Pain throws down the gauntlet the moment I wake up in the morning. As I’m lying in bed, taking stock of my symphony of aches, pain sends its troops with a message: “Pull the covers back up and maybe we’ll show you mercy. But we make no promises if you get out of this bed.”
One by one, the many fingers of my pain announce themselves like students responding to a teacher taking attendance. Stinging, burning hands: “Here.” Stiff, achy, throbbing knees, wrists, and shoulders: “We’re all present.” Right hip? “Sorry, I missed a few weeks, but I’m back.” And so it goes until I’ve assessed my aches and made a battle plan. Then I rise again to face another day.
A never-ending battle
Severe chronic pain is common in people with sarcoidosis and impacts the quality of life of patients and their partners.
In the early years of my sarcoidosis, I would wake up some days and notice that something was different: I wasn’t in pain. That hasn’t happened in over a decade, which is why I’ve given up on living pain-free. Instead, I focus on making my pain manageable.
I lose the battle most days, but I’m not alone. An estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. had chronic pain in 2016, and nearly 20 million reported high-impact chronic pain.
Erasing the stigma
Chronic pain takes a physical and psychological toll and is largely misunderstood by the general population. I hope that conversations about chronic pain will continue beyond the month of September — otherwise known as Pain Awareness Month — so that one day, there will be no stigma.
My pain doesn’t make me weak. It doesn’t mean that my threshold or tolerance for pain is lower than yours. It doesn’t mean that I abuse opioids. It means that I struggle to do things that people without chronic pain take for granted — all day, every day.
Managing chronic pain requires a strength that, hopefully, others will never have to know about.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.