Chronic Pain

Relationship Pain Problems

Relationships are hard!  Add in the challenges of chronic pain and some days they seem just about impossible.

Lately we have been in such a funk. I’ve been in pain and stressed out about the job situation.  Rationing my remaining pain pills like they were precious gold to be hoarded and the increase in my pain had a severe effect on our relationship.

When you hurt it’s all consuming, all you can think about.  You tend to snap at people and just all around be a witch.  When you can barely find the energy to shower, it feels impossible to find the energy to give to a relationship.


The catalyst for me was when my man looked me in the eye and told me that he felt alone, that I didn’t talk to him.  Of course in my wisdom I tried to educate him that while he was talking all I could hear was my body screaming “pain, pain, PAIN!”   Armed with the above pain scale I explained that my pain is constantly a 5-6 with flares up to an 8.

You know something – it doesn’t matter.  One of the most important people in my life felt like he didn’t matter to me.  I was allowing the pain to control my life and ruin our relationship.  Something had to change.

What changed was my priorities.  Those of us with chronic pain only have so many “spoons” in a day and we have to be very purposeful in how we use them.  I’ve made it a point to allot a few spoons a day towards him.  Simple things, like doing a load of laundry, or making dinner.  I make sure the bed is made and the house is neat so he has a clean comfortable place to come home to.   Yes I made a list in my bullet journal to help me remember!

img_7622.jpgI’ve also started waking up with him every day.  This helps me be more productive and also means that by bedtime I am tired and not up on my phone all night.

Another huge (for me) change I’ve made is not allowing myself excuses.  For a long time I would say I’d do something and then for whatever reason (pain, exhaustion) I would come up with a reason why it didn’t get done.   He couldn’t count on me.  Not anymore!  Now I prioritize my day and write down the most important things I need to get done.  Amazingly I’m getting them done.

The best part about this is that as I’m showing him more love, he’s starting to trust that I’m there for him.  He’s starting to feel loved again and he’s showing me love in so many ways that I was missing.

Here are a few ideas to get you started

  • Read Love Languages and figure out what his is.  Concentrate on that.
  • Prioritize your relationship.
  • Write it down
  • Plan your day so that you have energy when he gets home.
  • Realize that you can only do your best and treat yourself with Grace.  If you are showing a true effort he will see it and on the days you just can’t – he will happily pick up the slack.
  • Realize it’s usually small things that make people feel loved.

I’d love to hear from you, what are your suggestions for a successful relationship with a chronic illness?

– Julie the Nurse

Chronic Pain

Pacing with Chronic Pain

One of the hardest things to accept with chronic pain is that you can no longer do all of the things you used to do .  Some days just taking a shower is too much.  Forget about going to the mall or cleaning your house in one day.  What used to take me an hour now takes more like 10.

One of the things that people do when they first develop chronic pain is we try to push through it, when that doesn’t work we lay down because that reduces the pain.  The problem with this approach is that it makes you weaker, deconditioned, and everything becomes harder to do.

We have good days and bad days – we tend to take advantage of the good days and do as much as we can – then we burn out and end up in severe pain, unable to do much of anything.  This is a vicious cycle because we feel guilty for laying down and resting, recovering.  Once we feel better we rush to get everything done because we don’t know when the next good day will be.  The cycle repeats.

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I have recently learned another way to address this.  It’s called pacing and it goes like this: work – rest – work – rest – repeat.  In my case I can only stand for a certain amount of time before the pain skyrockets, so I work for 10-15 minutes, maybe loading the dishwasher, or wiping the counters then I rest for 20-30 minutes until my pain level gets to a tolerable point.  Then I repeat.

Since I have started doing this I have gotten more done with a decreased pain level overall as I’m no longer pushing myself past my safe point on the days I feel better.

I make a list of the top 3 things that I need to get done during the day, and I do those first.  I also use my bullet journal to map out my ideal day and track the things that are important for me to do every day.    I use kitchen timers or the timer on my phone to keep me on track.

IMG_7528At the bottom of this monthly calendar I have my goal tracking for the month.   With chronic pain sometimes it’s the simple things that get left out.  Making the bed in the morning makes it less likely that I’ll just go lay back down in it.  Cleaning the kitchen after dinner means that I start the morning without that hanging over my head.  Even something as simple as showering can be a challenge when you are exhausted at the end of the day and just want to go to bed.  I have set a goal to cook dinner 4 nights a week – this week it hasn’t happened due to increased pain levels and that’s OK.

My suggestion for others with chronic pain is to accept your limitations, don’t push yourself too far, and most importantly write it down!  Chronic pain does something to your brain and makes it so much harder to remember things, write down what you need to do, prioritize and give yourself grace if you can’t get to everything on your list.

Thank you for being here

  • Julie the Nurse