couch-msRecently I received a phone call late in the evening. It seems someone had found out that I advocate for people living with pain and had come across my contact info.

Our conversation consisted of me listening to a young lady tell me that she could not do anything around the home, that when she moved it caused her pain to increase. So, day in and day out she laid on the couch and watched television. If she moved she hurt more.

Her husband of 10 years had always been her biggest supporter but lately he seemed to be getting more and more frustrated as each day passed. He worked all day to provide for them and then came home and prepared dinner, washed clothes and cleaned around the house.

She admitted that he was tired and that this situation was taking a toll on him to be the only person working outside the home and then coming home to take care of her and their home. What was she to do, if she got up and moved around her pain may increase? She is so afraid to get up off the couch!

As we talked it became clear that she was stuck in the world of “I can’t.” Whenever I would suggest her starting out slowly and getting up each day and work on one task at a time, I would hear, “I can’t.  I will hurt more”.

Now, I have lived with pain for 20+ years and I do understand what it is like to live with pain 24/7, 365 days a year. However, here is how I see it–there comes a point in time when you have to decide if you are going to live your life or just exist.

She could not see beyond the pain, she could not see what a huge affect her inability to try was having on her husband. All she could see was that he was not as supportive as he once was and she just could not understand why. She admitted that she felt her marriage was in jeopardy due to what life had become for the two of them. She spoke about how much she loved her husband and she knew he loved her just as much.

“Why is he frustrated with me?” That was the question she kept asking me. The more we talked the more I could hear how afraid she was of losing her marriage.  If only she would get up off the couch.

I tried to explain to her that it was totally normal for her husband to be frustrated. After all in his eyes his job is to protect her–to fix whatever life throws their way. But he cannot fix her pain, he cannot take the pain away. He would if he could in a heartbeat, but because he cannot he is left with frustration. He is also frustrated because he sees his wife of 10 years giving up and not trying to fight back and not let the pain win. That beyond anything else must surely be frustrating him the most.

How do I know this? I know this because after many years of living with pain, I saw this in my own life with my own husband. He too was and still is my biggest supporter but at one point in our lives I saw the frustration because I gave up the fight. The way my husband saw it was as long as we fought the battle together we would survive. As long as we climbed each mountain together, we would reach the top. We were, are and will always be partners in life. Part of my fight, was to get up off the couch.

I shared all of this with her, in hopes that she would see her life wasn’t over. She still had so much to give to her husband and marriage. She still had so much to give to herself. Did I get through, I honestly don’t know. I asked that she call me back whenever she needed to talk to someone. I sure hope she does.

You see even though we live our lives with pain, we still have so much left to give to our families and friends. We still have much to accomplish and we can do it all. We only have to see through the pain and once you see through the pain you’re life becomes yours again. You’re life becomes happy, fun and fulfilled again.

So, please get up off the couch!

How? It doesn’t have to be a major activity, start out slow and easy. Pick a task that you can do in stages. For example, make a meal for your family. Need recipe ideas and tips? See TPC’s Comfort Cookin’ blogs and discussion forums (premium membership required).

  • Pick something that you can put together quickly and bake. (That way you do not have to stand over the stove but you are still giving your family a homemade meal prepared with love.)
  • Activity one: Gather the needed ingredients on your countertop, chop and store in the refrigerator, then relax & rest
  •  Activity two: Combine the ingredients  and place it in the oven to back, relax & rest—set the timer to remind you to take it out on time
  • Activity three: Remove the item from the oven and allow it to cool, then set the table, relax & rest
  • Activity four: Enjoy the meal with your family; ask for someone to do the dishes for you or with you—take rest breaks as needed.

It is all about pacing. Think about tasks that you can work on in 15 minute intervals, work 15 minutes and rest 15 minutes. You will be very surprised at how much you get accomplished by following this easy step. Please don’t give up the fight, when you give up the fight you are also giving up on those who are you’re biggest supporters.

You can do this. You can take control of your life away from the pain and put it back in your hands. Simply, get up off the couch.

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