Okay, I just need to whine some here.

Living with a chronic pain condition is hard. Being unemployed with a chronic pain condition is harder.

That seems counterintuitive, I know.  When you go to bed crying from the intense aching in your muscles that won’t respond to painkillers — or when you have to ration the effective painkillers because of what they do to your stomach — it might seem obvious that getting up the next day and going to work would be intolerable.

Wrong.

There are days, as I have written before, that it hurts to bloody breathe.  (Mornings like this morning.)  I have been having a lot of those days lately.  When I have a job to do, I have something to take my mind off my pain.  I have something productive facing me.  Is it still hard to work? Yes.  But I can still work — and still do good work — when I am struggling with pain.

Most of all, I have someone else to give me tasks.  I wish I could say that I had the self-discipline to set my own tasks, and not give in to the temptation to watch television, and move as little as possible.  I have been more successful the past few weeks than I have during some stretches in the past; I have written some, and I have kept up with my job hunting. Sometimes, though, I just need another person to require me to get things done: it’s easier to concentrate on somebody else’s tasks than figure out my own, especially if it is someone who is paying me. I spend time doing crosswords: my speed helps me judge (and increase) my mental acuity.

I do not use alcohol or drugs to control the pain.  (I could so easily get a green card, but have chosen not to.) This is partly because the side effects of drugs and alcohol: most opioid painkillers work only somewhat, and marijuana exacerbates depression. Alcohol makes me feel better for a short while, but makes the pain the next day far worse. I drink an occasional beer or glass of wine, but I have to be very careful not to have more than one (at most two) drinks, or I will pay for it heavily down the road.

Movement helps, if I can get myself moving.  Today, I had to do housecleaning, so by the afternoon my pain was down to a dull ache.  I can’t do a job with heavy physical requirements, but boy, would I welcome someone requiring me to use my brain.

It’s a disease, I keep telling myself.  A disorder.  Not a moral failing.

Working — especially for money — helps me convince myself of that.

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1 Response to Okay, I just need to whine some here.

  1. Just a datapoint (perhaps colored by my having some of the same issues): this reads as processing to me, not whining.

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