Friday, March 13, 2009

hurts so good...or not...

I confess...that I spend a lot of time figuring out how to balance pain and life.

There are a lot of quandaries that come along with a health condition that includes chronic pain. A few that I ponder regularly....

  • Treatment - To pop or not to pop

When you have an infection, you take antibiotics and they help cure it. When you have a cold, you take cold meds which don't help cure it but help with the discomfort. It gets trickier when you have a chronic condition. My pain pills certainly won't cure me. But it isn't like it is a defined short-term thing like a cold. I don't want to be taking these things every day and I'm not going to be all-better next week. It's hard to decide when to "give in" and when to "hold out." Sometimes the pain's just too bad, sometimes it it lower level but too unrelenting. But there's never a magic moment when popping the pill is the obvious right answer.

I worry too that sometimes I just like feeling "better" and "lighter" after a pill. I do not ever want to be taking them for that result. But I've been tempted.

I also worry they'll stop working. Darvocet did. I don't want to go another step-up...and I'm not sure my doc would even give me anything stronger than I take now.

And, as a related aside, there are the weird times where I hope it'll get a little worse. Because then I'll just pass out...not truly, but eventually my body gives in and falls into a very odd sleep state (not restive, but I'm completely out). If I'm headed there, then why bother with a pill?

  • Exercise - To sweat or not to sweat

There are all sorts of experts out there with rules on working out while sick (i.e. the "above the neck" rule). I haven't seen ANY on working out with chronic pain.

When the pain is bad, it is tough to get going. If I can get myself moving, I'll feel a lot of relief during the workout. And then MUCH worse rebound pain after. I can't decide if the relief is worth putting up with the rebound, especially when that often hits during my commute.

But, it isn't like skipping the gym will help my body fight off a virus or something like that. And if I skipped every time I felt ill, I'd rarely go. But, then again sometimes my body is just so tired of fighting that it doesn't have much else to give.

  • Staying home - To work or not to work

It is good to stay home when you are sick. You let your body's healing forces do their work by resting and you avoid sharing the bugs. But, again, this is not so clear when it is chronic. Resting at home won't make it better. No one's gonna catch it. There's no promise of an end in sight when I'll be "better" like there is with a cold. But there are still days when I just don't have much to give the world and need to curl into a little ball and hide.

This is such a self-indulgent, self-pitying ramble. But I think it there is a lot more involved in chronic pain than people who don't live it tend to realize.

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