I Am a Strong Woman With Chronic Pain


Dr. John Regan

Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I won’t pay for it later.

I am a strong woman. I am a strong woman with chronic pain. I did ballet for 16 years until four knee surgeries sidelined me. I developed muscles that don’t even exist in most people’s bodies. I haven’t danced for years, but those muscles are still there. I don’t work out, and in fact, I’m overweight and out of shape. I was already that way when I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritisand fibromyalgia.

Sometimes I have to walk with a cane. Many times I cannot lift things, or I know will hurt if I do, so I choose not to. But I am still strong, and sometimes feel like flexing those muscles.

Today my husband and I were cleaning the house. It’s gotten really dirty, but on this holiday weekend, we’re taking the opportunity to reorganize and straighten up. I’ve worked really hard and am in quite a bit of pain. I have sat down with two heating pads spanning the length of my spine, across my shoulders and neck.

I am still participating in the task by making suggestions and doing little things here and there. Hubby moved a dresser across the room, and I watched as he maneuvered it into place leaving the carpet sticking out. As he busied himself with the next task, I knew that carpet was going to bother me. Instead of bothering my husband, I wanted to stretch my proverbial legs. I walked across the room, lifted the heavy chest of drawers, and fixed the carpet underneath.

My husband laughed and remarked (good-naturedly), “Maybe you don’t need those heat packs!”

Regret washes over me as I shake my head and return to my chair.

“Trust me, I do.”

Even the man who sees my strengths and weaknesses, often more clearly than I do, does not always understand the nature of chronic pain.

I am strong. Most of the time I can’t utilize that strength anymore, and if I do, I pay the consequences. But when I do, just because I do, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean I won’t pay for it later. That is the nature of chronic pain. It will always be there, even when it looks like it isn’t.


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