Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:
Scroll down to read it as a blog post!
The last two years have been rough. I had a horribly painful pregnancy in 2017 followed by another surprise pregnancy four months postpartum. All my symptoms came back earlier and were worse the second time around.My pelvis keeps shifting out of place making it incredibly painful for me to walk up stairs, sit down/stand up, pick up anything, hold my baby, get in and out of bed and sit on any hard surface. I also have a hard time walking long distances like… a trip through the grocery store.
I find myself in the homestretch with a little over 90 days to go until this new baby joins us. I’m basically in bed most of the time to avoid the pain of doing… anything else. Now don’t worry too much about me! I have an incredible support system.My husband works from home and my mom lives with me so I have a lot of help with the kids. I see why God gave me this cross because He knew I could handle it. But it doesn’t change the mental anguish I feel every single day.
I wanted to explain why I look okay when you see me, hoping to give some insight into people who suffer a great deal of chronic physical pain. I realize my pain is temporary and will go away when this baby comes out but many people suffer from pain that they will deal with for the rest of their lives.
Here are five things I wish people understood:
Experiencing pain, even low-level pain, all day long is mentally draining.
Have you ever had a sunburn or a bad bruise from a fall? Maybe you’ve done a really difficult workout and your body is sore the next day. These pains are not severe but they fire all throughout the day. They’re always there in the background. Feeling pain, even small pain, all day long can make a person irritable. You may not even realize it but it zaps your energy and steals some of your ability to be cheery. It’s like a nagging fly that keeps swirling around your head. It’s not a big deal and it’s not going to kill you but it often keeps you in a bad mood. That’s what my pain is like. It’s like holding out a glass of water. Sure, the glass of water isn’t heavy but if you have to hold it for 18 hours, it really starts to wear you down.
I don’t want to complain about my life all the time, so I often brush it off as if it’s not as bad as it is.
I’m lonely! I’m basically in my room all day waiting desperately for my kids or my husband to come visit me and tell me about… anything! So if by chance I get to see someone from the outside world, the last thing I want to do is heap loads of self-pity and a bad attitude on them so they don’t want to see me again! Everyone asks me how I’m doing and when I say, “I’m fine” or “I’m doing okay” it’s not that I’m lying. I am fine. I’m surviving. I’m living through this and I will live through this. It doesn’t help me to open up my box of dark thoughts and spew them on my visitor. And you all know, I’m all about transparency but sometimes, transparency robs you of the thing you really want which is someone to come visit you! I’ll be dealing with this for months so I don’t need to delve into how hard it is every time I get to see someone!
I am really tough! But even my toughness doesn’t seem to last 18 hours per day.
I’m pretty good at being productive and psyching myself up to get something done. But even on my best days, this lasts for about four hours. It’s extremely hard to read, write, and pray for 18 hours per day. I find myself staring down what feels like an endless amount of time trying to figure out what to do with myself. And the truth is, everything I can think of to do, I did five times the day before. It feels like my own form of purgatory on Earth. I offer it up to the Lord constantly hoping it really does matter to Him. Last year, as I was in bed, I kept telling myself, “Sterling you’re tough. It’s just three months and then you can be a mom to your kids again!” This time, when I say the same words, they feel a bit weak and empty. I just went through this and it’s disheartening to go through it again so quickly. And part of me wonders how many more times I’ll have to go through this in the future.
There are many days I wake up and don’t want to live through the day.
In no way am I suicidal. I’ve never thought about taking my own life. But man, I do wake up sometimes thinking, “I really don’t want to live through this day.” It feels overwhelmingly painful to have to crawl through the minutes knowing exactly what the day is going to be like. If I could transport myself to three months from now, I would, even knowing I’d miss some lovely family moments. It’s a dark place to be in when you don’t want to enjoy the day that God has planned for you but I think these feelings are really normal for people who live with chronic pain.
You can swallow your pain for the length of a social visit.
I imagine a lot of people who see me either at church or who visit my home think I don’t look that bad. Well the truth is, I hide how bad it is when you’re there. When I get up and a sharp pain shoots in my back, I swallow my yelp. If you notice, I didn’t get up to offer you water because it really would have been so painful for me to get up to get it for you. If you look closely, you’ll notice my floors haven’t been swept in a while because the motion of moving a broom is really difficult for me.
I will gladly sit with you in an uncomfortable chair for two hours knowing that my body will be stiff and sore for the rest of the day because I’m craving some sort of human interaction. You’ve done the same thing. Anytime you’ve had a bad headache but had to go to a social function. You just smile through it and keep chatting with your friends. It’s not that you’re lying. It’s that you know no one can change your headache and it doesn’t help to sit and sulk about it. And maybe, just maybe, the headache doesn’t hurt as much when you’re laughing with one of your friends.
If I’m feeling especially bad, either physically or emotionally, I will say no to a visit because I literally won’t have the strength to keep from yelping in pain or bursting into tears. So I understand why people may see me and think I don’t look that bad and maybe I’m fine. It doesn’t bother me that people think that. My husband knows what I’m going through and God certainly knows how hard I’m fighting.
If you know someone in pain, either from pregnancy, an accident, cancer, or a lifelong chronic disease that they are dealing with, here are some things I think they’d like:
- Go visit with them. Pop in for thirty minutes and just say hi. They’d probably love to see you! And don’t feel bad if they say no. Maybe they can’t put on anything other than a nightgown today and they’re not up for it. Try again another day.
- Send an email. If you can’t commit for a visit or you live far away. Type up a quick email sharing some details of your life. People who are isolated would LOVE to hear what you’re up to!
- Bring them a coffee. Most everyone loves a latte or a mocha. Just drop a coffee off and I bet it would brighten their day!
- Bring them a rose or some flowers. My husband brought me a single rose the other day and put it next to my bed. It was such a small and simple thing but it brought some of the beauty of the world to me and it lasted a whole week! You don’t need a $40 bouquet for it to be meaningful.
- If you ask how they are doing and they say, “I’m fine,” let it be. Of course they’re not fine but they may not want to talk about it right then. It has nothing to do with you. They probably spend hours feeling bad about their situation and feeling depressed. When they finally get to see someone else, they probably don’t want to open up all those feelings and instead want to focus on the good things!
Thank you everyone for all your prayers. I certainly don’t need presents but if you feel like writing me a letter or sending me a prayer card, those are always nice and since I’m always reading at least five books, I use them for bookmarks! My address is at the bottom of all the emails I send out!