Living with Pain or Illness – Life in the Slow Lane

Living with chronic pain or any type of chronic illness can often be like living life in the slow lane. My life is certainly like that. I have two speeds – slow or very slow. I know that I’m simply not fit for a different type of lifestyle. I accept that I need to live my life in the slow lane.

Living with chronic pain. Two speed settings - slow and very slow. Tortoise and snail.

Obviously, I wish I didn’t live with pain, but I do actually enjoy the slow lane lifestyle. I avoid driving on stressful busy motorways, preferring to take my time on quiet country roads. I don’t enjoy trailing around busy shopping centres. Instead, I’d rather shop online or go to small local shops. I would hate to live in a bustling town or city. And I am lucky enough to live in a quiet, rural location.

I live in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, nestled in the hills of the Scottish Borders. I see breathtaking scenery every day of my life. Our neighbours live three miles from us and my nearest shop is twelve miles away. We have no passing traffic, only the occasional rambler or farm vehicle. I love the quietness. We have clean, fresh air all around us and the most delicious crystal clear water. It’s a gorgeous place to live.

It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. But it does throw some obstacles in front of us at times. We need to be prepared for any eventuality. Winter can prove difficult. We’ve been snowed in for weeks at a time. One year, the bridge leading to our house was damaged during a storm. We were at one side of the river, the rest of the world at the other. We’ve always got food in the freezer and our kitchen cupboards are well stocked, but the biggest concern in the winter is my medication. It would be okay to run out of sugar or milk, but I can’t afford to run out of medication.

There is a ten mile stretch of narrow, windy, often potholed, road through a valley leading to my house. There are passing places every so often because some parts of the road are only wide enough for one vehicle. Driving along this country road is most definitely slow paced. It has to be. Nobody can travel at high speeds and we probably never make a journey without being held up or having to stop in a passing place to let another vehicle pass.

I once compared living with chronic pain to the unpredictable Scottish weather. But I could also compare it to travelling along this country road.

Living Life on the Slow Lane With Chronic Pain

There is no mobile phone signal in parts of the valley, so if we have an accident or run out of fuel, we might need to wait a while before getting rescued. So it’s important to try to ensure that we don’t get into that situation.

Fuel is energy. Due to my pain, energy is a commodity which I easily run out of and when that happens, it isn’t easily fixed. Nobody can rescue me. Nobody can replace my energy. A good nights sleep or an afternoon nap doesn’t help. It can have lasting consequences. I can’t push myself too far. I pace myself, take frequent rests and practice self-care. I need to try to ensure I look after myself as well as possible so that I don’t get into that situation.

Being Patient When Living with Pain

On this lovely country road, we never know what lies ahead, so we need to drive slowly and cautiously.

It’s a popular spot for walkers and campers. Horses, deer, farm animals and all kinds of wildlife could wander in front of us. Some days the road might be clear and allow us to drive the full length without stopping. Other days, we might be stuck behind two hundred sheep being moved between fields. On those days, the normal 20 minute journey out of the valley might take twice that time. Patience is the order of the day. There’s no point in trying to get anywhere faster. It just doesn’t happen.

That’s just what my life with pain is like. There’s no point in trying to rush. It’s just not possible. I never know what’s around the corner. I don’t know how my pain will be from minute to minute, never mind day to day, so I just need to go with the flow, accept it and be prepared for any eventuality. And as for patience…that should be my middle name.

I accept that I need to live my life in the slow lane. Scenic view in Scotland.

Manoeuvring Through Life With Pain

When you live with chronic pain, you need to manoeuvre through life just as carefully as we manoeuvre around those potholes on my country road. I need to look out for triggers and avoid them if I can, otherwise my pain will worsen. Just like my bridge being destroyed by the storm, one wrong move could leave me in a worse state for days, weeks or even months.

Living in the slow lane because of pain isn’t easy, but it is something I have come to accept.

Living with pain or illness: Life in the slow lane. Road sign "slow" "pain sufferer ahead"

Living in the Slow Lane is the Only Option

Most people have a choice in life. They can choose the slow lane or the fast lane. But people with chronic pain or other health conditions don’t have that choice. The slow lane is the only option.

But it isn’t all bad.

We might notice things which healthier people take for granted. They don’t always notice the small things. They’re too busy rushing their way through life. So busy that they often don’t have time for other people.

Living in the slow lane due to chronic pain or illness means that we notice other people on the same journey. We recognise the journey they’re on. We understand their journey. We have time for them. And they have time for us. They might stop to spend a few minutes with us, even though it makes their own journey a bit longer. They might even point out something that they noticed along the way. And, if you need a bit of help, it is guaranteed that they will try to help. They will be supportive and offer a few words of advice or encouragement. If they can do nothing else, they’ll stay by your side until you are able to carry on.

Does that happen with people living in the fast lane? Most of them have their eye on the destination and don’t notice anything else. Most of them are too busy to even stop to say hello.

I said most because, thankfully, there are some healthy people who choose to travel on the slow lane along with us. They do it because they want to help the people who have no choice. There are many people out there like that. And if you are one of those people, I want to thank you. You are making someone’s journey a little bit easier.

When you see someone in the slow lane, say hello, ask how they are. They might be struggling and your friendly face could help them. Flowers.

Are you travelling in the slow lane? I hope that you can find some good points to your journey. Stop for a minute to notice what’s around you. Stop and say hello to your fellow travellers and ask how they are because today might be a struggle for them. Everyone needs support sometimes and your friendly face might help them get through the day.

51 thoughts on “Living with Pain or Illness – Life in the Slow Lane

  1. beautifully written post…………I have been fortunate enough to have visited Scotland as a child and I can remember the extreme beauty that we encountered. i hope to be able to go back some day as I remember that wonderful, warm, cozy, homey, feeling your country gave me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A well written post, with a lot of detail. I have Neuralgia TN that can be active on both sides, along with several other conditions including age! My life now is in the slow lane, I have lost confidence in driving so my world has got smaller too.
    My laptop is a help in keeping in touch with people all over the world, I cannot feel “cut off”. My local Library is of help, being half a mile from my house I can walk there. I lead a Poetry Group and belong to the Reading Group. Books are another help in taking me to places and people who experience adventure I could not dream of ( or in the case of Crime Book would not want to).
    I belong to a Writing Group, although we do not start back until September, I miss it in the SUmmer holiday as I lose the will to write! Love and thanks Marjorie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Marjorie. Computers are great for being able to keep in touch with people. Our worlds might be small, but we can visit so many places and chat with so many people around the world via the internet. It won’t be long until September then you’ll get back to your writing group.

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  3. This sounds like a wonderful place to be to unplug & slow down, to get a breath of fresh air (literally!) The downside and slight concern would be with lack of mobile signal in certain places in the valley. As you say, life In the slow lane with chronic illness & chronic pain is about being prepared and looking after yourself. This is a fantastic post, Liz, and I think you’ve used the metaphor brilliantly. Totally agree that being in this slower lane has its positives, even if it takes a while to find them or remember that they’re there sometimes.
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Caz. The mobile signal is sporadic throughout the valley. We have none at all so rely totally on our landline. We can’t get normal broadband here either. We need satellite broadband which costs a fortune. But it is such a gorgeous place to live, it’s worth it.

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  4. Beautiful post! I’ve dealt with chronic pain for most of my adult life, and taking life slower than others would expect is definitely helpful. It can be a blessing too. I feel this world is way too fast paced to begin with (even without dealing with chronic pain), especially since the start of the .com rush. Taking time to slow down and enjoy the little things that are most often overlooked or taken for granted is good for our souls. It is amazingly therapeutic to see the roads less traveled, and often finding sights that most people wouldn’t even realize are nearby because they’re so busy getting from A to B.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Volia-Louise Coetzee

        Dear Friend, thank you for the beautiful and true writing. We were so priviledged to visit you in your beautiful valley and you opened your home and hearts for us. So many days I wish that I was not living almost on the other side of the world! Thank you for taking me back to that day . Thank you for putting it in the slow lane where I am also traveling.
        We miss both of you!
        Love,
        Volia-Louise xx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I must admit that as I’ve aged, I prefer the slow lane. Mostly because life is too short to live in the fast lane all the time. Those are the people who miss out on so much of what life has to offer because they are too busy being busy.

    Your lifestyle sounds fantastic, Elizabeth! The rural, quiet home with gorgeous scenery. I’d be very happy there too, and it is a dream of mine to make that happen before I turn 40. I can see how the issue with running out of your medication would be concerning though. Is it possible for your doctor to give you a 90 day prescription during the winter months with bad weather? Just in case? In the states, doctors can do 30 and 90 day prescriptions. I don’t know what the laws/regulations around that are in Scotland though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you can make it happen sometime. You would love country living. Doctors here won’t give more than 30 days prescription at a time. They’re pretty strict on it. But I normally ask my doctor if I can get it a wee bit earlier, so I know I have some extra. We’ve lived here for 13 years and so far, I’ve not run out. (Hope I haven’t jinxed myself by saying that)

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  6. Volia-Louise Coetzee

    Dear Friend, thank you for the beautiful and true writing. We were so priviledged to visit you in your beautiful valley and you opened your home and hearts for us. So many days I wish that I was not living almost on the other side of the world! Thank you for taking me back to that day . Thank you for putting it in the slow lane where I am also traveling.
    We miss both of you!
    Love,
    Volia-Louise xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely love Scotland. Every time I’m there I feel relaxed, it’s such an amazing place. I’m heading up there for my holiday soon and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to the slower pace of life that it’ll bring. I love how you’ve written this post and how you accept this pace of life. It’s very inspiring for others xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mostly when I am in any kind of pain I am so much focused on my ownself. So I have never really thought of asking fellow people how they are doing. So I like your tip and will follow it from now onwards ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. sjd68

    My wife is one of the most positive people I know and always finds a silver lining in any situation. Her response to me oftentimes is just this, “It beats the alternative”. And she’s right. It may be the slow lane and you may be moving slow but at least we’re moving at all! Plus slow gives us the chance to take in the beauty around us that we so often miss when rushing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Luna S

    It can take some adjustment to get used to when you are used to living life in the fast lane. My step-dad fell ill a few years ago and has since had to slow down quite a bit which includes napping during the day, we’ve all adjusted to try and help him live the best way possible! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Joyce Osiango

    I’m traveling in the slow lane and it true we should make a stop and wander around a bit then keep going. We should always be thankful to those who are healthy and are willing to travel with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lindsay Rae

    I really loved your comparison of living with pain to travelling a country road. I lived in the country most of my young life and I can understand what you mean by having to use caution when travelling these types of roads. I can also appreciate how similar this is to living with chronic pain.

    For a long time I was living in the fast lane. Always having to be busiest person with so much important things to do, and then, seemingly out of nowhere I realised that I missed my kids and my family. Living in the fast lane might be a rush and those who are there may talk it up, but now that I’ve forced myself to move over to the slow lane I realise that I now have time to appreciate all of the wonderful things this life is made up of!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Lindsay, I am glad that you have slowed down a little bit. Your kids and family are so important. Life is full of wonderful things, isn’t it? It’s nice to take the time to appreciate them.

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  12. Chronic pain is tough!!! What’s also tough is learning (healthy) coping mechanisms to get through painful days and moments. It’s easy to use vices that can lead to addictions but it’s not easy to be mindful and enjoy the things around!!
    I’m glad to have found your article as I wish more people could follow in your footsteps!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Living your best life is all you can do. If it has to be at a slower pace than others, so be it. Having a positive attitude will help you find ways to deal with chronic pain and people who can support you. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. clydequin93

    I love Scotland and I’d really like to visit it one day. It’s one of my dream destinations in Europe.
    Anyway, I really admire your patience despite your pain, not all people can understand what it’s like being patient having pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I was visualizing as I was reading through and got transported to this beautiful place that you live in. But it requires real tough mental strength to be surviving with limited resources and the unpredictable. And it is so nice to know that there are still many helpful people around in this world who are willing to go out of their way to help.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Having patience is hard for me in certain aspects and I love how you’ve adjusted well to life in the “slow lane”. I think in our culture there’s too much of a “live fast, die young” culture and that it’s beneficial to slow down and take it all in sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s not always easy to live with chronic pain. I have little aches and pains once in a while and my immediate reaction is usually to go to sleep or rest until they go away. Pain makes us slow down and be more patient with ourselves and others.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have lived with chronic pain in that I got migraines that could last up to 21 days. I was disabled for 20 years but since the pain was so unbearable I don’t remember learning all the lessons you are teaching about here. I’m not sure what your pain feels like but I’m glad that you still can experience some beauty in life. It sounds like it’s gorgeous where you live, though scary if you ever got stuck like you did when the bridge was out. I lived a little bit like that in Oklahoma when I was in college but people weren’t as far from me as they are from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sorry that you also live with chronic pain. Migraines like that are horrendous. They are so draining. I used to have chronic migraines which seemed to go on forever, but thankfully I don’t have them so often now. I live with a few other conditions which cause chronic pain.

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  19. Pingback: How Chronic Pain or Illness is Affected by Stress – Despite Pain

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