Survival mode: a life of inches

hour by hour

I sometimes refer to Chronic Pain as a life by inches. Often we do not focus on the future. We focus on This Moment, then This Moment and then This Moment. A life by inches.

Sometimes when I am at work and I am in acute pain I exist in pain. My brain is filled to the brim with pain. So I need to focus very hard on anything else. I focus directly what is before me. I am careful. I am meticulous. I check my work. I am slow. I just methodically plod along taking one task at a time. Not thinking about the next task or the previous one. Not thinking about how much of the day I must get through… because it is too long, too much… I just need to focus on the now. I can handle the now of the pain. Not 8 hours of it. No matter how careful though I make errors, I can’t focus, and my productivity is low. Still, I need to focus that moment to moment to get through the hell of eight hours. Day to day, to get through the hell of a seven day work week.

And fine, I get through the day. I get through the week. I crash and burn during the weekend.

But damned if you can exist your whole life like this. A life of inches. Survival mode. Just get through this moment and I’ll be fine. And then this moment. With no past, no future, no goals, no ambitions. Just surviving the Now of existence.

It is fine to get through a day like that when it is necessary and it is indeed necessary once you get above an 8 in pain. But once we exist in survival mode it is a horrible place to exist in. It means we have no effective pain management and something needs to be done about it. It means we are way past the point of a warning that things are not well with your pain management… this is not working. And no one can exist in survival mode for long. We are at high risk for depression when our existence is like that. Our pain often will exceed our coping strategies. It should be the alarm to us that tells us we need help. We need a doctor to help us with our pain management and if our doctor will not, then a referral to a pain clinic or neuro who will and if they are not, then a new one.

chronic pain-alife of inches.png

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