Throughout Scotland, the weather can be fairly unpredictable and often I describe living with chronic pain in the same way.
Unpredictable Scottish Weather
Spring is upon us. At least, it should be. I live in the hills of the Scottish Borders and because we sit quite high (1150 feet above sea level), Spring always comes to us a little bit later than elsewhere.
One day last week, I noticed that our daffodils were blooming. It made me smile – Spring had sprung. Then I woke up the following morning to find a lovely, thick blanket of snow covering the daffs! Today, there’s no snow. Nor is there sunshine or blue sky. I can barely see twenty feet in front of the house because of mist.
That kind of weather’s not unusual in Scotland. Sun, rain, hail, snow, wind – it doesn’t matter the name of the season, our weather has a mind of its own and it can change in an instant. When I was young, I was taught to take a jacket and an umbrella even if the sun was splitting the trees because the weather might change. And when the sun does split the trees, I was taught to make the most of it, because it might not be here for long.
Scotland is a beautiful place to live. But there’s no doubt about it, the weather is unpredictable.
Chronic Pain is Unpredictable too
I often think that living with chronic pain could be compared to living with Scottish weather because chronic pain is unpredictable too. In fact, chronic pain is probably even more unpredictable than the weather.
I live with pain every day. I don’t expect anything else any more. But I never know how much pain I will have or how badly it will affect me. And it can change in an instant. If I’m having a ‘better’ day, everything can suddenly become pear-shaped. A good day can quickly turn into a bad day for no reason and with no warning.
Chronic Pain is Unpredictable and Can Change Suddenly
Today I might manage to go shopping to the supermarket with my husband but tomorrow I might not be able to sit in the car for the twenty-minute journey to get there. Perhaps I might manage to bake a cake today or do some art and crafts but tomorrow I might struggle to stand long enough to make a cup of tea. Today I might manage to brush my teeth but tomorrow my trigeminal neuralgia could be too painful to even attempt it.
But my pain doesn’t just change from one day to the next. It can change from hour to hour or even minute to minute.
I could be having relatively low pain, then it changes and I could by lying in bed for the rest of the day and reaching for extra pain relief due to a muscle spasm in my back. Or I could be enjoying my dinner, then suddenly my trigeminal neuralgia fires into action.
Unpredictable – that’s life with chronic pain.
Chronic Pain: Preparing For The Unpredictable
Wearing a jacket and carrying an umbrella might help to prepare for unpredictable weather, but it isn’t enough to prepare for the unpredictability of chronic pain. However, I do take whatever measures I can try to either lessen or prevent it.
I try to rest, practice self-care and take my medication regularly. I’ve learned that missing or being late with one dose, can worsen my pain and I always carry extra pain medication when I go out just in case I need it.
When I make plans, I accept that I might need to change them at times. I don’t stop all activities because of my pain, but I do often have to do things differently than I’d like. I still want to be active and participate in hobbies, so I give myself time limits.
Making adjustments and compromises can allow me to still do some of the things I love doing.
I also realise, and accept, that doing some things might cause me more pain. But sometimes a bit of payback is worth it because I still need to enjoy my life, despite the pain.
Appreciating Better Days
Just as I appreciate the glimpses of Scottish sunshine, I appreciate each and every moment when I have less pain. And on the more painful days, I look for silver linings on the clouds. When everything feels dark, I try to find some brightness.
I find brightness everywhere. In those daffodils, in birds, in the lambs in the field in front of my house. It’s in laughter and in music. I find it in my husband, my family and friends and in happy memories. I always find brightness in the little things in life. I’ve written about it before, here.
Little things, especially when you live with chronic illness of any type, mean so much.
Little Things, Even Colours, Make Me Happy
When I was a little girl, I loved the colour red. Bright, vibrant red. As I grew older, my favourite colour changed to green. All shades of green. Mint green, teal green, bottle green and every-shade-in-between green. I have a couch that’s green. I have clothes that are green. My blog is green. My eyes are green. (Okay, I didn’t actually choose them – but I’m happy they’re green). I look out my windows at the surrounding countryside, and I see a thousand shades of green in the grass, leaves and trees.
But I also love yellow because it reminds me of those daffodils in the Springtime.
As soon as the yellow daffodils start poking up through hard ground, they instantly put a smile on my face. After a long, cold, dreary winter, Spring is bringing everything back to life. Even in Scotland’s unpredictable weather, those daffodils still manage to survive. They’re a reminder that, no matter how bleak it’s been, there’s hope for the future. Always.
In the same way that Spring always follows winter, I try to remember that good days will come after bad. Today I could be in excruciating pain, but I always remain hopeful that tomorrow could be better. And if not tomorrow, the following day. Or maybe the day after. I try to stay optimistic about it. I need to.
I’d love to hear what you think. Is your chronic pain also unpredictable like Scottish weather?