Chronic Pain: A Litmus Test for Friends and Romantic Possibilities

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 20th, 2009 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

A few weeks ago, when my ankle was in super bad shape, I went through with hosting a small brunch at my home with three cool women I’d met in various places. I’ve been on a mission to get out into the world (or bring it to me) and have a social life again. So though it was rough making pancakes and omelettes while standing on the foot in pain, I did it.

Meanwhile, I was anxious about my laundry situation, being that I was forced to wear not only some farily odd clothing arrangement, but also my last pair of underwear. I live on the third floor, and my apartment only has one laundry machine – in the basement. So however I sliced it, doing laundry on the premises or taking it to a laundromat, I had to haul bags up and down stairs, which was dicey at best, considering the shape my ankle was in at that time.

I decided to throw social grace to the wind in favor of clean clothes. At the end of the brunch, as everyone was scampering away, I asked if they could help me take my laundry down to the car – explaining the situation, of course. Two of them flashed me looks of horror. Needless to say, I was mortified, so I considered retracting my request.

The thought of all my clothing and linens stacked into six fat laundry bags for another few weeks, however (while I turned all my underwear inside-out for second runs), propelled me boldly forward. To minimize the awkwardness of the situation, I only asked them to carry the comforters that needed washing, which seemed to make them less uncomfortable. As it were.

That assistance didn’t do much, however, in the way of enabling me to look quasi-presentable over the next few weeks. So there I was, manipulating my lip into all kinds of squishy shapes (as I do when highly stressed), when the third of the three women – the only one who had an of-course-I’ll-help-out attitude about the whole thing — returned from my car and asked me if I’d like her to take the rest of my laundry down.

I wanted to cry.

As ridiculously awkward and socially alienating the fallout of our pain conditions may be, they are not all that bad in screening out true friends. This woman and I ended up having a heart-to-heart about her own health struggles and about how to face life’s challenges with courage, honesty, and a positive outlook.

Chronic pain also has proven to be a pretty decent litmus test for romantic possibilities. Take the hottie who wore mirror shades to the beach with me a couple of weeks back. I let him know that the sun reflecting off his shades was hurting my eyes. He duly noted the discomfort but did nothing about it – no sunglass removal, no discussion of possible alternatives. So we spent the afternoon with me not looking at him, which caused a whole other level of discomfort. And I knew right away the guy was not for me.


M. Ross July 22nd, 2009

I have only read a few entries so far, so I am not entirely qualified to comment yet, but can I just say that I am SO GLAD to have found your blog? I have dealt with chronic pain and illness for over a decade now (I am 24) and during that time there have been highs and lows. Right now I am in a pretty major low. I have a wonderful partner, a nice home and supportive friends, but that only gets you so far when you can do nothing but sleep and vomit. I know it is cliché but it is so nice sometimes to know that you are not alone.

Maria July 22nd, 2009

Great job! You honestly is so refreshing.  You are so good at weeding out of those who shouldn’t in your life as they are not healthy for you.  Thanks for including me in this article.

Take Good Care,

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