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For When You Feel Like a Lemon (On Living With Chronic Pain)

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I woke up this morning praying for an extra measure of grace. Over the last few months I’ve been experiencing an increase in my Fibro symptoms and it’s affecting my family.

In case you’re not familiar with Fibromyalgia it is an autoimmune disorder characterized by widespread chronic pain. The cause is not clear; it’s an invisible illness with many symptoms.

Common symptoms include:

  • backache
  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain & spasms or weakness
  • cramping
  • numbness
  • tingling/pins & needles
  • chronic fatigue
  • bloating
  • sleep disturbances

I experience most of these symptoms so:

I can’t sit on the floor and play Calico Critters with my daughter for long because I get numbness & tingling in my feet

I can’t run and chase my 5 year old because I don’t have the energy

I need help opening just about every kind of jar or container because I don’t have a lot of strength in my hands

I have to tell my teen to be “gentle” when he gives me a hug because I often hurt all over

Many days I feel like a failure. I feel like my family got a bum deal on me. I feel like a LEMON. As in the used car kind that looks good on the outside but breaks down on you as soon as you’ve left the parking lot.

I don’t often talk about living with chronic pain and I can get away with it because as is typical with a “lemon” I have a decent exterior paint job and look OK on the outside but my “engine” so to speak feels like it’s falling apart.

A few weeks ago I went to see my Dr. because some of my symptoms were getting worse and  I wanted to make sure they weren’t caused by anything else. Because that’s the thing with Fibromyalgia, you end up with a bunch of weird symptoms and then sometimes they get under control and then they get worse again or you get new ones to add to the list. So far my tests all look “normal”, which I guess is good news.

I often wish that there was another cause, some other kind of illness because at least then there might be a cure and I could hope to feel better. But so far no, it’s still just Fibro + my back injuries so I’m not actually sure that it will ever get better and I really hate this part of my story.

It’s really hard because my passion is helping women to embrace authenticity and believe that they are “enough”, to own all parts of their stories but this is one part of mine that I would love to edit out.

I live with pain pretty much most of my life and have for years. There are days when it’s excruciating, not all the time but probably about 3-4 days a month it’s almost unbearable. The rest of the time it ranges from achiness to uncomfortable but I’ve learned to function with it. The problem is that it’s always there and usually can get worse with certain activities.

I recently read an article that recommend that people who have fibromyalgia should have at least two rest periods a day and should try to avoid stress because that increases flare ups.

I laughed. I mean I try to be proactive about self-care and everything but I have 4 children; two of which are teenagers, I can’t live in a bubble and just ignore my responsibilities. So I live in a constant state of trying to balance life and pain. It’s often messy, and lately has felt especially messy.

But today as I prayed to have God fill in all of the gaps where I am weak I decided that I had a choice, I could suffer in silence as usual or I could  try to own this part of my story as well and maybe encourage someone.

Maybe you’re suffering in silence too? Maybe with chronic pain like me or maybe it’s another kind of pain. Perhaps you have other autoimmune disorders, or suffer from anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, IBS, infertility, migraines, etc. You look “fine” on the outside but don’t feel so great on the inside. If so, sweet friend I’m so sorry. You are seen and you are not alone.

Or maybe you love someone who is hurting and don’t know how to help. Maybe you don’t know what it feels like for that person but you want to be a safe place. Can I make just a couple of suggestions? Just listen, be available if they need something. Honestly, if there was a “solution” we would be trying it so please know that you don’t have to fix things and you don’t have to have the answers. Most of the time we just need to know that it’s safe to be honest and real even with the hard stuff; that you won’t judge if we need to ask for help.

Today I’m praying for all of us, for an extra dose of grace and self-compassion, for strength to accept even the painful parts of our story. And I pray for kindness and empathy from friends and loved ones who journey with us on this difficult road.

On days like today when I’M feeling like all kinds of lemons; the broken down AND the sour/tart kind I thank God that He can turn me into lemonade. Only He can take pain and redeem it. I don’t know why I have to live with this “thorn” in my side but I know that He is always with me and I trust that He is allowing this to be a part of my story for a reason.

For more on Fibromyalgia:

http://www.fmnetnews.com/

http://www.fibrocenter.com/images/infographic/prevalencenew.jpg

For partners/loved ones supporting someone with chronic pain:

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/marriage-20-tips-for-men-on-supporting-a-partner-with-chronic-pain/

http://www.fmnetnews.com/coping-resources/coping-advice/letter-to-normals

Linking up with the #GiveMeGrace community

 

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14 Comments

  1. hi zohary
    thank you for sharing. I live with tinnitus that is louder than the ocean I visit. and chronic back pain. I can so relate.
    I was wondering if I could share this post on my website. of course I would link it back to here.
    it is timely and I am sure others will benefit from your authenticity.
    blessings
    lois

    1. Hi Lois,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your chronic back pain and having to deal with tinnitus. Yes, please feel free to share! Blessings to you!

    2. the constant ringing, whooshing, roaring is in my head as well
      can make me feel like I’m going mad some days
      add that to chronic pain
      and yes, life is hard
      none of us are alone!

  2. Zohary, I too suffer with Fibromyalgia and don’t really talk about it too much. Never on the blog…maybe it’s time? For me, it’s just something I have lived with for the past 25 years. I have often felt that this was my ‘thorn’ and wonder what Paul’s thorn was. I have felt so very blessed through the years because when I know that God helps me cope with this ‘thorn’ in healthy ways and never do I let it stop me from living my life! It does slow me down and there are days that I just wish I knew what it was like to experience no pain or aches at all. But most days I just keep going and ignore the aches…and have learned there is so much value in pacing myself. Thanks for being open and sharing this part of your story.
    I pray that God will give you more and more ‘good days’ and He will draw you ever closer on the not so good days.

    1. Gay, thanks so much for your comment. I’m so sorry that you also have Fibro. We do get good at NOT talking about it don’t we? I often think Paul’s “thorn” was maybe fibro too so perhaps we’re in good company:/
      It’s not fun to talk about but I think sharing about the hard “stuff” makes it more OK for others to talk about their own hard places. That’s the thing with vulnerability, it’s often contagious. . .

  3. Zohary. I understand totally. I live with brain injury. I have to carefully manage every day in order to thrive. It is hard. And since it is not visible, it is very hard for those on the outside to get it. When it looks like I am being lazy or thoughtless I am most likely doing everything possible in my own strength to engage. It has been a big learning curve. I did experience excruciating neuropathic pain post brain surgery for about 2 years and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and myofacial pain but praise the Lord that did resolve. But it gave me a taste of chronic pain so that I could “see” what others suffer. I am grateful for that lesson. You are a real beauty inside and out and now I know better how to pray for you. Thank you for sharing your pain and encouragement

    1. Kelly, thanks so much for your comment. So sorry you have to live with this injury, it is SO hard to live with these “invisible” thorns isn’t it? Glad you have found some relief. Prayers and blessings sweet friend!

  4. Zohary,
    Thanks for being brave and real by sharing part of your story…You’re amazing…I can’t imagine doing all you do even without a chronic illness….Yes, praying grace for you today…be gentle with yourself,, my friend 🙂

  5. I can relate! I have been battling migraines and chest pain for the past four months! Still don’t feel like I have many answers from doctors. Having a few bad days a month and a lot of days where I’m not necessarily in pain but just don’t quite feel like myself. I’m thankful for what you shared and the reminder that our earthly struggles are often the same. Thanks for encouraging those struggling alongside you, myself included!

    1. Jordan! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m so sorry to hear about your migraines and chest pain. It’s so frustrating to not have answers 🙁 I’m glad my words were encouraging. Have a good weekend friend!

  6. Love this Zohary – and thank you so much for sharing! I also have an autoimmune disease and recently recovered from severe adrenal fatigue (bordering on a 2nd AI). I know how hard it is to live with an “invisible” illness. Praying for you as you continue on your journey – and wish you nothing but health blessings! Thank you so much for participating in #NotFineFriday and sharing your story.

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