#AtoZChallenge – Living with Chronic Pain

Today is Good Friday, and for the #AtoZChallenge I allocate the letter P to pain. I was going to talk primarily about postnatal pain, but decided instead to be more general. Chronic pain is something that almost everybody has to live with. I was listening to a feature on BBC radio 5 Live just yesterday on this topic, and some of the callers that were interviewed moved me to tears.

Living with chronic pain is something I am very familiar with. To look at me from the outside, so to speak, people would not see a problem. I have never been classed as disabled, never needed any special treatment in daily life. I rarely see my GP, and actually would not recognize my registered doctor if I saw him out on the street. And yet, I have this condition.

Chronic pain art

The chronic pain condition that I live with is related to two eye disorders that work in tandem. I have a condition called Lymphodoema Distichiasis. Basically, I have two rows of eyelashes in each eye, one of which grows on the inside of the eyelids and subsequently scratches the cornea. I have scarring on both eyes that was sustained in childhood, since it took a while for me to be properly diagnosed. This included multiple surgical procedures and various medicine trials. As a teenager I developed Dry Eye Syndrome, where my eyes do not produce enough natural tears for lubrication. It leaves me with a permanent feeling of tiredness, and hot, sore eyes. Some days I literally want to rip my eyes out because I feel that would be the only cure.

Chronic pain woman

More recently I have developed chronic pain symptoms that might be sciatica, but they have not been properly checked by doctors and so I don’t have an official diagnosis. I began to have severe leg and lower back pain during my first pregnancy. It eased off and then returned when my baby was about 8 months old, and has since returned on regular occasions with my second child. The leg pain leaves me crying out in agony and unable to move, and it is very distressing. I had a brief programme of physiotherapy when I first went to my doctor, but was told the pain should ease after a few months. I was left feeling frustrated and alone. My doctors dismissed me as an unimportant case.

I know quite a few people who also live with chronic pain. It seems to be something of an accepted condition in my social circles. Our cultural norm for dealing with such a problem is to throw medicine at it. I personally believe that we need to go deeper. For myself I feel that a good programme of emotional and psychological therapy would go a long way to help ease my pain symptoms, and subsequently leave me refreshed and happy. At the moment I can’t afford such therapy, but I will investigate it anyway, just in case… I wonder if this might work for other people? Please do share your stories, and any links for organisations that might be useful.


Thank you for stopping by, now why not check out my fellow writers on the #AtoZChallenge? See you tomorrow!

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*Pain art image courtesy of WikiHow.com; Woman in pain image courtesy of Pinterest


About SpookyMrsGreen

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11 Responses to #AtoZChallenge – Living with Chronic Pain

  1. scskillman says:

    Thank you for this post Catherine and the pain you suffer sounds as if it must be very difficult for you. Currently I am reading a book called “How To Liberate Yourself From Pain” by Dr Graham Brown because I have been experiencing leg and hip pain and the doctor has told me just to keep taking ibuprofen and that will relieve the pain eventually. I am also seeing a physiotherapist, and do Pilates, which is supposed to help. However Dr Grahame Brown’s contention is that “all pain is a combination of physical and psychological elements”, that the language we use when describing pain affects its severity, and fear is the biggest factor in persistent pain. I recommend the book for you to read. I must emphasise that the pain he talks about is “pain without a clear physical cause”. Doctors should be able to prescribe medication or offer meaningful solutions if the pain comes from a clear physical cause. Anyway, I hope this book may be able to help you, if it is relevant; otherwise I hope the doctors will start taking you seriously and take meaningful action to heal you.

  2. I know what you mean about doctors throwing pills at pain. Medication can be helpful in the short term, but taken all the time it can do more harm than good. Over the last 3 years I’ve gradually weaned myself off all medication by using mindfulness techniques. I’ve found books like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and Sane New World by Ruby Wax very helpful. The book mentioned in the last comment looks like a good one, too – I’ve found that pain is definitely made worse by my own anxiety and the thoughts I have about it.

  3. habisha says:

    I can certainly relate. I got Fibromyalgia with my second pregnancy. It took nearly two years to diagnose, and everyone kept telling me I was faking or making things up to get sympathy. Finally a friend handed me a flier that described me. I took it to my doctor who sent me to a rheumatologist, and ten minutes later I had the diagnosis. Since then, I have dealt with other things like Migraine Syndrome, and degenerative disc disease. I feel for your back pain. My solution was to find a warm spot in the world and move there. I hope you can get some help. Maybe some gentle yoga on the days you don’t hurt so bad? it helps me.

  4. beachcomber says:

    Thank you for bringing me some compassion this evening. I have been in a pain flare from traveling this past weekend. I can relate to your second condition although I have had dry eye in the past and was prescribed drops for it. I have
    spinal stenosis and compression in my pelvis from accidents some years ago. Sitting for long periods in a car to travel is very painful even though we stop every couple of hours.
    Before I sat down to eat dinner tonight I was praying for help to cope with my frustration over my condition. I prayed for wisdom to respect my limitations which is one of the main problems with those who battle chronic pain and is why I flared up during my trip this past weekend. I am sure that you relate. We look fine on the outside – we feel that doing something out of the ordinary will be good for us so we reason – If the pain flares up, we’ll just grin and bear it… using our arsenal of pain relief tools when we are away from home. But once the cycle begins and we are in the company of others, the pain escalates due to tension, emotion and not being in our own home.
    I thank you for your P for Pain post today. It was comforting to me and I hope others.

    • You are very welcome, and I am glad you still enable yourself to get out and do things despite the pain. It’s a double-edged sword isn’t it? We want to be ‘normal’ and try to ignore it, but it is always there. Sending love and healing to you my friend…

      • beachcomber says:

        Wow. Thank you for that comment, I sure needed to read it today-AGAIN!
        Love…it goes a long way. I have so much catching up to do with my blog and when these pain flares hit we aren’t too loving with ourselves until someone like you reminds us…
        Thank you for the kind and healing thoughts.

      • You are welcome! Hey, if we don’t love ourselves, who else will? We can’t help other people until we help ourselves, that’s what I say. Have a lovely day

  5. beachcomber says:

    P.S. And how are you doing btw?

    • Oh a lot better thank you. My doctor actually confirmed that my leg pain isn’t sciatica, it is an inflamed nerve possibly as a result of post-pregnancy hormones. I am on medication awaiting physiotherapy, and I feel a heck of a lot better now the pain has eased.

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