- The ability to fall asleep and wake up feeling rested. That’s one of the first things to go and the hardest to deal with. I used to love naps but I was always in too much pain to actually fall asleep.
- Being able to get ready. Doing my hair caused pain. Washing my face and putting on makeup caused pain. Trying on clothes hurt so much and zippers on dresses became impossible.
- Sitting on a backless chair. I got to the point where I couldn’t hold my upper body up because it was in so much pain.
- Being able to sit for any period of time without needing to fidget and move. 30 min meetings, doctor appointments, sitting at restaurants, sitting in church – all of these became endurance tests to see how long I could go before letting the pain show.
- Cramming too many people into a car. I used to do this without thought and would always end up on someone’s lap. Once the pain came, situations like this became unbearable and I would suffer in silence until we arrived at our destination.
- Cuddling on a couch. Being on a couch means constant moving to find a comfortable position and multiple ice packs. It’s hard to fit another human into that. Especially if that someone didn’t really understand how much pain I was in.
- Working out. I got to the point where I wasn’t able to work out – it hurt way too much to move and I never had enough energy to even get there.
- The ability to have enough energy to cook a meal after working all day. On the bad days, it was a success if I was able to microwave a meal.
- Travel. For several years if I had to get on a plane, I would take every medication available to me because I knew how much it would hurt and how much the flight would cause me to flare up. I started avoiding travel as much as possible. I also stopped doing long car rides because being in a car for any length of time was excruciating. An hour was the most I could do and I would have to rest and recover for hours after the trip.
While I lost all of these things for a while, I now have so much more appreciation every single time I realize that I can do something that once was lost to me. Our culture says to “appreciate the little things” and I believe that one of the (few) beautiful things about experiencing chronic pain is that it truly makes you celebrate the small every day triumphs. When I was able to cook a meal again I was so happy I danced a little jig all by myself and texted a picture to my family. When I realized I could squeeze too many people into a car again I internally had such a happy moment. I still celebrate each time I recognize that I’m back doing things that were taken from me that I had previously taken for granted before.
Let’s celebrate all the little triumphs today and lift each other up!