Navigating Chronic Pain

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

November 4th, 2008 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I have been a bad little blogger, I know.  They say if you’re going to blog, you have to keep it fresh — i.e., at least three posts a week.  But between the big move and the new job and the major feature article on chronic pain and the month-long Jewish holiday season and some very challenging personal matters, not to mention the computer crash two weeks ago, well, it’s just been tough to sit down and write.

A lot has been going on, however, especially around the world of navigating chronic pain.  Having left my “tribe” behind me, I suddenly found myself struggling with basic tasks around the house. Getting a new schlepper, a new cleaning person, and a new handyman to help me out with various things seemed like overwhelming tasks in and of themselves.

You kind of already have to trust someone in order to let that person into your house to help out, right?  Well how do you first establish that trust, especially if you’re a woman living alone?  I found myself postponing the process, because it seemed daunting. 

Meanwhile I was stuck and very, very frustrated when I needed to scrub the bathtub, take a broken printer downstairs, vacuum, unpack boxes, plant flowers on my balcony, whatever. Every stupid little thing was a challenge. I got through it as best as I could — sometimes ending up lying sprawled like a beached whale, my back totally out, but nonetheless having gotten through it.

I have since found a housekeeper who can shlep and do basic repairs and gardening work, so I accumulate things over a week or two, then have her come and help out one afternoon. It’s amazing how expensive it is to live with chronic pain. It’s not just the medical bills, but the overall cost of living:

The helpers we have to hire so our bodies don’t fall apart. The taxis we have to take, because other ways of getting around are too draining or painful. The special foods and supplements we have to buy so we can manage our pain naturally. The shoes we need to purchase so that we can walk without hurting. (Don’t even get me started on pain and fashion.) And on and on and on.

And when we don’t have those things, and when our routines are interrupted, it’s so much harder to adapt than if we had physical strength and stamina at our beck and call. It can feel depleting, overwhelming.

Then there’s the whole matter of establishing new friendships, and needing to orient those friends to the world of chronic pain. No matter how fabulous and caring they are, there is some kind of learning curve involved, and playing teacher during that time can also be exhausting.

So in a nutshell, I’ve been busy. But I’m feeling settled enough now that I can come back to my writing. Besides, I have to do it, for my emotional survival.

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