)
I have very few people in my life that "get it". But that being said, even the ones that get it for the most part, have had moments where they judge my current situation or if I'm REALLY sick. I understand that it's difficult when I don't look sick. However, these people know me and choose to suppress the judgement in order to support me because they know my character.
My difficulty comes into play when I get the scowls from people because I'm parked in a handicapped spot at the grocery, or the whispering of co-workers because they can see an arthritis patch stuck to my back and peeking out from the collar of my shirt. If you don't know me, or have chosen NOT to get to know me, then you have no right to make the decision of how sick I am. You will never be able to see the level of pain, and I can guarantee you that every day I'm in pain. I make the choice to mask it and to try to be normal. Perhaps others should be judging me based on my strength to keep pushing instead of judging me on the days that I can't keep going.
I can only do so much to help educate my friends and family about RA and the effects it has on daily living. Do me a favor.....if you know someone dealing with chronic pain, find out why and care enough to do some research. I love But You Don't Look Sick that uses the "spoon theory" to help explain to friends and family and I also like The 60-second guide to RA from Rheumatoid Arthritis Guyas a fun way to discuss RA with my family.
How do you talk to friends and family about your disease?
Or do you not discuss it at all because it makes you want to SCREAM so much?