Coping with chronic pain

As many long–time readers will know, my wife has been suffering from chronic abdominal pain for well over a decade. You don’t need to know the details but one of the biggest challenges is not knowing from day to day how things will be. It means that plans can change overnight and long–term planning is virtually impossible.

This weekend is a perfect example. My intention was to go to Dartmoor for a wander around the North Moor. However, today I have had to cancel my trip. This is doubly frustrating as I had to do the same thing a couple of weeks ago.

Accepting uncertainty and adapting has been an important lesson in staying sane. We are grateful that she has made so much progress in the last three years and has been able to reduce her medication. My (very) early retirement has been a major positive in this process.

Along with the day to day variability, we have also encountered seasons when things go really well and others where life is hard and when things go into reverse. Hard won ground seems to be surrendered. This is especially tough and we have been through one of those periods this winter.

The medical profession has a surprisingly limited understanding of the causes of chronic pain and its treatment. For those suffering, it’s a constant physical and mental battle, with no remission for good behaviour.

As a bystander, all you can do is help and encourage. Living out the limitations of someone else’s medical condition is not easy, but counting the positives and being flexible helps. We know several people who are in a much worse position, which gives a sense of proportion.

Frustrating as it may be, there is no pat answer to chronic pain. Counting blessings and celebrating small triumphs keep us going. It is also important to have a safety valve, which is why I love getting out into the hills. For a brief moment, I have a true sense of freedom. I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity soon.



23 thoughts on “Coping with chronic pain”

  1. Yi, i’m an avid follower of your blog but as I’m stuck not able to do much because of chronic pain & illness. My other half has supported me and I can share how much help that has been and I’m sure your lovely wife feels the same. Keep on with what you are doing. x

  2. A brave post Robin. I was sorry to learn this. I had 4 or 5 years of chronic pain before an operation to remove a tumour in the late 1990s which for me was a miracle cure. I can only sympathise with you and your wife. The pain was not just felt by me but also by a lot of understanding people around me. Hope your wife’s symptoms ease, and that you get out and about soon.

  3. Sorry to hear this ol’ fruit. The good news is that you’re knocking about the place (gathering dust on the retirement scrap-heap) to help out which must be a big boost for your wife – or perhaps she might think otherwise?
    There will always be other other weekends – and besides, this weekend’s weather was looking like it was shaping to be really good – and that does seem to be at total odds to your usual trips. It always pours down with rain on your trips!

    Give your other half a big cuddle from us readers. After all, we all know that she has to put up with you every day on top of the difficulties you’ve outlined today, and if you’ve had to cancel a weekend she now has you to deal with too!

    She deserves a medal, but I suppose chocolates, flowers and a big glass of red might come close!.

    Look after yourselves,

  4. So sorry to hear about the issues your wife and yourself have to deal with. It must be incredibly frustrating and saddening sometimes. I had fabulous support from Thomas when dealing with ‘just’ a Morton’s Neuroma problem last year. I’m lucky as I can walk again with little pain, but for some time didn’t know if it would ever end. I just count myself lucky now, and hope for the best for you both.

  5. A real disappointment I know Robin. My wife went through similar (but lesser severity by the sounds of it) problems a few years back. As you say, support and being flexible in when you get out is what you have to do. The silver lining is that at least all things being well at home you can get out without having to worry about work. Not much but at least you can get out at short notice sometimes.

    I still reckon the stars will align this year so that we coincide busy lives for a trip sometime before the winter 😀

    all the best, Dave

  6. Robin sorry to hear about your wife and I do know exactly how it feels as my wife Mary was bad for nearly 3 years with Complex regional pain syndrome after a bad break in her leg. I know that it can be difficult and frustrating for you and your family and the pain that your wife has gone through is not something that many understand. Thankfully Mary is much better now and I hope that there will be the same positive outcome for your wife. The hills will be waiting for you when you can get out and about to enjoy them.

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