Do You Remember Your Worst Pain?
When was your last bad flare? The one that was so horrible you thought you were dying? Do you remember it? Do you remember what it feels like?
Do I block out pain? Growing up, I always internalized stress and rarely felt physical pain. That is absolutely ludicrous because, of course, I’ve felt physical pain. I was a kid once, a klutzy kid whose balance was basically non-existent. I was an athlete who strained herself to be the best. So, why don’t I remember any of it?
The worst pain
Why am I delving deep into psychology? I am currently experiencing the worst pain I think I’ve ever had. At least, that’s how I feel right now.
I was really sick in January and kept cycling through sickness for the last couple of months. My recent IV biologic medication did not work its normal magic so I’ve been feeling pretty low. I wouldn’t say I ever truly flared but I certainly wasn’t my normal 70%.
Then, one morning, I woke up and I couldn’t move. My back was in chaos.
I’ve had a back issue for the last year. My osteoporosis (thank you, steroids!) in my hips and lumbar spine worsened last summer and the pain from it was phenomenal. My back weakened and my body, weaker still, couldn’t bear the extra load.
I started physical therapy and everything was on the up and up. For a while.
The morning I speak of I felt like I had been punched out but the funny thing was it didn’t feel like my spine. True, my entire back was in such agony I couldn’t tell you where the pain originated but it really honestly felt like I had been beaten up.
I didn’t do anything interesting to strain my lumbar region. At least, nothing new – everything I did was an average day for me: I bought the cat litter, I carried the cat litter and I changed the boxes. I also played with Mocha. She’s roughly my size and we like to rough house. I could feel some tension in my spine and my rib cage but I still messed around with her because that was our routine. I fed Affie, I brought her upstairs and we played with Mocha before bed.
I don’t think M hurt me more than usual. Maybe she just hit the sweet spot that spiraled me into a world of hurt? Maybe, it was just too much strain on my back? I hadn’t done my PT exercises in a week because I felt so exhausted. I could play this game forever. If I knew why I flared I would make sure it never happened.
Now, here comes the fun part. This pain feels like nothing I’ve ever felt, but of course, I know it’s not the worst I’ve known.
This past summer when my back pain was at its greatest I went to the emergency room where they tested me for everything and found nothing. They asked me what was the strongest pain relief I’d ever taken and they prescribed it. “Sorry, you’ve got to take the Vicodin…You don’t really have a choice if you don’t want to be in pain”.
I could describe every second of pain that summer in excruciating detail but my brain doesn’t recall the actual feeling. Do I ever? Do you?
Are we programmed to forget pain (both mental and physical)? Is it a mechanism that humans have developed so they, for lack of better term, don’t hurt and move forward?
Let me know what you think in the comments!
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