Psalm 38:7 - My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
It’s the beginning of a new year.
To most people going back to their normal routine may be a bit sluggish at first, but for the most part they slip back in with no trouble.
But for the person who battles pain, the idea of starting another year with chronic pain can bring out negative, hopeless emotions.
You start in denial, saying to yourself that you aren’t going to suffer this year, even though your doctor warned you that your back is much worse and to be ready for an increase in your pain level. “Maybe he can help me make it all go away,” you say to yourself. Or maybe you don’t even go to the doctor, and try to pretend you’re like everyone else.
After denial has spent its last breath, you move on into anger. “Why do I have to suffer another year? It’s not fair!” You want to stomp your feet, throw a few things around and punch a hole in the wall. But you can’t. That would hurt. So your anger burns stronger.
When all your anger energy has been blown out, you move on into bargaining. You tell your doctor, “I promise I’ll take it easy this year. I promise I won’t try to do something that may cause me to hurt myself. I promise, I promise, I promise.” But no amount of bargaining or promising to your doctor that you’ll try harder will help; you still are facing another year in chronic pain.
After you’ve run out of bargaining chips, you move on into depression. You’ve lost your hope. You’ve spent all your energy. You’ve got nothing left that was part of your old life. Your family tries to lift your spirits. Your friends stop by with a sampling of new recipes they’ve tried. And then, you simply don’t care anymore. “Is there a way to make this all go away?” you ask yourself. And there is.
It’s time to move on into acceptance. “No!” you shout. “I won’t accept this! I can’t accept that I have to suffer in pain for another year.” Yet if you really want to help yourself, then accepting your situation is the only way to make life doable.
Painnewsnetwork.org posts the article, “Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary?” in which it states accepting chronic pain doesn’t mean giving into it and it doesn’t mean that you stop looking for treatment. They also discuss what accepting chronic pain does mean such as learning to live again.
Beginning to understand, accepting the chronic pain you face, can help open the door for you this next year to the possibilities of finding joy again. There may be searing pain and no health, or limited health, in your body, yet your spirit can be filled with life and hope again.
Exodus 18:17-18 - Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."
Christmas is almost upon us. All of the shopping and cooking can feel like a giant wave catching up with us, and washing us into a storm of activities.
It’s fun to attend parties and looking for just the right gift for someone. But for someone with a chronic health condition, you can’t keep up with all that is in front of you.
So you set a magic hat in front of you and reach inside to find reasons why you can’t do these things even though other people think you’re just making excuses. Your, “No,” is unacceptable to them. After all, Christmas only happens once a year.
So you change your clothes, put on a happy face and head out the door to go shopping or attend a party.
But what’s the result?
Your chronic illness takes stage front and everyone sees you sinking into a couch with pain written across your face.
There has to be a better way. How do you enjoy the holiday season when you have chronic pain? Nationalpainreport.com posts the article, “15 Tips for Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Illness.” The article suggests only scheduling one thing a day. This way you won’t overdue yourself. Also, go potluck and opt for convenience by using premade items for holiday meals.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. Moses was trying to judge every decision the Israelites came to him for. He was way over his head trying to fit everything into one day. When his father-in-law came for a visit, he saw all that Moses was doing and said that it wasn’t good. Moses listened to the advice and appointed leaders who could settle the smaller disputes and the people saved the large ones to bring to Moses.
During the holiday season we can all find ourselves swept up into the waves of all the things that “need” to be done. But that’s not healthy for anyone, especially for those with chronic health conditions. Don’t be afraid to say no to the many activities available and don’t be afraid to ask for help, like Moses did, when you need it. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the season instead of dreading it.
Isaiah 40:29 - He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
During the last few weeks, since a wildfire consumed my mother’s home and community, it has felt as if my mother and our family have been running a marathon.
If you’ve never gone through a wildfire or other natural disaster then it may be difficult for you to understand what someone goes through.
My mother is more fortunate than others, because she has family to help her through it. And though we are ever grateful that she survived the wildfire, there has been an endless trail of paperwork to be completed for the insurance claim as well as applying for FEMA.
There has been canceling utilities and cable companies, changing her address to a P.O. Box and many other things which have to be taken care of. Just as she completed one part of the process another series of situations faced us.
It has been one thing after another and through it all, one thing surfaced: Exhaustion. Deep into your bones painful exhaustion.
My mom has been brave, but just as anyone who has survived a disaster would tell you, being on the edge of your seat in constant motion not only affects you emotionally but causes chronic health conditions to worsen.
In the midst of trying to complete all of the tasks required of the trauma victim, it’s important for them to take care of themselves. So how do we do that? Helpquide.org in their article, “Traumatic Stress – Dealing With Trauma After a Disaster or Disturbing Event,” provides traumatic stress signs and symptoms as well as suggestions on how to deal with it. Some of their ideas include realizing there’s no right or wrong way of dealing with it, avoiding obsessively reliving the event and reestablishing a new routine.
Though the life a trauma victim lived no longer exists, it is possible to create a new life and heal from the pain that was suffered. God is close by, also. Just as the Bible verse above says, he gives strength and increases the power of the weary and weak. He will also give them the wisdom they need to complete the tasks set before them. And remember, if you know someone who is a recent trauma victim; lend a helping hand and a listening ear. Healing and relief from exhaustion comes when we look out for each other.
Luke 18:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
I’ve written in the past about chronic pain and raising a child, but what about the other way around – raising a child with a chronic health condition.
The tables are turned.
Our hearts are a tangled mess of emotional pain.
We want to do something.
To help our child heal.
But sometimes, we have to watch them suffer.
Having children is one of the greatest blessings in this life. It’s a chance to bring up out of you the love that’s been stored for years, and take a watering can and pour that love into a little life.
It’s fun to laugh together.
It’s fun to play together.
It’s fun to try new foods and watch the baby make funny faces.
It’s fun to hold them tight.
And fun to let them go as they swoosh down a slide at the playground.
But when your child suffers:
There’s not much to laugh together about
But much to cry together about.
There’s not much strength for your child to play
And many things they can no longer do.
There’s not much fun in trying new foods
And not much they will eat at all.
There’s not much of an opportunity to take them to the playground
And not much to help them find joy in.
But there are many times to hold your child
And many times to give them your comfort and love.
Yet still, no matter how much you hold or love your child
There’s not much time left to do so if your child may die any day.
Life has to be lived differently if you have a child who is sick or in pain all of the time. But if you dig deeply, and I know you will because you love your child, there are ways that you can help your child do more than just push through another day.
Take a look at the article, “Children With Chronic Pain,” on psychologytoday.com. A couple of things that the article discusses are the need to acknowledge the difficulties when they are pulled in to be their child’s advocate looking out for their care while all the time the parent is facing their own fears, grief, anger and powerlessness. Also, with all the time and energy that a parent is called upon when their child is in pain they must try to stop focusing so much on the illness because they may forget to see their child.
It takes much time and energy to raise a child with a chronic health condition. But take a look at the Bible verse above. Jesus called all of the children to come to him. And there probably were those among the children who were sick or in pain, and he blessed and held them all. He didn’t forget them. He didn’t stop them from coming. Jesus will do the same thing for your child. He will pick them up and carry them in his arms. Jesus knows you, the parent; as well and how hard life is for you. He is ready to give you the strength you need for each day and for extra love to pour into your child’s life.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.