Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is life-changing. Chronic illnesses can take the simplest, most uninteresting life and turn it upside down into a new and completely different life. Chronic illnesses have taken my life and changed it in many ways. But there are three particular areas that it has changed it and not for the better.
Chronic illnesses are definitely life changing. Have you every had something so profound in your life happen that no matter what, changes the way you see life? Has your life or someone you love had their life changed due to an illness or even chronic pain? Mine has and not always for the best. But it hasn’t been just my life that has changed but my family’s.
Hearing the words that you have a chronic illness is hard but knowing that from that day forward, life will be different. When I heard the words that I have a chronic illness and I will always suffer from chronic pain where two big days in my life. Not like the days when my children were born but close. I remember the day that I was told that I have Pancreatitis and Ulcerative Colitis. But I think being told that I would live in constant pain was harder than the diseases. At least with the diseases, there is a chance for a cure. With chronic pain, let alone me getting a new spine, I would be like this for the rest of my life.
Chronic pain was a life sentence for me. I was a fairly active person and enjoyed always doing something. With the chronic illnesses that I have, I can somewhat control them both by things that I eat and drink. But what will control the chronic pain? Besides living a life on pain meds, I didn’t foresee anything else that would help me.
Chronic Pain vs Chronic Illnesses
There seems to be a lot of people who look at living with pain as a symptom of an illness and not something separate. To me, chronic pain is its own entity. I would, for the most part, live with any chronic illness and choose not to live another day with pain. That’s a huge statement for me to say but let me explain.
Pain is so controlling when it comes to your daily living. Granted so can an illness but most parts, illnesses come and go but chronic pain, at least with me, ever goes away. I live each day with some degree of pain. Whether it be an annoying twinge in the back to down right in bed all day, I suffer from some sort of pain. And living with both, I would choose not to live with chronic pain over an illness any day.
Activity, What Activity?
So what has changed since I was diagnosed with chronic pain and illnesses? The first thing that has greatly changed and I sort of mentioned it in the beginning of this post is activity. My life has always been very active. I was always wanting to do something or go somewhere no matter what. But once my diagnosis was handed down, I haven’t been that active. I don’t go many places, or do many things unless it has to do with my children. I use to like to play tennis and other sports, like volleyball. Now I watch and don’t participate at all. Being on my feet for a long period of time is also something I can’t do now. I have to sit and rest a lot.
It is hard to watch and not be a participate but you learn over time that you would rather not wake in a great amount of pain, more than I will already will. I choose to be less active than to move with a pain level at a 9 or a 10. I have lived with pain at that level and know that its hard to function. It’s hard to be a “normal” person with pain levels that high.
Working 9 To 5
The next thing that changed greatly would be working for a living. When I was healthy, I had an amazing job working in the Coroner’s office doing autopsies. I quit my job when I found out that I was pregnant and had planned on going back later, but once I found out I had back issues, I knew there was no way I could go back. Not only for the long hours but standing for long periods of time and working on cement floors. All that would have taken a worse tole on me.
I tried to go back in between my 3rd and 4th surgery and do a desk job for a mortgage company. I did that for about a year until I had to do my 4th surgery and my addiction came to light more. Please see my series on addiction, here. I worked ok part-time but when I needed my 4th surgery and I became more addicted to pain meds, I wasn’t able to work much more after that.
I’ve thought about going back to work many times since my life has gotten a little bit more under control. But I don’t know how well my body will handle a day-to-day job. I can’t always be guaranteed that I can get out of bed the next day and what kind of employment will permit that kind of workflow? I can’t think of many. So I don’t try. I am afraid of failing after all this time. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll try again.
By Air, Sea, or Land
The final way that my life has changed since I was diagnosed is traveling. Traveling used to be so easy before I was diagnosed either from chronic illness or pain. I haven’t traveled a lot since I was diagnosed with pain but the few times I went to see my brother in Chicago, I had to really plan ahead. I couldn’t over pack nor could I forget anything important like any of my meds.
One of the most important things about traveling and chronic pain and illnesses is giving yourself enough time to make it from point A to point B. Airports have gotten so big that there needs to be enough time to make it to all the places you need to be. The other hard part of traveling, especially on a plane is being comfortable. I have found that sitting in the plane seats for a long period of time just kills my back. So coming prepared is one of the best things that I can do. Make sure to have a travel pillow, a blanket, a good book, and a face mask. What more can a girl ask for?
These have been the hardest things change since I was diagnosed with chronic pain and illnesses. Travel hasn’t been that hard since I only do it once or twice every few years but working and daily activities have been more difficult. I spend a lot of time wishing that I was able to do things like I was able to before.