Here’s the thing about chronic pain – or at least how I’ve experience chronic pain – it’s sneaky. It’s like a slow leak, just under the radar, slowly draining my energy and my patience and my ability to handle life. It’s not enough to keep me down, just enough to be there in he back of my mind. The human brain is an amazing thing and as long as I keep busy and have something to focus on, it’s almost like the pain isn’t there. Almost. I ignore the extra work it takes to stand up, or the slight limp because my muscles are so tense. I don’t dwell on how it keeps me up at night because I just can’t get comfortable no matter what. I push it to the back of my mind until I almost forget about it. Almost.
Part of me doesn’t think I have the right to tell people about my pain, or to give myself any sort of pass for needing extra support when I manage it. I sort of feel responsible for my pain – because I haven’t treated it, because I haven’t talked to my doctor. Obviously if I was really that bad I’d see my doctor or take something, and I don’t. So if I’m not going to fix the problem I have to live with the problem, I have to accept it. I can’t let it affect my life, or at the very least I can’t let it affect the lives of the people around me.
Most of the time I fail at that goal.
I fail to have patience with my kids. I fail to get everything done I want to. I fail to be a good friend. I fail to be there when people need me. I fail as a wife and a mother and a friend. I fail to be a productive member of society.
So why don’t I just get it treated?
The obvious choice with pain is to take pain relievers and get on with life. But those don’t work for me – taking enough to take the edge off the pain leaves me with that sluggish dopey feeling. At least through the pain I can still be up and moving, can still carry on a conversation, can still drive.
So why haven’t I talked to a doctor about the cause?
That’s been my struggle for the last month. After almost a year of issues and 6 months acknowledging the pain, I am trying to get treatment. I’ve gotten bloodwork done, but I didn’t tell my doctor about the pain – he’s already been dismissive of my issues and the day I was in to see him was so abrupt and short with me I already felt bad for wasting his time. Plus I don’t want him in my bits – pelvic pain is something that needs a certain level of rapport and he just doesn’t have it. I have plans to get into the clinic next month.
But the real reason? I’m scared. I’m scared of what it is – even though I don’t have bleeding or discharge or any other symptom besides the pain, I worry it’s more serious than just a pain issue. I worry treatment will involve drugs and surgery and risks. I’m a rational person, I’m aware that if it is cancer delaying treatment will only make it worse, but I’m still terrified.
I’m also terrified there won’t be a cause – that it’s not really there at all, that it’s all in my head. I’m scared that my body is perfectly healthy and there’s no medical reason that I fail at everything. Maybe I just can’t handle life.
Pain is sneaky – it doesn’t just affect your body, it affects your mind, your relationships, your sense of self.