Living with an Invisible Illness

I hung my head over the toilet bowl, my arms crossed over the seat to keeping me from falling all the way in. My sweaty forehead keeps sliding off my arm, and smacking the toilet seat. My legs are wrapped around the toilet bowl, sprawled out in front of me on the cold, hard tile. Even though I have a feeling it might make me feel better, I try to keep from throwing up. My left temple is pounding, and my body is wrecked with exhaustion. Eventually I physically cannot hold my bodyweight up any longer, and lower myself down onto the tile of the bathroom floor. I barely stop to consider how unhygienic this series of events is. My arms now cross back over my face to try and protect my eyes from the harsh, fluorescent lighting. I quickly peek to check the time on my phone. I have a half hour until I need to leave for my brothers’ joint birthday dinner. I whimper, and slowly push myself up off the ground. I start undressing and clammer into a lukewarm bath, praying that the Sumatriptan my mom had just injected into my thigh would start to kick in soon.

This is a true picture of chronic pain. Knowing that there is no way you can possibly get through the next minute, and somehow doing it anyway. Feeling like you’ve run a marathon, when you’ve barely left your bed, and it’s already 7pm. Unsure of whether the misery you’re experiencing are symptoms of your disease, or side effects of your medication. This is the exact situation I found myself in this past Friday night.

The good news, is that I was able to somehow rinse off my body, get dressed, and spend the evening with my family. However, the hard truth is that the injection I had taken barely lowered my pain to a tolerable level. Not to mention the herbal supplements I had taken earlier that day. Every time I laughed at a joke, or glanced at one of the many light fixtures scattered around the restaurant, my pain flared. But I ate an amazing meal surrounded by the people I love, and moments like that make pushing through the pain worth it.

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Even so, there are so many days that I simply can’t push through the pain. And that’s ok too. We can’t push through the pain every single day. Can’t escape every migraine, or ignore every bout of depression. Living with chronic pain means that each day is a new challenge. Some days you walk 4 miles, do a half hour of yoga, eat all meals at the dinner table, and apply for 10 jobs. While other days, you only leave your bed to pee, eat microwavable mac and cheese in bed, and don’t change out of your pjs. Battling with chronic pain is all about your tolerance level on any given day, and working to up that tolerance to give yourself a better quality of life. Currently, I use therapy, light exercise, and a myriad of other coping mechanisms to try and both alleviate the pain, as well as increase my tolerance to said pain. But we need to stop shaming ourselves on the days that we don’t make it to that important dinner. Because when we are fighting a war, sometimes you lose a battle or two.

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