Exodus 33:14 – The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
In many ways, emotional pain follows the path of chronic pain.
There are times when the pain you experience is just a light breeze. You know it’s there, but you’re able to function and be at peace.
This would include:
All of these could be resolved by Tylenol or Ibuprofen and a brief rest.
Then there are times when pain starts to speak into your ear and tell you, “It’s getting worse now.” It is at this point that you need to forcibly put your mind onto something else that will completely occupy your mind.
This would include:
All of these may not resolve with simply over-the-counter medications, and you need to see your physician especially if you think you’ve broken a bone.
But then there are times when pain has the audacity to walk right up to you and say, “You can’t do this anymore! Not again! I’m winning this war,” and it goes and grabs anxiety by the hand and marches into your every thought and action.
This would include:
All of these painful conditions need to be followed by a physician who is trained in treating them. It may include long-term medical care, because many chronic conditions don’t go away.
Whatever the depth and strength of the pain someone with a health condition experiences, it is indeed accompanied by emotional pain. The anxiety caused by meeting new physicians to join your team of providers alone can send you in a tail spin. There also can be an element of depression experienced when one learns they may never be the same again.
Healthtalk.org, their article, “Coping With the Emotional Impact of Chronic Pain,” provides video clip interviews with people who suffer from chronic pain and how they cope with it. One of the people interviewed had a difficult time at first with the idea of seeing a psychologist and wondered how he could help the patient through the rough times. But once the patient went, he discovered that it did help.
Once the pain or illness has taken such a toll on your life, you must realize that you can’t do this alone. And it’s there, at that point of surrender, that a psychologist can help and God can help you if you let him. And it’s there, at that point of surrender, that God picks you up, cradles you in his arms and says, “Pain and anxiety may think they’re winning the battle, but I will win the war for you. So rest. I’m here.”
Deuteronomy 29:5 - Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.”
You’ve been on your feet, at work, all day. You can hardly wait until you get home, take off your shoes and sit down. Your feet just ache.
It’s common for our feet to hurt after a long day. They may throb some, but it’s not bad enough to dig deeper into what to do.
You know the drill:
These things are mostly common sense and you probably already make sure your shoes are right.
But what if your feet hurt whether you’re on your feet or not? Is there a time when you should be worried when they throb, burn, are hard to bend or you’re unable to stand without being in pain? In these cases, it would be wise to make an appointment with your physician to check your feet.
There are many reasons for your doctor to come into the picture:
Verywellhealth.com, in their article, “Common Causes of Foot Pain,” details other reasons for foot pain such as tarsal tunnel syndrome which is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, but affects the main nerve that goes to your foot. Turf toe is also detailed where you can develop a sprain at the base of the big toe causing toe cramping and pain.
Once you understand the difference between minor foot pain and those of a more serious nature, you can know whether it’s time to call your physician. He can suggest a treatment plan and how you can minimize your pain.
Take a look at the Bible verse above and you’ll see that God cares about your health, even that of your feet. The Israelites had traveled through the wilderness for forty years. In that time, neither their clothes nor sandals wore out. If God cared about the Israelite’s feet, then he will take care of your feet as well.
Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Have you ever watched a dance recital? These graceful dancers hardly ever make a mistake. Their training and strength are evident to all. It takes a lot of practice to be able to dance in public where the entire world can see you.
I, too, step onto the stage except it’s not a dance recital, but the stage of pain. I may move around the stage in grace, but I often miss that last jump and fall flat on my face.
I scold myself for trying such a bold move. I shouldn’t try to dance while my body screams at me. But what else am I to do?
Stay in bed?
Stay away from the happy times waiting for me to enjoy?
But when you live with chronic pain, the happy times are far and in between.
So let’s say you decide to plan a special outing once every six months.
But of course I’m not talking about a real dance floor, though it would be fun to dance, I’m talking about the stage of life.
Dancers spend years practicing and learning how to make their bodies move gracefully on the stage. They also stay conscious of each move and the movements of the other dancers.
This is what those with chronic pain have to do as well.
Practice in your mind how you will spend your day out. Think about the ways you will need to move your body, and where the chairs are located so that you can sit down when you need to. (Knowing where the bathrooms are is also important.)
Life is indeed a stage. What are you going to do to get yourself out on the dance floor and enjoy life? I’ve already given you a few ideas, but what else can you do to find some happiness in the midst of your painful circumstances?
Happify.com posts in their article, “9 Tips for Finding Happiness When You’re Dealing With Chronic Pain,” suggests positive personality traits like optimism can impact the body’s perception of pain, and we’re not programmed to feel good while we’re feeling physical pain, and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to. We don’t have to let it ruin our day.
So, back to stepping out onto the stage of pain. Remember, that even if you fall, know that God will never judge you and he will give you the credit for trying. Walking our lives with grace is possible, mistake or no mistake. It just means remembering to not try doing it alone. God will goes with you when you step out onto the stage, and he will never leave you nor forsake you.
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.
Psalm 18:6 – In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
For years you’ve suffered with chronic pain and with several illnesses.
That after years of being on medications, they take a toll on your body.
The liver has many jobs to perform but it’s basic jobs include filtering blood coming from the digestive tract before it passes to the rest of the body, detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs, and producing bile which ends up back in the intestines.
You can see that each prescription and supplement that you put into your body goes through the liver. This means that the more drugs that you consume the greater the chance for liver disease and liver failure.
In addition, there are liver diseases that also compromise your liver. Medlineplus.gov lists in their article, “Liver Diseases,” liver diseases including hepatitis A, B, and C; diseases caused by drugs, poisons, or too much alcohol such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. For the complete list visit the websites pertaining to liver disease on medlineplus.gov.
You may think that liver failure isn’t that common, but it is. I currently I have three friends who are on the edge of a liver shutdown.
Let’s take a look at some of the signs of liver failure so that you don’t miss the signs of liver failure, and lower your risk of developing liver disease. Mayoclinic.org posts the article, “Acute Liver Failure,” and lists the symptoms some of which are pain in your upper right abdomen, abdominal swelling and disorientation or confusion. The article also discusses ways to help prevent liver failure include following the exact instructions that you receive with a medication and researching the risks of supplements and over the counter medications and know that you should only take the correct amount; in addition, you need to take care when using aerosol sprays as in cleaning agents and use of pesticides.
Though someone you know or even if it is yourself, is trapped in the grasp of liver failure, know that just as the Bible verse above says your cries for help are heard. God sees your distress and how sick you are. It may seem like nothing is going to change. However, there are treatments for the liver, and though it may be difficult to get one, there are also liver transplants available. God will walk with you through all of it. His ear will always be turned toward your voice.
Psalm 127:1 - A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
Up on a hill sat an old house. It’s windows had dark blue shutters and blue trim on the windowsills. There was a dark teal door with several dead bolts and chain sliders to bolt it shut. It took four steps to reach that door, open it and walk inside.
Looking around inside, you saw that the living room had recently been remodeled with light brown planking making up the floor. At first glance, it seemed to fill each room with its vertical strips. But there was a room at the end of the hall that still had old fashioned dark orange carpet. You may have wondered why this room was different than the rest, but you decided to continue your tour of the house.
There was a stairway that led to the upper floor of the house. Each room had a different theme such as the bathroom had seashells in glass containers on the sink top and seashell patterned shower curtain and towels.
Another room was all dressed up in rose colored walls and matching sheets. You went from room to room and decided that the house had another room added recently. It was evidenced by green paint only covering part of the room and planking hadn’t been completed yet.
You wondered how a room could be added on a second floor, but you decided not to give it another thought and decided to do more exploring downstairs.
There were rooms that had been created by simply putting up dividing walls or adding them on to the house by way of a new section of foundation which had been laid each time the owner wanted a new room.
But there was no more room on the land to add another room either downstairs or upstairs, yet a blueprint of the house was stretched across the kitchen table as if there might be a way to somehow get away with more construction.
Our bodies are like that house - under construction with new rooms added. But sometimes those additions consist only of illness and chronic pain rooms. One step at a time another room is built even if there can’t possibly be any room for it.
Yet, it happens anyway. We find ourselves at the doctor’s office not with a blueprint stretched across a kitchen table, but with x-rays and lab reports waiting to be reviewed.
We don’t want to add another room. We can’t add another room. Why does there have to be another room? But we sit quietly as the doctor explains what kind of affect another room is going to have on our quality of life. We try to argue that there can’t possibly be one more thing wrong with us. The doctor sighs and looks at us with those sympathetic eyes, and we know life is going to change yet again.
But a changing life doesn’t mean that it has to become out of control. Take a look at the article, “Steps to Help You Better Manage Multiple Chronic Medical Conditions,” on pinnaclecare.com. The article contains suggestions that may help you feel more in control such as coordinating care and medical records among all your physicians. This way you’ll get the benefit of medical recommendations forming a more comprehensive plan of treatment and lower your risk of medical errors. Another helpful suggestion is to understand your conditions and treatment options.
Finding that your medical health home needs an additional room doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With tips from the article above you’ll be able to get that plank flooring down in time for the completion of this new construction so that you’ll be ready to move into it when you need it the most.
Also, if you allow God to be the one who coordinates not just your medical care but your life as a whole, you won’t have to do the building alone thus avoiding the builder's (doctor's) labor isn’t in vain.
Psalm 25:16, 17 – Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.
There are problems all around us. Some are truly big, but most are pretty small in comparison with what other people are going through.
But then there are big things:
There are problems all around us. They’re just part of life, and they can become less difficult if we take one step at a time to either:
Fix the problem, get used to the problem, or believe the problem can turn into something good.
Let’s start with small problems and trying to fix the problem:
The next step is getting used to the problem:
Lastly, there are times when your problem turns into something good:
But I need to hold my hands up and say, “Stop!”
Remember the list of things that are big problems? Most of the time there are no easy fixes for them.
You can’t fix the death of a loved one, get used to having lung cancer or the pain caused by a chronic health condition. However, though it may be hard to grab a hold of, something good can come from your big problems:
Let’s take a look at the article, “7 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Strong Despite a Chronic Illness,” on webmd.com. Even though this article discusses marital relationships, it can be applied to other relationships as well. Some of their suggestions include easing stressful emotions like anxiety by identifying the root of the problem and prizing each other.
Finally, though at times trying to live with problems, especially those of a critical nature you may feel alone, you aren’t. There is someone who sees your afflictions and will free you from your anguish. God knows that the troubles of your heart are multiplying. He’s ready to hold you and tell you he loves you. He can help you with the small and big problems that you’re facing.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 - And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
It’s difficult for people who don’t have chronic pain to understand the burden that falls on the shoulders of those who do experience it. But why is it so difficult to understand chronic pain?
Most people have experienced painful occurrences in their lives. They may have fallen and broken their arm, or have experienced normal headaches. To them, pain’s window into their lives only opens now and then.
Therefore, when they look at someone with chronic pain they don’t understand why someone would put so much emphasis on it, and make it consume their lives. They don’t see that the window to pain stays open every day.
Those with temporary pain see pain as something that comes and goes; not something that lingers for days, months, years and perhaps the rest of their lives.
So for those of us who experience chronic pain, our emotions become raw in the face of one who has no idea what we’re going through -
But unless they’ve experienced our pain, they just can’t understand.
I’m not saying this to make someone feel bad, but to open their eyes to the reality of the kind of life those with chronic pain live. However, we need to show our pain-free friends the benefit of the doubt. They don’t understand. They shouldn’t be held accountable for something they haven’t experienced. This may bring those with pain much frustration, but we must cut them a break.
Yes, I said we must cut them a break. We may think that if we can sit down with them and try to give them glimpses through our open window that they’ll get what we go through. But sometimes no amount of explaining is going to help them understand.
One way, perhaps, is to have them walk with us through a few hours, or maybe even a day and watch our lives. But since that may not be possible for your pain-free friend to do, another way is to have them read the article, “A Day in the Life with Chronic Pain,” on psychologytoday.com. The article chronicles from the time an individual with chronic pain wakes up to the time they go to bed.
Another article, “My Invisible Daily Struggles as a Person With Chronic Pain,” on themighty.com chronicles daily activities and how the individual’s body feels throughout the day as they do them.
Though everyone doesn’t have a window to pain open all of the time, they can have glimpses into our lives and may begin to understand why it is difficult to understand chronic pain, and want to be part of relieving our burdens instead of adding to them. In the same way then, as the Bible verse above talks about, we can encourage those who are disheartened, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.
Isaiah 35:3 - Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way.
When battling a chronic health condition, there are times when we are unable to leave our homes. It may be we’re in so much pain that we can hardly take care of ourselves let alone go somewhere.
You have a toolbox, though, full of ways to combat the pain you’re experiencing and and decide to try and fix your day.
Whatever tool you choose to pull out sometimes nothing helps. And so you sit alone with tears streaming down your face, as you realize, life has passed you by and no one has noticed.
You’ve been left behind.
Here’s the other side of the story – What if you’re not the one who has a chronic health condition, but someone who is healthy? You get so busy with your day that you forget you also have a toolbox of your own, and you could be the one to lift off a burden.
The point is, we are charged to leave no one behind.
We aren’t to stay so busy in our lives that we forget there are others out there who would love to be busy and active in their world, but are unable to do so.
Being homebound can make each moment of our day drag on. We long for someone just to notice us and take away our loneliness.
No matter which side of life you find yourself, together we can become a community of friends helping friends. Huffingtonpost.com has some ideas on how to help someone who is chronically ill and may be homebound in their article, “Have a Friend With Chronic Illness? Here Are 10 Ways You Can Help.” Their ideas include giving companionship even if it’s only bringing them a hamburger and a milkshake, and validate their experience by letting them know that you see their struggle and recognize the destruction is real.
Life can be hard. But with a little effort we will leave no one behind; especially those who are homebound. We can be the ones to strengthen the feeble and unsteady, and be used by God to lift the burden of another soul.
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.