Chronic pain is a lifestyle, not just a list of symptoms. It’s hard to see the bright side of pain conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis, but it’s also not healthy to get bogged down in the negatives. There’s more to chronic pain than just pain, and it can help to look at it in a humorous way. When you’re dealing with a chronic condition, you need to be able to laugh at it sometimes or you’ll never get anything done. Here are a few things that bring me amusement, whether other people find them funny or not.
Blood Tests Are No Worry
Since I started my fibromyalgia diagnosis journey in 2015, I’ve had more blood tests than I can count. I used to be terrible with needles, but they’re not a problem anymore! I know the process by now. Pathologists are often surprised by how quickly I get in the chair and roll up my sleeve. There’s a strange point of pride in getting blood drawn without flinching – it’s a kind of pain that I can tolerate.
Anyone who thinks arthritis is just something you get when you’re old is wrong. I’ve had it since I was seventeen, and it makes me sound like popping candy whenever I stretch. My ankles, wrists and neck are particularly bad. I’ve gotten into the habit of rolling those joints just to feel them crackle. Every person I’ve met with chronic pain is used to standing up with a big sigh because their knees or back wanted to complain; it’s not fun, but it is sometimes funny.
OTC Pain Medicine Isn’t Helpful
I can’t count the number of times someone has good-naturedly offered me some panadol for my pain, and I politely turn them down. While I appreciate the gesture, basic paracetamol doesn’t have much of an effect on me anymore. Unless I take it before the fibromyalgia symptoms kick in, it’s usually too late. I take a lot of panadol anyway because at least I’m doing something to combat the pain even if it’s a placebo.
Always A New Symptom
Chronic pain and mental health have a heavy overlap. Personally, my chronic pain stems from stress and anxiety, which present in many physical symptoms. I think I know all there is to know about my conditions, but every few months I’ll notice something off and wonder if I need to see a doctor. I do a quick search online (taken with a grain of salt, of course), and see that the strange new sensation I’m experiencing could be linked to fibromyalgia. Do I see my doctor anyway and potentially waste my time and theirs? Or do I just let it be, if it seems relatively benign? In some ironic way, I can always look forward to discovering something new about my illness.
So Many Layers
Like many chronically ill people, I have trouble regulating my temperature. I have bad circulation in my hands and feet, so I tend to run cold. I love heavy jackets and woollen jumpers and I find it hard to change out of my pyjamas during winter. On the flip side, my fibromyalgia medication makes me sensitive to heat and easily dehydrated. Being in a heated room on a freezing cold day, or a cooled room during a burning summer, makes me very uncomfortable. I’ll be taking layers on and off as my internal temperature changes, and it won’t settle. It makes planning my outfits very difficult because the actual temperature tells me nothing about how I’ll feel.
Tossing And Turning
So many chronic pain symptoms lead to terrible sleep. Now, I think I have a pretty consistent sleep schedule in terms of when I go to bed and wake up, but the quality of my sleep is … not great. I need a lot of comfort items to easily fall asleep: I have a pillow under my knees to help my hips, a weighted blanket, and a wheat pack for cold nights. I can’t find a pillow that doesn’t give me neck pain, and my aches make it hard to get comfortable. It turns out that being in pain all of the time makes it hard to sleep. Who would have thought?
Like I said before, it’s hard to see anything positive about chronic pain. But if there’s one upside that I’ve found, it’s other people who share my experiences. When I was diagnosed I felt so alone. None of my friends understood what I was going through. I was constantly gaslighting myself into believing I was making it up. But when I left high school and my world grew wider, I’ve met so many wonderful people who also have chronic pain. It makes a world of difference to share advice and complaints with similar people; just being able to share your stories with people who truly get it is a wonderful thing. And since I’ve started this blog, I’ve spoken to so many people with the same stories.
Chronic pain is never easy, but having a community makes it go down sweeter.