I spend a great deal of my time in pain. Not earth-shattering pain that makes functioning impossible, just the normal kind that makes functioning difficult. This a caused by congenitally odd bone structure that has lead to a couple of surgeries and spirals of rehabilitation. For the most part my pain is invisible, partially because the wrist is far from the most important part of my body and partially because living with my wrist means that I am an expert on how to compensate for (or protect) it. This is helped greatly by the fact that even though my wrist continually* causes me pain, it doesn’t (usually) restrict my range of motion. Nor is the pain I experience continuous or constant.
When I do certain movements or carry weight, my wrist inevitably hurts. When I do other movements often enough and over a sustained period, this inevitability is maintained. This means that I can change/manage the levels of pain I experience by changing the activities I engage in. And of course, this means that what I do becomes a subject open for discussion. There are some things I need to do on a day to day basis that make pain unavoidable… these include brushing my teeth, dressing, putting clothes out to dry, washing dishes, writing reports and the like. There are others that are discretionary, like crocheting pretty things (or writing a blog).
I wish I were better at navigating my relationships with people whose presence makes my life more manageable. At my last flat, I didn’t do dishes – I cooked an extra night instead. My family assumes that I’ll not be lifting and carrying anything heavy and that on some days I won’t be lifting anything heavier than a fork with food on it. I am grateful for the help I get and I don’t know what to do with the guilt I feel when I want to spend the day making a scarf that I know will make my wrist hurt when I could be resting and helping clear away the dinner table. I compromise. I don’t crochet for three hours the day before we have guests over. And when we have unexpected guests I take painkillers and lift things.
Guilt is not often a useful response in me. So I tend to channel that into learning how to crochet flowers and making things for the people who make my life better. This strikes me as a somewhat hilarious option in that it maintains my overall levels of pain while increasing my moment to moment level of joyfulness!
*as distinct from an unbroken continuum, it has a the nature of repetition with pauses.