In last week’s post I threw in a line that I didn’t think too much of at the time.
And you, your life depends on how bad the weather is that day, or how long it takes you to recover from standing in line at the DMV, or whether or not the doctor screwed up your prescription.
One of the comments reminded me that these little insignificant things can be a huge deal to anyone with a chronic illness or chronic pain. These everyday things that might annoy a healthy person have the potential to destroy our whole day. Take the DMV for example. Most people dread the DMV and it’s a huge inconvenience. When I had to go to the DMV a few years ago I had to get up at the crack of dawn to avoid the lines which made me exhausted for the rest of the day. Then when I got there I realized that the line (the one I was trying to avoid by getting there before it opened) was OUTSIDE, in TEXAS, in AUGUST (I feel this qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, but clearly the state does not). So not only was I tired from getting up early and having to stand in line for an hour, my entire body was shaking from standing in the blinding sun and the 100 degree temperatures. Not to mention that I was on antibiotics at the time and was supposed to avoid direct sunlight, and how was I supposed to know going tot he DMV required sunscreen? Like I said, to a normal person this would have been a huge inconvenience To me, the person with chronic illness it was catastrophic.
So what are some other things that healthy people take for granted?
I wrote a whole post dedicated to cleaning with chronic illness for a reason. When your body isn’t functioning well cleaning is exhausting. I have a huge living room floor that I almost never mop because it’s drains me completely. It takes me a good 45 minutes to clean and then I’m pretty much done for the rest of the day. Unfortunately for me my floor needs to be cleaned a lot, and I can never keep up. So it isn’t unusual for someone with chronic illness to have a house that isn’t spotless.
Where I live the weather yo-yos back and forth so fast you practically get whiplash. While this is inconvenient for healthy people (it wreaks havoc on allergies), it’s even harder when you live with pain. My pain levels are always higher when the weather does this. Heat and humidity also raise my pain levels significantly and many people with chronic pain struggle with winter and lower temperatures.
3. Getting ready for the day
I often tell my husband that getting ready to go somewhere is worse than actually going somewhere. Although I’ve loosened up on my perfectionist standards of appearance since I got sick, there are still lots of social rules I feel obligated to follow. Just a few examples of the basic tasks that can be daunting to someone with chronic illness: showering, blow drying hair, putting on makeup, and wearing socially acceptable clothes that don’t make the pain worse.
4. Regular sickness
For healthy people getting a cold is miserable, for people with chronic illness it can take over your life for weeks even months. When you’re barely functioning as it is, additional sickness can knock you out completely.
A normal every day task that most people take for granted. When you have a chronic illness driving can be agonizing if you are forced into an uncomfortable position and it can cause vertigo if you suffer from it.
6. Going shopping
Very few people like going to the store, but for someone with chronic illness it’s exhausting. Not only does it involve getting ready, but parking and walking to the store, walking around the store, dealing with the bright lights, bending over to get things from shelves, carrying heavy groceries etc.
There are so many everyday things that are taken for granted by healthy people, but present large obstacles to people in pain. Because of this those in pain are in need of understanding and support. No one wants go cancel an event because they are too tired to get ready, but sometimes they have to.