I cracked and called the doctor today for "something stronger" for my endo pain.  I felt ashamed.  Not only am I infertile, my infertility treatment has jacked up my estrogen to the point where my misplaced endometrial tissues are trying to kill me, or maybe I’m just a baby.  No.  I’m not a baby, I’m a tough old gal who’s run marathons and can take a lot of pain.  Or so I thought.

It was about last summer when the endo pain moved in and started keeping its own schedule, growing worse as ovulation approached and fading towards the end of the month.  The birth control pills I took for a few months depressed me and made me fat and paranoid, but the endo died down quite a bit, and now it only gets painful when I’m cycling.  Unfortunately, it particularly flares when I exercise, so as I try to manage the depression and weight gain I end up making the endo pain worse.

Chronic pain is a new thing for me.  It’s been surprising.   It’s a different animal because all the other pain I’ve had has been temporary, and mostly under my control.  It hurt to train for and run marathons, but that was my choice.  It hurt to load trucks at UPS but I was desperate to prove that I could do it, and I got out of that job before I got seriously injured.  Most of the pain I’ve had in my life has been predictable and I either could stop it, or I knew when it would stop.

Not this.  Because I can’t control it, it’s had a whole mental health angle that surprised me.  I cry every day from this pain and I’m not sure why.  It just gets me down.  It scares me, makes me feel trapped and angry.  It also drives me into the arms of food, just as I’m getting a handle on things and might even have a shot at taking off a pound or two of Lupron and graduation party cake and whatever other excuses I’m wearing on my thighs these days.  Food is tailor-made comfort for when I’m angry and scared and hurting, and the more junky-happy-sugary the food can be, the better.  I truly get comfort in those moments, but it’s a comfort quickly followed by regret.

Chronic pain is an old-person thing, and I’ve got it.  I hate it, but it also makes me a little bit less scared of getting old, because I’m handling it.  Note: for me, "handling it" doesn’t mean "drug-free."  I now understand how being old might be having four or five of these chronic pain piranhas just nibbling away, all the time.  Right now I just have one so I feel lucky.   Chronic pain is also opening my eyes to what real life is. Real, sucky, unpredictable, why-me real life, of which I am barely getting a taste.  My pain is temporary and while it’s not as temporary as I would like, it will get fixed when I get some surgery, maybe next year or the year after.  But it will get fixed – lots of other people’s chronic pain won’t, ever.  Except of course for the chronic pain of, say, late-stage cancer, that will get fixed a little bit too soon and in too final a way.  I am pretty lucky. 

I can also keep chronic pain in mind when someone is horrible, or rude, or selfish, or foggy.  People might have surprisingly good reasons for not being a ray of sunshine when they take my order or don’t call me back or turn without signaling.  I have a better understanding of that now than I used to.

Because I’m me, chronic pain is a relief because it’s a kind of "other shoe."  It’s a bad thing, but not as bad a bad thing as it could be, and so I’m relieved.  It could be a lot worse, a lot messier, a lot less fixable.  I’ve got a skinful of Vicodin, now, and insurance paid for it, and there’s a light at the end of this cycle.  It’s for a good cause, when so much pain is just senseless and sad.  So I’m happily pushing all the estrogen my doctor requires, knowing I’ll be able to function (albeit in a slight haze) and I’ll be able to sleep, and I can get through this.  I’m grateful.