Chronic Pain is Unpredictable, Just Like Scottish Weather

Spring is upon us. At least, it should be. I live in the hills of the Scottish Borders and because we sit quite high (1150 feet above sea level), Spring always comes to us a little bit later than elsewhere. Even just a few miles down the valley, we notice daffodils blooming, while ours are just starting to sprout out of the ground.

Unpredictable Scottish Weather

Springtime in Scotland. Spring. Daffodil in snow.

One day last week, I noticed that our daffodils were blooming. Spring had sprung. Then I woke up the following morning to find a lovely, thick blanket of snow on the ground. Today, there’s no snow. Nor is there sunshine or blue sky. I can barely see twenty feet in front of the house because of mist. Spring???

That kind of weather’s not unusual in Scotland. Sun, rain, hail, snow, wind – it doesn’t matter the name of the season, our weather has a mind of its own and it can change in an instant. When I was young, it was drummed in to me to take a jacket and carry an umbrella even if the sun was splitting the trees. And when the sun does split the trees, I’ve learned to make the most of it, because it might not be here for long.

We might sometimes have four seasons in one day, but our weather is what makes Scotland so beautiful. It gives us our gorgeous scenery, but it really is very unpredictable.

Scottish weather is unpredictable, but it makes Scotland beautiful. Scottish scenery, mountains, Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Chronic Pain is Unpredictable

I often think that living with chronic pain could be compared to living with Scottish weather. Chronic pain is unpredictable too.

I know that I will have pain every day, but I just don’t know how much or how badly it will affect me.

Chronic pain is unpredictable just like Scottish Weather. Thistle in picture.

Today I might manage to go shopping to the supermarket with my husband, but tomorrow I might not be fit to sit in the car for the twenty minute journey to get there.

Today I might manage to bake a cake or do some art or crafting, but tomorrow I might struggle to stand long enough to make a cup of tea.

Today I might manage to brush my teeth, but tomorrow my trigeminal neuralgia could be too painful to even attempt it.

But my pain doesn’t just change from day to day. It can change from hour to hour, or even minute to minute.

One minute I could be having relatively low pain, then it all goes belly up and I could by lying in bed for the rest of the day and reaching for extra pain relief for my back. Or I could be enjoying my dinner, then suddenly the trigeminal neuralgia fires into action stopping me from eating.

Unpredictable. That’s life with any kind of chronic condition.

Preparing For The Unpredictable

Wearing a jacket and carrying an umbrella isn’t enough to prepare for pain, but I do whatever I can try to either lessen or prevent it.

I try to rest, practice self-care and take my medication regularly. I’ve learned that missing or being late with one dose, can worsen my pain. I always carry extra pain medication when I do go out just in case I need it.

Often you need to make adjustments and compromises when you live with chronic pain. Painting, paint brushes.

When I make plans, I accept that I might need to change them at times. I don’t stop all activities because of my pain, but I do often have to do things differently than I’d like. I still want to be active and participate in hobbies, so I might give myself time limits. Making adjustments and compromises can allow me to still do some of the things I love doing.

I also realise, and accept, that doing some things might cause me more pain. But sometimes a bit of payback is worth it. I still need to enjoy my life, despite the pain.

Appreciating Better Days

Just as I appreciate the glimpses of Scottish sunshine, I appreciate each and every moment when I have less pain. And on the more painful days, I look for silver linings on clouds. When everything feels dark, I try to find some brightness.

I find brightness everywhere. In the daffodils, in birds, in the lambs in the field in front of my house. It’s in laughter and in music. I find it in my husband, my family and friends and in happy memories. I always find brightness in the little things in life. I’ve written about it before, here. Little things, especially when you live with chronic illness of any type, mean so much.

Little Things, Even Colours, Make Me Happy

Coloured pencils, bright, happy, colourful.

When I was a little girl, I loved the colour red. Bright, vibrant red. As I grew older, my favourite colour changed to green. All shades of green. Mint green, teal green, bottle green and every-shade-in-between green. I have a couch that’s green. I have clothes that are green. My blog is green. My eyes that are green. (Okay, I didn’t actually choose them – but I’m happy they’re green). I look out my windows at the surrounding countryside, and I see a thousand shades of green in the grass, leaves and trees.

I do love green, but a few months ago I discovered I had a new favourite colour. Another blogger, Brain Embryos, nominated me for a blogging award. She had to pose a few questions to her nominees. One of her questions was :

Describe the colour yellow to someone who is blind.

And my answer was :

It’s that feeling of walking outside on a summer’s day when the sun hits your face. It has warmth and brightness and you can feel that sunshine glowing all around you and it gives you a happy feeling. It feels like it will wash away your worries. It makes me smile. Touch my face, and you’ll feel my smile and the creases around my eyes because I’m smiling. Warm, bright, happy and hopeful – that’s yellow.

Yellow Means Hope

After I wrote that, I realised that yellow is my new favourite colour. Yellow symbolises everything I love about life. But most of all, it symbolises hope.

As soon as the yellow daffodils start poking up through hard ground, they instantly put a smile on my face. After a long, cold, dreary winter, Spring is bringing everything back to life. It’s a reminder that, no matter how bleak it’s been, there’s hope for the future. Always. It’s the start of a new season. New hope.

In the same way that Spring always follows winter, I try to remember that good days will come after bad. Today I could be in excruciating pain, but I always remain hopeful that tomorrow could be better. And if not tomorrow, the following day. Or maybe the day after. I stay optimistic about it. I need to.

I’d love to hear what you think. Is your chronic health condition also unpredictable like Scottish weather? Does Spring cheer you up after a dreary winter? What’s your favourite colour, and to borrow Brain Embryo’s question, how would you describe it to a blind person?

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36 thoughts on “Chronic Pain is Unpredictable, Just Like Scottish Weather

    1. I can’t imagine what you have to go through. I never really understood chronic pain until I started reading your blog. Thank you very much for sharing your journey with us. Purple is my favorite color. I blossom Everytime I see it.


  1. While I was reading this blog, I felt like I am reading about myself. The title itself is intriguing. I suffer from different chronic illness. I can even understand when somedays even sitting in a car for 20mins is a challenge. Trigeminal neuralgia is another annoying unavoidable thing. Literally, the weather makes impacts on my health many times. At the same time, health is also unpredictable like the weather. I had to always struggle to accomplish plans and it won’t be a surprise if I don’t make it. I haven’t seen Scottish through a real visit. But, through your writing, I was able to imagine the changing weather. Watching daffodils must be a bliss 🙂 I try to find joy in little things and some people would sometimes think of me as I am exaggerating emotional person. But, in reality, only I know why it is important to cherish the little things because that’s what keeps me/us going 🙂 Nicely written post 🙂


  2. Your weather up there is a bit like here in my corner of the UK (midlands to SW) but on a much more extreme scale. One minute a bit of sunshine & pretty flowers & birds, then next grey and sudden torrential downpours. Then a bit of sunshine, followed by snow. Ugh. Can’t keep up with it. And you’re right, it mirrors the unpredictable, tumultuous nature of chronic illness. That makes it hard to plan, but it’s also frustrating trying to ‘go with the flow’ especially where you need to do certain things on certain days. Trying to be prepared for whatever happens and however you’re feeling can help take a little pressure off, especially on those days where you’re capable of next to nothing, and that can help you feel like you’re living your life the best you can.

    Appreciating the little things is something that really hit me in the face with chronic illness. I’m so grateful for the small things now, and take more joy in simple pleasures. I love your description of yellow, it really is an uplifting colour. We have to hold on to that hope, even more so on the days when it’s harder to feel it.

    Great post that I think a lot of us will be able to relate to.
    Caz xx


  3. ok, this chick does not like wearing yellow. I do not know why. But I agree with how you described it, spot on. The weather can affect chronic pain and moods. But yes, my illness means that I never really can plan things and stick to the plan. Flexible, that is or has become my being, Most people will never understand the need to be prepared like us. My favorite is purple, deep and rich. To discribe it I think of the smell of concord grapes or grape jelly. It is like chocolate, and coffee. Two smells that I also adore.


  4. Lovely descriptions and you definitely captured the turbulent nature of living with chronic illness. The description of the color yellow is charming! It always reminds me of walking in the sunshine. My favorite color is red perhaps because it is bold and vibrant!


  5. Your Scottish weather reminds me of exactly what I am going through here in the NorthEastern United States. Sunday we fired our grill up for burgers and it was so nice outside. Monday we got 6 inches of snow and the roads are going from slush to ice as I travel. Both seasons are beautiful but my spirit really needs the spring time right now. Over the last two years we have noticed we no longer have four seasons.. the weather is always changing and unpredictable. As you compare it to your chronic pain. Yes there are so many good days and then bad days. The bad days really do make it easier for me to appreciate the good days that I have. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this beautiful post.


  6. We have an eternal humid summer here (which is not as awesome as people think it is, either). Your question was very interesting!

    My favourite colour is red. How I’d describe it to a blind person hmm…

    It is what you see when your heart races because you are boiling with anger. You feel it coursing through your veins, hard and fast, reaching your brain. It doesn’t consume you whole or leave you drained (that would fade to grey or black), but remains at this constant energy and constant fury.

    Heh…where’s the love in that 😉


  7. One of my favorites colors is yellow! Our living room color is called Sweet Butter. When we moved in we had just finished painting the room when the cable company came in to install TV. The guy took one look at the walls and said good luck covering that color! We laughed. Cover it, we just painted it and love it! Weather is pretty fickle here in the US these days as well. 75 degrees yesterday and 50 today.


  8. I can’t relate to the chronic pain (thankfully I suppose) but I do love the Scottish weather comparison as I live in Edinburgh. Vancouver, where I’m from, can be similar as well! I’d say my favourite colour in general is red – I’m not sure I could exactly explain why, but perhaps because it is such a bright and bold colour.


  9. fourcolu

    my wife is scottish. I know someone close who has arthritis and forwarding this article to her. Thanks for being real, vulnerable and transparent about your physical symptons.
    Jerry Godinho


  10. arun

    What an accurate description . We never know how we will feel in the next moment. Everything is unpredictable. Symptoms can pop up any time.
    Green is my favourite colour. It gives me peace.


  11. Lyosha Varezhkina

    Chronic pain is torture but is tolerable. people are so unique, we can live with pretty much anything. I can say that because I used to suffer from chronic pain. Fortunately now I no longer have it due to simple treatment I received (far too late but still I am thankful for getting it at all)


  12. Joyce Osiango

    I love colors in general but purple does strick me most of the time so I will say purple it is. I can imagine how it can be to have an unpredictable chronic pain.


  13. Jennifer McCormick

    Despite the obstacles you are undergoing, I appreciate that you focus on the positive. When there are good moments you embrace them and accept that sometimes plans will need to change. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I believe you will inspire others to also find good in life’s everyday moments.


  14. I visited Scotland many years ago for drive through the highlands for about a week or so (rhyming inadvertent). The weather was stunning — blue skies and sunshine the entire time. Probably hasn’t happened since. 🙂 I also live with chronic pain and you are absolutely right — you can go through all the seasons in one day. Sometimes even in one hour. Being prepared, both physically and mentally, is a key part to being able to enjoy life anyway.


  15. Not only Scottish weather…its anything British. Those are past times I hate to remember, dressing light because of warm weather only to be looking for Primark to buy cheap jacket because it suddenly got cold.
    Glad your sense of humor is still great. All the very best.


  16. Kippi O'Hern

    Green and yellow are my favorite colors. Every room in my house was painted yellow until now. We are painting them all white to sell. I agree those yellow daffodils bring a smile and a hope.
    Happy Spring, Kippi


  17. I guess Scottish and Michigan weathers are relatives. lol. We just woke up on a fresh snow on the ground this morning. Not really sure where’s spring right now. 😀


  18. I love the spring weather after a long winter. Here, we always say it has to snow three times on the daffodils before the bad weather is gone for good. Being prepared and appreciating the good days is all that you can do, whether it be for weather or for chronic pain. Good luck to you.


  19. Swagata

    I am so sorry for what you have been going through. But you are so much more than your illness! You are an inspiration to other suffering from similar conditions. Loved all the positivity which is reflecting though your post.


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  21. Jaime A. Heidel - The Articulate Autistic

    My favorite colors are coral and teal, and I honestly am not sure how I would explain them to a blind person. I might do it by taste, though. Maybe strawberries and cream for coral?


  22. I know exactly what you mean about the weather and the chronic pain! I live in mid Cheshire which doesn’t have quite so many extremes (we rarely get enough snow to cover the ground), but the temperature has been up and down this week. My eye pain has been just the same. One day I felt quite good and was very productive. Then I got into my car to drive to my mum’s house, and I could barely see straight. I don’t know what caused it, but I really struggled with that journey. Bizarre!

    Hmm, as for colours, I have so many favourites that it would take me all day to describe them…


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