When was the last time you had the flu? Perhaps, you started out having a throbbing headache, which you tried anything and everything in order to get rid of it. And then you didn’t want to eat because your stomach was churning like a Ferris wheel. In fact, you ended up leaning over the toilet for at least 10 minutes at a time. And finally, It all came out! Everything you’d consumed that day, including your medication.and supplements. It was so intense that your throat hurt because of the toll this unwanted regurgitation took on your body. So you immediately went to bed, hoping you wouldn’t purge anything else, and woke up repeatedly through the night. Hot, cold, change clothes, repeat. All night long!
I’m sure most of you have unfortunately experienced this. It’s a given that being sick sucks for all of us, especially if you live alone. While my furry kids are always here to comfort me, they don’t have the ability to bring me a glass of 7 Up or put more water on the washcloth for my forehead. This is how being sick affects me, in addition to my chronic pain.
The first paragraph describes how I felt for three days and two nights. What made it unbearable, though, was my fear of taking my prescriptions for my cervical dystonia. I take three different medications, three times a day. And I knew after the first night of sitting next to the toilet with my head buried in my hands, that if I took the pills, they wouldn’t stay down. So three days without medication was excruciating! “How?” you might ask. Here you go!
*It’s necessary to take my pills with food. Because I was unable to eat solid food for three days, that was another reason I couldn’t manage my usual chronic pain via pills.
*The spasming of my neck was uncontrollable due to the fact that I didn’t have any meds in my body to help calm my muscles.
*My other drugs are focused on managing my pain. Without them, the pain was unfathomable!
*To make matters worse, I couldn’t sleep. The number one side effect of all of my medications is drowsiness. Without these chemicals to alter my sleeping patterns, I was awake all the time. As I was writing this, the image of Elaine on Seinfeld popped into my mind. Do you remember the episode where she couldn’t sleep because her back hurt so much from the uncomfortable bed she had to sleep on when they visited Jerry’s parents in Florida? Let’s take a two minute pause for some comic relief!
The luxury for Elaine was that she was able to take painkillers, and you see how that affected her. But for me, there was no relief from pain! A neck that was tired of moving back and forth! And no chance for sleep to help me get some much needed rest, which I felt was the best and only medicine I could take without fear. Even that wasn’t an option!
You can imagine how happy, yet weary, I was three days later when I took a chance on solid food again. This allowed me to go back to taking my pharmaceuticals, which meant a night that was finally devoted to sleep. I’m not sure how other people with chronic pain or diseases deal with their health when they get the flu or anything else that negatively impacts their already impaired health. All I could do was wait it out! It felt like winter. You know, the doom and gloom feeling that winter is never going to come to an end. But in this case, it felt like my flu was never going to disappear. I get tired just thinking about how miserable I was, but there you go. This is why I haven’t written my weekly post for the past few weeks. I simply had no energy to do anything else!
MY HOPE: Hopefully, none of you will ever have to experience chronic pain in addition to the common cold, flu, or any other illness the average person typically gets that most people can easily recover from. While getting sick is no fun for anyone, one feels especially helpless when you are also contending with chronic pain or a chronic disease.
I also hope that one day there will be another way to treat the symptoms of chronic pain so that I don’t have to rely on prescription drugs. In this way, I can still be sick with the common cold or the flu. Yet, I will have the ability to get the rest I need in order to recover.
My hope goes even further. If you know of someone who has chronic pain and they get sick on top of that, do something for them. Take them some soup and crackers. Ask if you can pick up anything from the store. Make some pudding, or bring some applesauce. We won’t have hospital masks at the door and obviously wouldn’t want you to stick around so you can get sick too. But you have to know this would mean the world to us, because in that state of mind, it is very difficult to even know what we want or need. When I was in that state, I was literally paralyzed and couldn’t do anything at all. Just knowing someone cares and will be there for you before they’re even asked to do something…that is priceless!