I’ve never had that thought before… I’ve always been able to rise above, to consider that “this too shall pass” and, yet, it came, unbidden, as I was sitting at the dining room table one day not long ago – “I don’t think I can live like this.”
That thought hasn’t appeared again. It never occurred to me before. What has changed? Maybe it’s perimenopause. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s true? No, I don’t think so… at least not today.
I’ve lived with diagnoses of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis (and a few other things) for more than 10 years. I’ve worked 40+ hours per week. I haven’t asked for or really considered disability. So why did I have that thought? My marriage is basically happy. My life is pretty good. And yet, on that day, in that moment, I considered another option.
And then I felt guilty. I am not dying of an incurable disease like ALS or cancer. I do not have a progressively worsening diagnosis such as MS. And yet the pain can be so debilitating that in a moment of weakness that thought occurred to me.
The strange weather this season has taken a toll on everyone I know with chronic pain such as migraines or arthritis or anything else. Here in tropical Minnesota it was 80 degrees F (or maybe it’s 80 F* degrees?) on March 15th!! Not normal weather for this part of the country. Of course, within two weeks there were severe frosts that took out a lot of budding fruit trees. On April 19, 2011, I documented a snowfall on my digital camera. And the weather has bounced around from Summer to Winter then briefly to Spring. Those kinds of atmospheric changes wreak havoc on anyone with chronic pain.
And the thunderstorms these last few nights kept me awake… which adds to the cycle – lack of sleep, increase in stress, increase in pain.
One of my favorite speakers, Dr Edward Creagan of Mayo Clinic, gave a presentation this week and said the basics to reduce stress include: walk 30 minutes a day; strength training; restorative sleep (and he added “which most of us never get”); plant-based diet. When a woman asked him about insomnia, he suggested winding down for 30-45 minutes before bed. I wanted to ask him “What about when the hot flashes wake me up?” “What about when the pain wakes me up?” “What about when the I-just-can’t-get-comfortable rotisserizing starts?” And I know the answer is “Go back to the basics.”
It’s that simple — if only it were that easy…