I started writing this post on the train. My legs and my back were in some serious pain, possibly the most pain I’ve been ever in. It was all I could do not to cry out, but then it’s not really a ‘crying’ sort of pain. It’s more of an angry, frustrated moan. And anyway, what would I cry out for? Help? No one can do anything, and even when they try I dismiss them with an off-the-cuff, “oh don’t worry, I’m used to it,” remark. But the truth is, I’m not used to it. After all this time, I still don’t know how to cope with a flare up.
I realised my flare had started last Sunday. The pain was slightly worse, more pronounced, than usual and it was starting to impact on the limited movement I normally experience. Through the week things got progressively worse and during a fifteen minute encounter with the London underground in rush hour, I stood in agony and contemplated my options. These included things like sitting on the floor in the middle of the heaving tube carriage or begging someone for their seat, through to stabbing myself in the eye with a pen or pulling the emergency break lever. The pen option seemed like the option least likely to anger the suited commuters surrounding me, but quite frankly it wasn’t very appealing. Needless to say, I didn’t do any of the things I contemplated; instead I told myself to breathe through it, and breathe through it I did.
Once off the tube and on to the train for a wonderful weekend in Yorkshire, the pain had started to burn. I decided there and then joint pain is worse than muscle pain, I was sure of it. That was until my muscles started to throb and I started to feel nauseous, and then I decided muscle pain was worse. I thought about drugs I could try and treatments I could test, I thought about changes I could make to my diet and lifestyle, and then I thought about what I would say to my GP when I went back to see him. “Me again. No, going away to ‘see if things improved’ didn’t work. What’s next?” I go through this cycle every single flare up. Every single flare up.
After a while I stopped feeling sorry for myself and start looking around the train carriage. I wondered who else around me was in pain. How many of us in that carriage were sat in silence but screaming inside, desperate for someone to come and wave a magic wand and ease the pain, even for just a minute. My suspicion is: probably most of us. Whether it’s our pain or the pain of a loved one, chronic pain or fleeting pain, pain that can be eased or pain that can’t, pain in our hearts or a pain in our heads, we are all coping with so many things day by day. I know that today my worry is a flare up, but yours may well be something else. A family member’s health, stress at work or home, anxiety, depression, a baby you can’t have or an illness you don’t want, a longing for something you haven’t found or a desire for something you have… the list goes on.
Inside we’re all screaming, but outside we keep on keeping on. Why? How? We all have our reasons, our escape routes to take us where we need to be. I know there will be people calmly reading this, not screaming. Not screaming when you have many a justifiable reason to do so. For that I wanted to say well done, and I dedicate this post to you.