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Chronic Pain
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It’s been a year since I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knees. And I know what it feels like to live with chronic pain. For months I didn’t tell anyone but family. I felt discouraged and embarrassed, so I kept it private. But in recent months I’ve found that I can help and encourage others facing chronic pain. So here are some of the insights I’ve gained in the past year:

Follow the instructions of your medical care provider. You have to choose to do what your doctor or physical therapist suggests. If you’re seeing no improvement, go back and reevaluate. It took me a year of riding a recumbent bike in order to be able to walk a mile without pain. Did I want to give up at times? You bet I did. But when I recently walked that first mile, my eyes filled with tears. Suddenly, the year had been worth it!

Take care of your whole body. I believe that how we treat the whole body affects every aspect of our health. I may have problems with my knees, but am amazed at how much better they do when I live right. A healthy diet, the right kind of exercise, lots of water, adequate sleep, avoiding junk food, getting outdoors into the fresh air and spending time with God not only helps my knees, but my attitude.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself—for too long. I’ll admit that there are days when I feel a bit sorry for myself. If a group of friends is going on a long hike or playing a sport that my knees can’t take, it can make me sad. But being sad doesn’t do me any good. So I do my best to choose to be happy for them, and find other activities that I can do.

Do the things you love to do—but differently. I love to work in my flower garden. When I was diagnosed last spring, I wondered how I would keep up my hobby. “Easy,” I thought to myself. “I can’t kneel or get up and down from a stool without pain, but I can sit on the ground…and I can scoot!” And that’s how I cared for my flowers last summer.

Go for it!—but only sometimes. Living with chronic pain is tough, but I’ve decided not to be a victim. Sometimes, I’ll even say yes to doing something I know will possibly give me a few days of more intense pain, but won’t damage my knees. Like riding horses with my cousins recently. But it was worth it! And it gave me new energy to work even harder at my physical therapy.

If you live with chronic pain, you’re not alone. Millions of people live with varying degrees. It’s what we do with it that matters. We can learn from it, help others through it and become stronger emotionally and spiritually from it--until the day comes when Jesus will take all our pain away.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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