A Chronic Pain Flare

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Wednesday I triggered a huge flare and a huge setback in my progress over the past two months. As of yet, I am unsure of the extent of this setback; in the past it has ranged from several days to up to four months for me to get back to “normal,” with normal being levels of pain that are moderate and do not leave me bedridden for the majority of the day. Thankfully, I am guessing this one will be more towards the ends of several weeks than several months.

As always, I look back on this week to try and figure out what in the world happened. I usually have some semblance of an idea, and this week it is clear that my activity level and commitments were higher than normal. Typically, I use Monday and Tuesday to rest and do small amounts of work around the house to prepare for going to work on Wednesday and Thursday. This week I had an eye appointment, a meeting, and several shopping trips that kept me out of the house for half the day on both Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday I had work for a few hours, and I left directly from there to a doctor’s appointment to get paperwork signed to release me from jury duty. It was actually a great doctor’s appointment, and she signed my paperwork. But I was at the appointment for several hours, and the drive home was so long with traffic that it sent me into this flare.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day depressed and crying. Then around 2:30, I dragged my body out of the house to get to work. The good thing about work is that I love it, and I came home emotionally in a better place, but physically I was and still am a wreck.

So, here I am again – the beginning of a flare. Giving up is not an option, but it is a momentarily comforting thought. Each time this happens, I feel like I can’t do it again, but I always do. I always crawl and claw my way out until life gains some semblance of normalcy again.

So, these are my goals moving forward in these next days to months of gaining back what I lost.

  1. Be kind to others. Pain leaves me prone to anger, irritability, and complaining. I used to think I was a nice person, but pain brings out a side of me that I absolutely abhor at times. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I know that just because I am prone and vulnerable to sin in these ways when I am in pain, does not means I need to be controlled or give in to this anger. So, this time, I choose to be kind. Lord give me strength!
  2. Be kind to myself. Right now I am blaming myself for causing this setback. I keep replaying the last few days in my head to figure out what I should have done and planned differently. But the truth is, I had to go to work, and I had to go to the doctor’s appointment at that time if I wanted any chance to get out of jury duty. Blaming myself and feeling guilty does no good to anyone.
  3. Allow myself to rest. Today is an all-day-lying-on-the-couch day. In the past I have tried to push through setbacks, but for me, this never works. Taking time to rest is the most productive thing I can do right now, and my body will let me know when it is ready to move again.
  4. Use my time productively. Just because I am lying down does not mean I need to spend all day watching TV (although, trust me, some days are bad enough this is all I can do!) But today, I can take this time that must be spent lying down and work on my writing. Being productive puts me in a better frame of mind mentally and emotionally, which is greatly needed to help me stay hopeful.
  5. Remember Psalm 9:9-10. “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
  6. Believe Psalm 9:9-10. When my mind begins to draw connections between my suffering and God leaving me, I have to slow down and remind myself that the opposite is the case. God is close to those who suffer. He is near to the brokenhearted. I can seek him in all circumstances, and he will not forsake me. In my suffering, I must go to God.
  7. Take things one day at a time. I’m praising God that I do not have to work today, but my mind keeps moving to the next few days and the worries of how I will get through my commitments. I must choose to take things one day at a time, focusing on today and knowing God will grant me strength for tomorrow when it is needed.

How do you stay hopeful in the midst of a flare? What do you do to get through?

13 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry that you are struggling with a flare. This paragraph that you wrote:

    “So, here I am again – the beginning of a flare. Giving up is not an option, but it is a momentarily comforting thought. Each time this happens, I feel like I can’t do it again, but I always do. I always crawl and claw my way out until life gains some semblance of normalcy again.”

    It describes exactly how I feel when I have a flare. It’s like falling into a hole and knowing that you are going to have to slowly, but surely, climb your way out of it once again. I encourage you to keep reassuring yourself that you will come back out on the other side again; like you said, you always do. But believe me, I know how hard it is in between. Praying for comfort and fast relief for you.

    1. Thank you so much. Means a lot! And I you were one of a few people I unfollowed by mistake as I was scrolling through posts on my phone. Keeps happening! Then I figure it out and follow again 🙂

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your recent flare. I think it is great that right away you articulated some goals for dealing with the setback, whether the flare ends up being for a week or for months. For me, due to the uncertainty of the length of a flare, I focus on one day at a time. I zero in on the smallest things that I can be grateful for each day. I really try and just be present and take each day on its own and not worry or wonder about the next day, week or month. Like you, I try and find things to be productive at even if I am bedridden, which I am for the most part.

    I had a major flare in July and I have still not yet recovered. For the first time ever, I adopted the approach of one day at a time and I can say it helped me deal with this flare so much better than I have dealt with ones in the past. The feelings of hopelessness and depression did not overtake me this time.

    The other thing I did differently was I reached out more. I told more people what I was going through. I asked people to visit me. I asked for support. These were all new behaviours for me but I knew I had to do them. I am realizing that I go into depression and hopelessness if I start to feel alone in dealing with my situation.

    It isn’t easy and I can’t reach out to everyone but I have to say that it did help and once people realized the extent of my setback they were more than happy to help in whatever way they could. I just needed to articulate exactly what that was to them.

    Sorry I am starting to babble now. I hope this all makes some sense to you.

    All the best to you.

    1. This is really helpful – I struggle with the approach of taking it day to day, even though I recognize how much value it holds. I am often thinking forward to the days I have to go to work, or when I am going to fit grocery shopping in, etc… I know my mind would be more at peace if I stayed in the present.

      Asking for help, oh my. I have trouble with that. I recently asked my husband to take over some tasks that i typically do and that has been so extremely helpful. I know my friends would be here in a heartbeat if I asked for a visit, meal or help cleaning, etc… But I still have not reached the point where I ask for that kind of help 🙁 May be soon in coming. My one friend does visit me of her own initiative though, which has been an amazing blessing.

  3. Thank you for the description of a flare up…it is hard to put down in words all that a flare up is. People who don’t have chronic pain don’t understand. I totally agree with your goals…practicing these, turns a negative to a positive. We especially need to be kind to others, especially our loved ones who support us. I especially like to turn to our Lord God. Psalm 9 is good. I love Psalm 91 and Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me.”

    Also, Philippians 4:4-9
    Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

    Thank you for these goals…hopefully, these will help someone along the line. I appreciate you sharing what every person with chronic pain has a problem putting into words.

  4. I would like to thank you for what you do on this site and introduce myself. I am a 52 year old woman with both Fibromyalgia and CRPS / RSD, and my experience prompted me to launch my own site, Pain Maps — thought you might find it useful. It is less of a blog and more of a resource (articles, audio interviews, links, etc) all dedicated to alternative ways of thinking about pain and to promoting self education:

    http://www.painmaps.com/

    For anyone who shares my passion and priorities, I invite participation on the site. Perhaps if it speaks to you you can get in touch?

    Wishing you all the best in your journey,

    Jessica

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