Eat Your Kimchi

How I Deal with Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain website


This post is coming from a different perspective. It’s probably not going to be as coherent as most posts, because it’s tough to write out. You’ve seen how Martina deals with her chronic pain, and what she does when she’s having a really rough day. But what do I do on these days? What can I do as a spouse when I’m watching my wife suffer?

For starters, I really didn’t want to film this video. I know Martina wanted to do it, and so I helped her film, but my instinct is not to grab a camera when she’s suffering. I came up early that day and saw that she was off to a rough start. I brought up a coffee and some ice packs. I reassured her that it’s ok if we don’t film today. We’re lucky enough to have jobs where we set our own schedules. But Martina really wanted to show what a rough day for her is like, in hopes of inspiring other people who have rough days as well.

My instincts are not as noble. I love all of you for watching our videos, really, but the only thing on my mind when I see my wife crying is finding ways to help her out. Nothing else matters. Standing on the other side of that camera was too far from her for me. I felt my heart in my throat. Hell I couldn’t even edit the first part of the video. I tried but just walked away.

Thankfully, I’m not going to have to have a camera between us on days like this in the future, and there will be plenty. We get them every week. It’s tough for us to explain to our friends or to people at business meetings why we have to reschedule, but we’re lucky now in that most of the times people are understanding of our situation. It does really sadden me when I see the acknowledgement in people’s eyes; I see that they’re sad for Martina. Hell, I’m really sad for her too. But being sad isn’t going to do much for us. We’ve got many more things we want to do with our lives, and we’re going to keep pushing forward.

So, on Martina’s bad pain days, we have a variety of options. I first need to assess what’s happening. Where is she hurting. Is it just her upper body, which means she can still walk but will need shoulder support, or is it in her knees and hips, which means we’ll be staying at home instead? Martina gets a little foggy when she’s in really bad pain, so I have to make sure she’s had breakfast so she can take her medicine, since she can’t take it on an empty stomach. Sometimes a massage in a painful area helps. If it’s her hips Martina has stretching exercises that can help. Once she comes downstairs I try to make the place as bright as possible. Closed blinds and shutters makes our house darker, which leads to Martina feeling darker as well. Once she’s had her breakfast and medicine we’ll start icing her up, as ice helps. If she’s ok to head out and work on building a ladder then I’ll apply KT Tape wherever she needs it. If she can’t leave the house I find baths help. I’ll get her in a nice hot bath, which she’ll protest against because baths are SO BORING. And usually after a bath she can take a nap, and I find that she’s a lot better after a nap.

But those are all small tasks I can do. The bigger ones are tough to handle. Especially for Martina, when she’s in pain like this she thinks very poorly of herself. She’ll feel profoundly guilty, she’ll feel like a burden. She’s ashamed to ask me for help. And the challenge for me is to keep on reminding her about the amazing woman that she is. The pain comes and goes. Well it never really goes away. It’s always there. But there are days where she’s a lot more functional, and inspiring, and bright-eyed, and that’s who I married. That’s who Martina is. I need to reassure Martina that her pain days aren’t how I think of her. The pain day is just something we’ll work through together. We’ll go out and build some ladders, and we’ll get her back to her normal self. We’ll get her back to marvelling at big sunflowers, back to looking at butterflies. She’s the most amazing woman I know, and no matter how much pain she is I always see her glorious self shining through.

Oh fuck I gotta stop writing this. This goddamned thumbnail is too sad for me to look at so I’m gonna publish and that’s it. Open emotion time over.

Thank you to those of you who use the #buildaladder hashtag. Martina looks at it on her tough days and feels inspired by the posts you put up, and that makes her want to go out and make more videos and share them with you all. Ok emotion’s coming back I need to be stoic and shit.