Chronic pain sucks.

Just for the record, I'll tell you that I've had to deal with chronic pain issues for much of my life. I'm telling you this because I focus on happy things on my blog and in interviews-- happy travels and happy book news and happy family and friend things.

But you know, sometimes when I read other people's blogs and  their lives appear constantly happy, it annoys me.  So I thought I'd come right out and tell you that a significant portion of the time, I am in pain.

I don't write about it because while I'm in pain, I feel too crappy to write.  And after the pain is gone, I just want to forget about it and focus on happy things.  I also don't write about it in blog posts because frankly, I wouldn't want to read a blog with updates about someone's chronic pain. Maybe once or twice, but I wouldn't keep going back to a blog that brought me down with posts like:

I woke up at various points in the night in pain.  In the morning the pain was still there.  I tried exercising. Made it worse. I tried writing more of my book.  Couldn't.  I took pain meds that gave me a cascade of side effects and required more meds. Finally I gave up and laid on the couch in a pool of snot and tears and watched LOST episodes all day.

I also don't write about pain on my blog because of the responses I'd get.  I don't want anyone recommending their holistic doctor or dietary changes or herbs or whatever, because over the past couple decades, I've basically tried it all-- Western and Eastern medicine and everything in between, with varying degrees of success and failure.  I've found some things that have more-or-less worked, and I've been managing the pain with that.

I don't write about the pain because I really am not looking for sympathy.  I've pretty much accepted the aspects of the situation that I can't change, and changed the ones I can, so here I am, managing.  I think we all have horrible things to deal with in our lives, and the key, I think, is to not let them become an all-consuming part of our identity.

Mostly, my life is good and I'm grateful for that, and overall, I feel very, very fortunate.  I've been able to write a bunch of books, have a bunch of travel adventures, have a bunch of smart and fun and good-hearted friends, have a happy family.... and those are the things I want to focus on in my blog and in my life.

BUT... I also don't want to misrepresent my life-- I don't want you to assume that everything is easy and smiley and sunny all the time.  I want you to know that on any given day at any given moment, I might be taking a happy walk in the woods, I might be happily writing another chapter, I might be traveling somewhere exciting, I might be biking around our friendly neighborhood with my family, I might be partying with writer and reader friends....


I might be in a doctor's waiting room, I might be squinting and grimacing at my computer trying to write despite pain, I might be making phone calls to the insurance company, I might be feeling sorry for myself in a pool of snot and tears and LOST episodes.

I feel like I should put a positive spin on this... how pain can be a lesson, blah blah blah... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger... blah blah blah... but really, it just sucks. There is no uplifting conclusion here.  It's about accepting that life comes with crap as well as beauty.

My good friend Laura Pritchett (who serves as my model for managing chronic pain with grace) wrote an insightful article about this in the spring issue of Fort Collins magazine. (You can read it here.)

My apologies if this post isn't very well-written, but honestly, I feel like crap now.  I'm going to fix myself a cup of tea and try to write another chapter, and if that doesn't work, the couch and LOST reruns await.