The Burden of Pain
By definition, a burden is a heavy load that someone must carry. But when it comes to the burden of pain, living with it isn’t that simple, is it? If you look at it literally and figuratively, a burden can be many things. When you live with psoriatic arthritis, the burden of pain can feel BOTH literal and figurative.
As a dominant symptom of psoriatic arthritis, we talk a great deal about pain - how to manage it, how it affects daily life, even it’s emotional implications. But as patients living with this disease, we don’t often look at how the burden of carrying around this pain changes our lives, inside and out.
The burden of pain costs us relationships with friends and family
This burden is a very heavy load to bear. While we wish that family and friends could have a greater understanding of what we go through, so we feel less alone, at the same time, we would never wish this pain on them. These conflicting emotions within us can often cause strain on our relationships with family and friends. Making the burden feel even heavier with few people around to shoulder it with us.
The burden of pain makes us question our own sanity
When you experience pain, even mild or moderate pain, over an extended amount of time you begin to question your own sanity. Am I really feeling this way? Could I be overreacting? Am I just sensitive to pain? Or worse, am I imagining it? Most of the time, we can’t “see” our pain. There aren’t usually giant bruises, or mangled bones that you would expect when you experience our pain. I don’t see anything wrong! How can I hurt this bad over something I can’t even see?!? It can really play tricks on our minds.
The burden of pain forces us to make difficult choices
I know that I don’t want to burden others with my pain. People ask how I’m feeling, and I know I’m lucky that most people who ask me really want to know. But at the same time, if I answer honestly, aren’t I just upsetting them? I know they care about me. They know there is nothing they can do. So isn’t being honest just making them feel worse and doing nothing to help me? Which leaves me with the question, why would I burden the people I love, with my own pain?
So now, for the most part, I simply say I’m doing well, or okay, or even pretty good. And it fools them, most of the time. And while I don’t like making that difficult choice, to lie or to be honest, the burden of pain that I feel forces me to make it to protect those that I love from the real burden of pain that I experience.
The burden of pain never really goes away
It’s already been established that a burden is a heavy load that someone must carry. We’ve discussed the emotional burden of pain but there are many days, when it feels like the burden of pain is a literal heavy load to carry. I can feel the physical weight of it pressing down on my shoulders, making it difficult to walk around and simply be “light” and “carefree” again. I can feel the burden of pain causing soreness in my back, hips, and even my fingertips.
Yes, there are things that I do to bring myself as much relief as possible. But again, the burden of pain requires me to do that. It requires that I have ice packs and heat packs handy. It requires that I watch what I eat, take a multitude of prescription and non-prescription drugs, and make my body move and stretch even when I doesn’t want to.
All of this, these things I must do, are all part of living with the burden of pain.
Can you exercise with your PsA symptoms?