I am still learning how to function with this constant companion of mine called chronic pain…always trying to see how much I can do, how far I can push myself, how much I can “get away with” before it knocks me down. I am still trying to accept this familiar yet relentless and sometimes all-encompassing pain and exhaustion. I am also trying to simply enjoy my life as best I can.
On the good days, which are few and far between, I can end up doing too much and throw myself into a flare and need to rest. Rest…I am growing to hate that word, it now has a negative connotation for me and it really doesn’t describe what is going on with my body while I’m in a flare. I am truly recovering. Just like someone has to recover from surgery, my body needs time to recover from a flare.
The best way I can begin to describe a flare is, imagine Jillian Michael’s from The Biggest Loser just worked you out 12 hours a day for 7 days straight, during which time you have the worst case of the flu imaginable! No joke…it can actually be worse than that at times too! Sometimes when my back pain is flaring up, it feels like someone has reached into the middle of my spine and is trying to rip it straight out of my body. That may sound like an exaggeration but let me tell you, there is really no other way to describe it. I would welcome the 32 hours of back labor I had with my daughter during those times!
Unfortunately, I never know exactly when a flare will hit me. Some triggers are obvious, like doing too much but other things like the weather, stress, an infection or getting the flu can also trigger a flare. Additionally, I never know how long it will take for me to recover from a flare. Those are the days/weeks/months where I have to just be patient with myself and “rest”.
Over the past year, it feels like I am almost in a constant flare. I do still have some good days here and there but I have also seen a decline in my ability to participate in a lot of activities. Last year at this time, I could manage going to the grocery store for a few things, if someone went with me. Now it’s a rare occasion that I am able to walk through the front door of the store, let alone walk through all the aisles. Once in a while I have a day or two where the pain isn’t so intense and my energy levels don’t resemble that of a 90-year-old woman. Those are my good days! The days that I don’t want to waste spoons on things like grocery shopping. I want to spend time with those who are important to me!
This past weekend, to my surprise, I had a couple good days! It’s times like these that pushing myself a little beyond my limit, especially on a good day, was worth every spoon I had to borrow! John had made plans to visit his daughter Samantha and her boyfriend Austin. She moved to Indianapolis several years ago to go to college, so we don’t get to see her as often as we’d like. I regrettably had to miss Samantha’s graduation from The Institute of Arts earlier this year due to a nasty flare. It really is difficult for me to plan things anymore because I never know how I am going feel. (see my post “Unreliable“) So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be feeling up to going with him this time!
We decided to stay over Saturday night and meet Samantha and Austin for breakfast on Sunday as well. John travels a lot for work, so we were able to use his Marriott rewards. I am truly grateful for that because their beds are actually somewhat comfortable and they’ll give you extra feather pillows, a comfy robe, etc. We even had little chocolates on the bed when we arrived!
The Colts were playing the Bengals on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium and we knew the city would be packed. Because of that, we decided to have dinner in Fort Wayne before heading down to avoid the crowds. After dinner and a few hours drive, we checked in at the Marriott North around 8 pm and took a cab downtown to meet Samantha and Austin at The Slippery Noodle Inn. We usually stay downtown but it was a last-minute decision to stay over and all the hotels downtown were full.
The Slippery Noddle Inn is a blues bar and well, blues is my favorite genre! It is also Indiana’s oldest bar, so that was pretty cool! After watching the band for a few hours, we made plans to meet up with Samantha and Austin for a late breakfast the next morning and went back to the hotel. Our little overnight trip couldn’t have been better! Breakfast Sunday morning was awesome and it was so nice to just sit and visit for a bit. John and I had a great time! We seriously needed to get away even if it was just overnight and it was great to see Samantha again and finally get to meet her new boyfriend Austin.
Remember earlier I talked about recovering? Well, the day after coming home, it felt like my entire body was screaming! I truly think I could hear my muscles screaming out in pain! It was bad enough I was reduced to shuffling around with my walker. I am still feeling the effects of our little trip today, almost a week later, and I knew I was borrowing spoons during our visit but it was spoons well spent!!