I am always in pain. For some reason, the damaged nerves - in addition to sending random signals to the muscles in my legs and feet so that they are always moving, twitching, cramping - mistakenly send pain signals too. Sometimes my skin burns, as I imagine shingles would feel. Sometimes my muscles ache. Sometimes it's like having a vice on my feet and calves, getting tighter and tighter. Sometimes it's like pins and needles all up and down my legs. Sometimes it's all of the above or a combination of some. Whatever the pain du jour, it's always with me to some degree. On this cute little pain scale, below, I'd say I'm typically at the 4-6 level, sometimes creeping into 7-9. I don't know that I've ever hit 10, at least not with this iteration of pain.
I have gotten pretty good at powering through it and/or masking it. When I'm doing something fun, like singing in the choir or hanging out with friends, I can often forget about being in pain. That can come back to bite me if I overdo it - being on my feet a lot, walking or standing - but it's usually worth the trade-off. I've modified my life so that I don't do too many things in a day; if I do, the pain or the fatigue will catch up and level me. Life tends to become a smaller enterprise when chronic pain is a part of it.
Pain management has been mostly unsatisfactory for this problem. I've taken a variety of medications, tried acupuncture, meditation, a TENS unit, marijuana (now legal in Oregon and Washington). The pot and opioids can take the edge off, but they make me drowsy and render me ... well, not at my best. Like the little orange pain face, they make it "difficult to concentrate and may interfere with your ability to do certain normal activities." The quest continues for the magic combination.
I went in search of quotes about pain (because it's always a cool thing to add to a blog post, right?) and found a variety of thoughts, from sickly sweet inspirational ("Pain is a gift!") to downright depressing ("There are days I fucking hate everybody!"). This is the only one that resonated with me: