When people find out I've had chronic pain since childhood I usually get a couple different reactions. First people are shocked that someone so young and seemingly normal looking (if they only knew:) could be in daily pain. And then almost always they ask me what the pain feels like. It's such a difficult question to answer. I've had intense fatigue and some level of chronic pain since I was 11. It's hard for me to even remember what it feels like to be normal. I usually tell people to imagine having a really bad flu-exhaustion, pain all over, nausea, dizziness-now imagine feeling that way almost everyday for years.
What would your life be like? Would you still be joyful? Would you be able to work? What if you still had to work even if you really couldn't? How would your relationships be different? Would you be able to go to church and Bible study every week? Would you be able to handle basic tasks like cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping? Would you be able to think about anything else but the relentless pain?
That is how I and millions of people with chronic conditions feel. Everyday is a struggle. Every small, daily task is a struggle. And if we sometimes seem a little grumpy it's because we feel terrible. And if we sometimes seem a bit too obsessed with our condition it's because it's hard to ignore something that never leaves you alone.
Sometimes when I daydream I imagine what it would be like to feel normal. To wake up in the morning in no pain. To be able to work full time and not worry about how I will support myself. To think about things other than how bad I feel all the time. Maybe someday on this Earth I will know a day like that but if I don't I know there will be a day when I will and until then I choose to trust Him.
How do you explain your chronic condition to others?