I usually give it about 5 days before I call a bad period a "flare", and now it's been over a week. As I mentioned in my last post, the nature of this pain is the worst and most widespread it's ever been and it seems to just be progressing. I can barely move my neck or get around today and was forced to cancel a weekend trip to see my closest college friends.
I don't write this post looking for sympathy and, in fact, I don't know anyone living with chronic pain that wants that. I'm writing today - as I am - because I think I have an obligation to be honest. After all, I set out on this blogging adventure to tell my story...for better or for worse...and I can't pretend this pain isn't disappointing, depressing or scary. It is. John and my family have reminded me that I've done more this summer than most healthy people could and I need to give myself a break. I hear them, but it's a little more complicated than that. I resent this growing inability to plan and, at the moment, I don't feel like I have control over my body or my future.
These trips and visits with friends are a blast, of course, but they're a lot more than fun. They're my attempt to freeze things and hold onto normalcy. They're what I wish for. I can dole out advice and reassurance to others until the cows come home, but what's the point if I don't allow my own words sink in? I need to slow down and not feel bad for feeling bad. The thing is, it's terribly obvious lately that I can't do the same things I used to and, while I don't tend to dwell on what's been "taken" from me, that's where I am right now. I can't ignore flares anymore and it's hard for many people to understand how things have changed (me, most of all).
Changing gears, I've really connected with one of my readers whose name is Betsy. She's a gem and, besides being a wife, a wonderful mother, and an avid volunteer, she also lives with Spondylitis and significant pain. To add to our similarities, she's also interested in pursuing her masters in social work. Recently in an e-mail exchange, Betsy shared this poem with me that's quite in line with my recent thinking...