Day in the Life with Chronic Pain

I’ve briefly written before about my chronic pain, but it feels like time to give you all a little insight into how this impacts my daily life. While my pain levels and fatigue vary day to day, I try to maintain a steady routine – although obviously it does vary if I’m just too tired or in too much pain! So, if you’ve ever wondered what the day of a tired and achy Marketing Officer looks like, here’s your chance to find out.

Morning

I generally wake up between 7 and 8am. Some days I’m lucky and am well rested and ready to jump into my day, but more commonly I then spend an hour rolling around in bed, snuggling with Roxy and drifting in and out of sleep. I do a lot of stretching in the morning as well, trying to get all my joints warmed up after eight hours lying in one position (well, hopefully eight hours). Once actually awake, I drag myself to the shower and get dressed. I used to only ever shower in the evening, but the brief break from my back pain that the hot water gives me is essential for me to be able to leave my flat in the morning – especially now it’s getting colder outside! So now I make time for an honestly far too long shower to set my day up right.

Sometimes I then have time to have breakfast, but more often I have to grab something during my commute to keep me going. I try to leave for work by 8.30am, so if I haven’t gotten out of bed by 8, I don’t have time for a luxurious breakfast!

My commute varies day to day – there is a train station right by my flat, so on days when I’m feeling quite achy or fatigued, I get the train into town from there. It’s expensive though, so I try to stick to getting the Underground where possible. I often will get the bus to the station, but as I’m trying to increase my daily activity (prevents the arthritis from getting worse!) I will sometimes walk, especially when the weather isn’t too bad. It’s also good for my mental health to have a nice relaxing walk in the morning!

Once I’m on a train, I’ve been trying to read more – while I haven’t set a goal to read more this year, I am trying to continue my good work from last year! But sometimes I just play games on my phone while listening to podcasts. I normally take five minutes to check my work email ahead of time as well, to delete all the junk mail I get and have an idea of what’s awaiting me when I get to the office.

I generally get into work between half 9 and 10 (depending on if I stopped for breakfast on the way). The first thing I do most days is take some painkillers – I think in the back of my mind I’m still optimistic that the pain will go away on it’s own after a little while, even though that has literally never happened. I also take my other daily medication at 10am each day. Then I grab my first cup of tea for the day to get a little caffeine boost!

My morning is typically spent responding to emails, catching up on news that may be relevant to our organisation, and queuing social media posts for that day and beyond. I try to keep any short, easy tasks to the morning – I am not a morning person by any definition, and anything that requires a lot of creative thinking needs to wait until the afternoon! Depending on what’s happening at work, that can include listing events, gathering data and collecting media to go with social posts.

Afternoon

I typically have lunch at around 1pm (to be honest, normally eaten at my desk). After lunch and I’m a bit more awake, I move onto more ‘brain intensive’ work. This includes developing our social media strategy, writing and editing copy and any little graphic design jobs that need doing.

The only exception to this pattern is on a Wednesday I take a quick break at 3pm and head downstairs to our Disability and Inclusion programme. I drive the minibus to the local school to collect our young people and and bring them into the building for a fun arts session with our team. I really love these little escapes, because it gives me an opportunity to remember and see first hand the benefits of the work my organisation does. I also work with this group every other Saturday, working with a small group of young people with disabilities each week, helping them develop skills through activities such as music making, artwork, drama and, of course, playing games.

Evening

On a normal day, I leave the office at about 6 and head off my commute home. When I get home at 7, Roxy is always waiting by the door for me, eager to get her first evening snuggle in. Or to tell me that she’s run out of food, or there’s a weird bug on the floor, or that her litter tray has moved one inch to the left. But it’s usually for a snuggle.

Once the cat has been pampered, I get on with cooking my dinner and normally settle in front of the TV for a little bit. On a work night, I don’t generally get much housework done – I’m so tired by 8 o’clock that it seems an impossibility – but I do potter around a little bit and get some stuff done when I can. I also almost always phone my parents in the evening – essential for my mental health, even if they’re really fed up it at this point. But I need the evening check in to either reassure them that I’m fine, or them to reassure me that I’m fine.

Other evening activities include hours scrolling on the internet, practising the cello and occasionally, playing video games. But mostly, unless there’s something with a time limit on it meaning I have to finish it that night, I’m in bed by 10 o’clock. Long gone are my pre-fatigue days of staying up till 1am!

Bedtime is another time for Roxy snuggles, and she’s almost always right behind me, ready to jump on my pillow. I try to take a moment to record my daily pain (where it was and how bad it was) so that I can get better at looking for patterns. I then sometimes read some more of my book, but if I’m really tired I just put a podcast on and tend to drift off before the sleep timer runs out.

And then the whole cycle starts again the next morning!

I’d love to hear what your day to day life looks like! Let me know in the comments – or even better, make your own post about your daily routine and link to it!

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