It’s not easy living with chronic pain. I had a disintegrated disc last year which, before I was operated on, managed to get my sciatic nerve caught between two of my vertebrae, leaving behind a Gordian knot of frayed synapses. This was the culmination of a previous unsuccessful microdiscectomy and a work schedule that is far from being conducive to a healthy spine.
Most days, the pain hovers around a five or a six. Yeah, I know. That doesn’t sound like much but imagine that the five or six is there for every single second of the day and night. It starts to feel a lot worse.
And then there are the bad days. The pain will get to a seven or an eight – sometimes even a nine. And those are the dark days. The really dark days.
The days when the handfuls of schedule 6 painkillers I take twice a day seem to have all the effect of half a kiddies Aspirin.
The days when the pain is an angry, red hot, malignant ball of hateful, spiteful malice and it becomes all that I can focus on. All that I can see.
The days when I look at a full box of sleeping pills for a few seconds too long and have thoughts that I should never, ever have.
That’s the problem with chronic pain. It never really leaves you and then starts to take over other parts of your brain. My memory is shot. On most days my motivation is non-existent and my ego and self image have taken a huge knock.
“I’m a man damnit! Suck it up. Deal with this!!”
It’s easy to doubt yourself when even the simplest of tasks becomes an agonising chore and being a functioning, active member of society is an onerous task.
But there are always two thoughts that keep me going. Two thoughts that stop me from taking twenty or so sleeping pills with a shot of Jacks. Two thoughts that will not allow me to surrender to this monster I battle every day.
I am a husband.
I am a father.
And those two thoughts are enough to get me through.