Living with chronic pain or any type of chronic illness can often be like living life in the slow lane. My life is certainly like that. I have two speeds – slow or very slow. I know that I’m simply not fit for a different type of lifestyle. I accept that I need to live my life in the slow lane.
Obviously, I wish I didn’t live with pain, but I do actually enjoy the slow lane lifestyle. I avoid driving on stressful busy motorways, preferring to take my time on quiet country roads. I don’t enjoy trailing around busy shopping centres. Instead, I’d rather shop online or go to small local shops. I would hate to live in a bustling town or city. And I am lucky enough to live in a quiet, rural location.
I live in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, nestled in the hills of the Scottish Borders. I see breathtaking scenery every day of my life. Our neighbours live three miles from us and my nearest shop is twelve miles away. We have no passing traffic, only the occasional rambler or farm vehicle. I love the quietness. We have clean, fresh air all around us and the most delicious crystal clear water. It’s a gorgeous place to live.
It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. But it does throw some obstacles in front of us at times. We need to be prepared for any eventuality. Winter can prove difficult. We’ve been snowed in for weeks at a time. One year, the bridge leading to our house was damaged during a storm. We were at one side of the river, the rest of the world at the other. We’ve always got food in the freezer and our kitchen cupboards are well stocked, but the biggest concern in the winter is my medication. It would be okay to run out of sugar or milk, but I can’t afford to run out of medication.
There is a ten mile stretch of narrow, windy, often potholed, road through a valley leading to my house. There are passing places every so often because some parts of the road are only wide enough for one vehicle. Driving along this country road is most definitely slow paced. It has to be. Nobody can travel at high speeds and we probably never make a journey without being held up or having to stop in a passing place to let another vehicle pass.
I once compared living with chronic pain to the unpredictable Scottish weather. But I could also compare it to travelling along this country road.
Living Life on the Slow Lane With Chronic Pain
There is no mobile phone signal in parts of the valley, so if we have an accident or run out of fuel, we might need to wait a while before getting rescued. So it’s important to try to ensure that we don’t get into that situation.
Fuel is energy. Due to my pain, energy is a commodity which I easily run out of and when that happens, it isn’t easily fixed. Nobody can rescue me. Nobody can replace my energy. A good nights sleep or an afternoon nap doesn’t help. It can have lasting consequences. I can’t push myself too far. I pace myself, take frequent rests and practice self-care. I need to try to ensure I look after myself as well as possible so that I don’t get into that situation.
Being Patient When Living with Pain
On this lovely country road, we never know what lies ahead, so we need to drive slowly and cautiously.
It’s a popular spot for walkers and campers. Horses, deer, farm animals and all kinds of wildlife could wander in front of us. Some days the road might be clear and allow us to drive the full length without stopping. Other days, we might be stuck behind two hundred sheep being moved between fields. On those days, the normal 20 minute journey out of the valley might take twice that time. Patience is the order of the day. There’s no point in trying to get anywhere faster. It just doesn’t happen.
That’s just what my life with pain is like. There’s no point in trying to rush. It’s just not possible. I never know what’s around the corner. I don’t know how my pain will be from minute to minute, never mind day to day, so I just need to go with the flow, accept it and be prepared for any eventuality. And as for patience…that should be my middle name.
Manoeuvring Through Life With Pain
When you live with chronic pain, you need to manoeuvre through life just as carefully as we manoeuvre around those potholes on my country road. I need to look out for triggers and avoid them if I can, otherwise my pain will worsen. Just like my bridge being destroyed by the storm, one wrong move could leave me in a worse state for days, weeks or even months.
Living in the slow lane because of pain isn’t easy, but it is something I have come to accept.
Living in the Slow Lane is the Only Option
Most people have a choice in life. They can choose the slow lane or the fast lane. But people with chronic pain or other health conditions don’t have that choice. The slow lane is the only option.
But it isn’t all bad.
We might notice things which healthier people take for granted. They don’t always notice the small things. They’re too busy rushing their way through life. So busy that they often don’t have time for other people.
Living in the slow lane due to chronic pain or illness means that we notice other people on the same journey. We recognise the journey they’re on. We understand their journey. We have time for them. And they have time for us. They might stop to spend a few minutes with us, even though it makes their own journey a bit longer. They might even point out something that they noticed along the way. And, if you need a bit of help, it is guaranteed that they will try to help. They will be supportive and offer a few words of advice or encouragement. If they can do nothing else, they’ll stay by your side until you are able to carry on.
Does that happen with people living in the fast lane? Most of them have their eye on the destination and don’t notice anything else. Most of them are too busy to even stop to say hello.
I said most because, thankfully, there are some healthy people who choose to travel on the slow lane along with us. They do it because they want to help the people who have no choice. There are many people out there like that. And if you are one of those people, I want to thank you. You are making someone’s journey a little bit easier.
Are you travelling in the slow lane? I hope that you can find some good points to your journey. Stop for a minute to notice what’s around you. Stop and say hello to your fellow travellers and ask how they are because today might be a struggle for them. Everyone needs support sometimes and your friendly face might help them get through the day.