The thing about living with chronic pain is that you forget that it is there. It becomes the baseline. The normal. The only times that you even remember that you are in pain is when you do something that causes it to flare up or when for some unexplained reason the pain temporarily goes away.
The flare ups are normal. You expect them. You have learned the work arounds. Over the last year or so people have become used to seeing you rubbing your shoulder. They no longer ask you if you are OK. Or if you need help lifting that box. That is just who you are the person that whines about your bum shoulder. Although, you never actually whine. You don’t even acknowledge the pain. The shoulder rubbing is just reflex.
But even them, the people that can no longer stand how much you complain about your arm (You never complain about your arm.), they don’t even notice the limp that you have been suppressing for the last 17 years. You don’t even remember the way it felt the last time it flared up. You just washed a couple of aspirins down with your last glass of water before bed and then complained about the strange bout of insomnia that you were having that night because not even you notice the intense pain that is keeping you awake.
But when the pain goes away. Those rare days when you wake up whistling, when you want to jump down the stairs, when you want to go to the park and join a pick up, but you don’t. That is when you realize something is wrong. You don’t do any of those things because you know that something is very wrong.
You remember the daily pain and pull back from living. Your normal daily activities are now too dangerous to attempt because you don’t want to shorten this ever too brief respite. Now, you know something is very wrong.
You want to go to the doctor and make him fix it. You want some sort of diagnosis. It must be something. Your doctor must have some cure. But you feel better, so you can’t bring yourself to go. You will talk to the doctor when it hurts again, but it is too late. The pain is back, and you have already forgotten what it feels like.