Anyone who knows me would tell you that I smile a lot, and look healthy most of the time. But that is an illusion most days – I and try to look good and well by putting on nice clothes and a bit of make up, I love to banter with others and a grin is normally not far from my lips.
But my every day reality is very different, this is the ugly truth, this is what my chronic pain looks like in the safety of my own home.
Pale face, dull sunken eyes, hair matted, knotted and tied up in a scruffy bun or ponytail, you would find that I am still in my pyjamas at dinner time, there are frozen peas strapped to my head trying to dull the incessant throbbing feeling in my temple and a hot waterbottle pressed against the back of my scalp and neck to relieve the pressure and pain thumping through my skull.
Nausea, shaking, exhaustion, light headed, vision swimming, watering eyes, irritated sinuses from constantly rubbing and pinching at my cheeks and brows trying to release the pain. I’m so tired but can’t sleep, my eyelids feel heavy but I close them and see flashing lights and swirling colours that make me feel sicker.
Then there is the mental struggle of anxiety, and panic, that I will not be able to keep coping – despite the fact I do not feel depressed, I entertain suicidal thoughts occasionally still. Unlike before, these thoughts have nothing to do with not wanting to live, but instead they are born of the fear that I want to live, but I do not know how much longer I can keep coping with this pain.
I hope one day that the doctors will figure out how to help me, how to help anyone who struggles with this kind of thing – there are so many of us, chronic pain warriors. If you ever hear someone tell you their pain is bad, please don’t tell them “oh but you are looking so well”. Just give them a hug and tell them that you are thinking of them.