My Chronic Pain Journey: Parenting Through the Pain
Chronic Pain + Toddlers = Chaos... I live with chronic pain and parent two children under 5. Some mornings when I wake up, it takes me 20 minutes of slow stretching just to even move. Once the day begins, it is chaos. Long gone are the days of lazy mornings in bed. Once I am up the day begins, and the needs of my small roommates take precedence. Breakfast, getting dressed, and organized for the day takes up the entire morning when you are 5. I take my medication once my hands start shaking from the pain and the morning goes on. There are good days, but there are some very bad days.
Work breezes by most days until it’s time to pick the kids up from daycare. By this time, I can really feel the pain starting to seep back in. Some days are better than others. I savor the days when I can be completely present once we get home, play in the backyard before getting dinner ready, and answering a million questions about everything.
I didn't like who I was becoming
Some days, I can make it to the couch. The term ‘mom-guilt’ weighs heavily in my mind some days. I had to delete social media for some time because I could not cope with seeing what I believed were perfect families, with perfect children. Parents that were always attentive and present. Parents that were not fighting an invisible demon. In time, I realized that comparing myself and my capabilities as a parent were not fair to myself, and not fair to my children.
I have had to have conversations with my little ones about why mommy can’t run around with them all the time or why mommy is laying on the couch with an icepack again. The worst part is when the pain is so severe that I am irritable and hard to be around. I never wanted my family to feel like they had to walk on eggshells around me, but sometimes, that was the case.
Finding a solution
Being in recovery from addiction and having lasting effects of hepatitis C, I was extremely wary about taking pain medication. The thought of relapsing terrified me, and I had concerns about how the medication may affect my already tenuous liver. The internet was an amazing source of information and solutions; I was able to read and consider the stories of many others who had been in my position. Many hepatitis C advocates I connected with relayed very similar stories of chronic pain and struggling to find an adequate solution.
Finally, after months and months of petitioning my doctor to take my pain seriously, I found a medication that works! It is not perfect and does come with risks, but it helps me be more... me. My children see a difference in me. More importantly, I see a difference in myself. There were so many ‘cant’s’ before I sought help. Like most other things in my life, I believe this journey will be ever-evolving and have many ups and downs. One thing is for certain, I am grateful I sought help. No one needs to suffer in silence and I am glad I finally realized that sentiment includes me!
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