When Little Things Become Big Struggles Because of Chronic Pain

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In our daily life, we go through hundreds, or thousands, of small, minuscule movements each day. Most of which we probably don’t even think about doing. We have reflexes and natural instincts.  We have daily tasks, and chores. We work, we play, we exercise. We inhale, we exhale, we blink. We wake up in the morning and stretch before climbing out of bed to face another day. We go to sleep at night (or mid day because naps are amazing). We dream, we snore, we drool. We, as a human race, tend to take a lot for granted. 

For some people, these small, minuscule tasks, take on a much bigger challenge. People living with chronic pain face daily struggles, that other people may see as natural and second nature. For someone with chronic pain a simple act such as sleeping can be torturous. The insomnia, not able to get into a somewhat comfortable position. The anger and frustration. The physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. The morning stretch that some people find joyful and refreshing can be life or death for someone suffering from chronic pain. The unknown of if it will provide momentary relief or throw muscles into a bigger spasm.

Simple, necessary tasks become stressful and exhausting undertakings. Showering and washing your hair, for example. Usually, this is something relatively quick and easy. However, for others it can take two or three times as long due to the slow, meticulous movements to try and reduce and minimize the pain. Slowly shampooing, and taking a break before conditioning. For women, (or men, it’s 2019, I don’t judge) shaving your legs can feel like you’re an octopus with 8 legs to shave instead of 2. Blow drying and styling hair after showering is another daunting task. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) you sit on your bed in a towel for an hour, trying to work up the energy and mindset to keep on goin’. Some days, honestly, it may just be easier to shave your head.

We live in a world of online shopping but grocery shopping and errands still exist. Some people (like me), love (or used to love) grocery shopping. Walking the store, checking out the sales, deciding what you want to eat for the week, and most importantly people watching make for a fun Sunday morning. Finding little treats and unexpected surprises. Now, the surprises are the quick onset of pain and the feeling that you need to take a nap in the middle of the cereal aisle. Once shopping is done and you finally make it home, you need to take the groceries into the house. Yikes. As if dragging yourself to the checkout wasn’t enough? Some of us used to be (and still try to be) one trippers. Load up your arms like a pack mule and refuse a second trip back to the car. Well, when the chronic pain is mediocre at best, that isn’t the smartest idea. (I’m not known for my smart ideas…) One trip, turns into two trips, turns into three trips, turns into “Well, I’ll just grab the cans of seltzer out one by one as I want them”.


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Cleaning. Oof. We all need and enjoy a clean house, right? And clean clothes? I personally live alone, so all chores and care for my overall well being all fall on me. (My maid is on a long-term vacation) I used to actually enjoy getting up on a Saturday morning, making some French press coffee, blasting some music, and cleaning my apartment and doing laundry. Chronic pain has made that much less enjoyable. I am very, very fortunate that I do have “good” days (a good day is a day where my pain is at a 6-8 instead of a constant 10). A lot of people who suffer from chronic pain are not that fortunate, and I do not take any of those days for granted. Instead of cleaning everything in one day, I do the bare minimum and avoid having friends or family over. I do it one room, and one item at a time.

Related Article: How to clean when you’re chronically ill

For example, the bathroom. I’ll clean the toilet, take a break. Clean the sink, take a break. Clean the shower, take a break. Sweep and Swiffer, take a nap. This goes room by room. There are plenty of days that I barely make it through one room. My poor cat. A simple scoop of the liter box can be absolutely destroy my arms and back. Poor thing has dealt with many days of a full box, but bless her little heart, has never pooped on the floor (everyone please knock on all the wood, right now. Thanks!).

My laundry is in the basement so it is a PROCESS. Filling up my basket, carrying it down, bending down to put it in the washer, going back up to my apartment. Going back to the basement and bending down to transfer to the dryer, going back upstairs. And then, finally one last trip back down, to load up the basket and return to my apartment. Realistically, one load of laundry a day is all that is going to happen. And you’re joking if you think it’s going to get folded and packed away within 10-14 business days. (Also, I will fully admit that it is mid-March and all of my Christmas decorations, including my artificial tree, are still up. Send help)

Other simple, silly things that I, and other people suffering from chronic pain, struggle with are opening cans, and bottles (the day I struggled to crack open a cold beer after a long day was a sad, sad day.) There are days that tying shoes, putting your hair in a pony tail, and zipping up a jacket are difficult. Cooking dinner is a journey. From planning, to preparing, to executing, to finally eating. Standing, stirring, and flipping is exhausting. Dishes, when you don’t have a dishwasher? Ha. Not going to happen same day. It’s embarrassing as it is frustrating.

You can probably see the trend by now. If you don’t suffer from chronic pain, have patience and understanding for those who do. If you do suffer from chronic pain, don’t give up. Don’t get down on yourself. You are not alone. 

Also Read: Tips to household chores to avoid fibromyalgia flare 


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