Living In Chronic Pain

For nearly 6 weeks I have had a toothache. It started with a cracked tooth…..I received a crown and the pain began. My frequent visits back to the dentist to eliminate the pain included having the crown shaved down because it was too high. The pain would come and go in it’s intensity but never completely gone.  I lived on ibuprofen daily which is uncommon for me. My theory is “grin and bare it” and use a natural remedy. That wasn’t working. As the intensity of the pain grew stronger I grew more and more miserable. I found myself giving up hope for ever feeling better, losing faith in dentists and in life. I wondered what I could do to pound the pain out. I was sleep deprived because my pulse pounded in my jaw when I laid down at night. I sat up in bed whining and angry.

It dawned on me that this must be what it’s like for people who live in chronic pain. It’s hard to focus on anything else but the pain, and exhaustion. When I am sleep deprived I have what I call “stinkin thinkin”. Nothing is positive and everything looks awful. I would have tried anything to make the pain go away.  I know this to be the case with friends and family who have chronic pain. I understand how it has been now that I had my experience. Bless you people who live in chronic pain!! I am so sorry for your suffering.
I am a healthy person and don’t like pain, nor do I have it all that often. When I do, I am a complainer because I want it to go away. Misery and suffering is a word to describe the feeling of constant gnawing pain. There were lessons learned and always will be, but, can we while we’re in the middle of it all? My brother has lived in chronic pain for years. The whole time I was experiencing my pain I thought of him and how his life has been impacted by the constant pain.
I felt grateful for my pain free life and my ability to sleep through the night (most of the time). Gratitude became my friend. Grateful for the energy and strength to get up in the mornings, to walk, to talk, to drive, to eat (soft food), to breathe to see beautiful sunsets and overcast morning skies. Life was not about how much I could get done in a day but grateful I could do anything. I made a point to visit someone who needed cheering up so I could forget my own pain.I became acutely aware of of what to be grateful for and often would write those things down. I was grateful for the body parts I had that functioned, and for family who loved me and felt badly for me, and for friends who made me soup.
My focus was always; “how do I handle this pain today?” “What can I do to endure and embrace it?” Living in pain zaps your energy, it is depressing , it is hard to have hope, make plans, or see a light at the end of the tunnel. Every morning when I woke up tired and hurting I would tell myself; “you can take a nap today or just sit.” That was the hope I gave myself. It was a daily affirmation of self-caring. It’s not a bad idea for those of us who are madly running about with busy lives taking care of the world to stop and take care of self.
There was an end for me. After swelling, bruising, and infection I had a root canal. Every request I made in my prayers was answered. I asked that the pain go away, that the dentist be gentle with me, I could breathe during the procedure and it wouldn’t take long. I got it all. My dentist referred me to an endondontist . He was a social worker turned dentist. He was very caring and gentle and only took 45 minutes.
I am not completely pain free 2 days out from the root canal, but it is amazing how wonderful it is to not have a constant pain day after day. I wanted to scream; “Thank you , Thank you, I am free from constant throbbing pain!”
I am grateful for lessons learned. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward and find something each day to focus on. Like a ballerina who does turns or fouette’s one after another. They have a spot on the wall they look at to keep their focus. The same is true for those in chronic pain. Find something each day to be grateful for and to focus on besides the pain. When all I thought about was the pain it seemed to amplify. It helped me to find something else to focus on.
My heart goes out to those who live with pain day after day. My hope is you find relief in the simple things around you.