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A Day In The Life of Will: Living with chronic pain

February 4, 2019Will Leffert

The Gambling on Life series may be done, but I'm still living with chronic pain. This is an account of my day, and how I managed it.

I woke up at about 6 AM this morning. My girlfriend was downstairs doing laundry, and the buzzer on the dryer woke me up.

I hurt, but that's normal every morning. I typically hurt the most in my jaw (due to my TMJ disorder) and elbows (arthritis) when I get up in the morning. My knees hurt, too, but they always hurt.

I put on some clothes, grab my cane, and smoke a cigarette.. Smoking, while less than ideal, helps calm the muscle spasms with my TMJ disorder. I've lived with chronic pain long enough that I take relief where I can get it.

After my morning smoke, I start getting prepared. I get my clothes for the day set out, and begin my bathroom routine.

Once I'm finished in the bathroom, I get dressed. This can be challenging at times; I know, because of the weather, I'm going to be hurting more than usual. I throw on comfortable stuff; my favorite dress pants, a comfortable charcoal polo shirt, and a charcoal fleece.

Underneath that, though, I'm wearing long underwear.

If the temperature is below 60 degrees, I have to wear long underwear. If I don't, I'll be in so much pain from the cool air (even though it was 55f outside this morning), I will barely be able to focus.

I then, finally, take my medication.

Allegra for allergies, Meloxicam for pain. My doc recently gave it to me, and after trying it for over 2 weeks, I like it. It doesn't do much, but it does take the edge off, and I can take it without any mind-altering side effects. I remind myself that I need to call in to get my year-long prescription for it. As I said before, I take relief where I can get it.

A friend gave me a lift to work after that.

I have another cigarette, and then walk into the office.

Once I get settled in, I check news before I clock in. Nothing exciting. The Guardian put their US live feed up early this morning, so I have that window pulled up throughout the day.

7:55. Time to clock in and get to work.

I do a variety of things in my job; design ads, websites, and write code. I emailed with a client, talked with the other artists, and did tasks as they came in and caught up on work from last week that I didn't get to.

My elbows are still having issues, so I throw on my compression sleeves.

I already wear compression gloves all day at work for my hands, but I keep compression sleeves for my elbows and knees in my bag.

The compression sleeves aren't a great solution, however; they work, but after a while they get uncomfortable. They itch. They pinch.

I only keep them on for 30 minutes.

Lunch comes around, and I call my doctor. Get my prescription set up. Eat a Banquet frozen dinner. Read (I'm currently reading The Forever War series by Joe Haldeman). I smoke, and go back to work.

The pain gets progressively worse as it gets colder and wetter outside. My knees are killing me. I'm regularly rubbing my knees as if they were a stick and I was trying to start a fire.

Eventually, I put on my sleeves for my knees. I hate putting them on.

I have to go to the bathroom, remove my pants and long underwear, put the sleeves on, and carefully slide the long underwear back on so I don't mess up the positioning of the sleeves. I dropped my cane on the floor, and the sharp crack makes me wince. I have sensitive hearing, too.. Plus, the idea of someone knocking on the door asking me if I'm OK isn't exactly something I want to deal with.

Once I'm dressed again, I get back to work. The sleeves help, but about an hour later at 4, they are getting pretty uncomfortable. I decide to hold out until I came home.

Now, I'm home. I grabbed mail, changed into my comfortable clothes, fixed myself a tuna salad sandwich (I didn't have the energy for anything more involved, and I've got pre-packaged tuna salad), ate, and am now writing this.

I still hurt like hell, but at least I'm at home. If I need to cry, I can. If I need to lay down, I can.

I don't have to interact with people.

I don't have to put on a face or hide my pain.

I can just be me.

This is what its like living with chronic pain for me. For others, it may be different. Today's pain, overall, was around a 6. Without the Meloxicam, it would've been a 7 most likely. I've had more than a few level 8 pain days where I didn't even leave the house, and just balled my eyes out.

If you haven't, read the Gambling on Life series and get acquainted with pain management.

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