To the average person, there is an obvious difference between emotional and physical pain. To a lupus patient, the lines between emotional and physical blur very easily. I'm sad to say that last month my father passed away at the age of 58. People always talk about the stages of grief, the crying, the denial, but what they don't tell us lupies is that we have to deal with not only the emotional upheaval of losing a loved one, but also the physical pain that grief can bring.
After hearing that doctor say my father was dead, I couldn't sleep for days. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could think of was that I wasn't going to see my dad again. I still don't think that part of it has sunk in, even today. While the pain in my heart seemed excruciating, my body was also taking a toll. The lack of sleep was aggravating my fibromyalgia and the stress of everything that we had to get done was increasing my pain levels. At that point, I don't even know if I was feeling the pain as much as I was scared to slow down and think about the fact that my dad would never be here again.
My family is incredibly close and that was really my saving grace in those first few days. Having amazing family and friends can really save you when you feel like you're world is falling apart. As much as my family encouraged me to rest and take breaks, I couldn't allow myself to slow down. I needed to stay busy, make phone calls, do anything that would keep me from dwelling on the idea that my dad wasn't around anymore.
Those things got me through the first few days, but they also came at a very high price. My body was throbbing in pain, my joints were swollen, but I still couldn't seem to make myself relax and rest. I was taking pain med's for the increased pain levels, but there's only so much they can do. In my head, I knew that I needed to slow down and take care of myself, but inside I really didn't care. I just wanted to get through the service and figured I'd deal with the rest after that.
There is an internal battle with lupus patient's who know what they are supposed to do to take care of themselves and what they really want to do so they can get through the day. I know better than to run myself ragged, but I didn't feel like I had any other option at the time. My physical pain became unimportant due to the emotional pain consuming me. I suppose that's the real question now isn't it, what is more important? The physical or the emotional? I don't have the answer to that one, but all I can say is that in my case, I ignored my physical pain in order to handle the waves of grief as they came. At the time, it seemed like the only option to get me through the day, but it definitely came with a price.
I have had three trips to the hospital since dad's passing and my lupus is flaring like crazy, but I am hanging in there. The doctors aren't sure when things will get back to normal, but who knows what normal is anyways? I miss my dad every day and I suppose I probably always will. The hurt gets a little less every day, but the pains in my body are still there as well. I guess that in the end, pain is pain and we all handle it the best we can. This is just one of the many challenges a lupus patient faces. Please tell all your loved ones that you care for them and I hope none of you faces the challenge of handling grief anytime soon.