My father-in-law is suffering from a type of myalgia. He went from being a busy, robust, involved man into, well, an old man literally over the period of a few weeks. They still don't know exactly what happened and treatments have been sort of hit or miss. We helped, we tried to be supportive, and have done what we could. We truly felt for him and have been trying to help ever since.
Then a few months ago something happened to me. Here in the US the drug companies advertise relentlessly. Ever heard the lipitor commercials? Know the part where they say "If you experience muscle pain or weakness this may be a sign of a rare and serious side effect?" Well, that hit me about 2 weeks before thanksgiving. One day I woke up with what felt like a horrible pull in a small muscle in my right leg. Okay, I'm 46, it happens, so I take it easy. Two days later it starts in the other leg. Okay, problem... See the doctor. They take blood -- by now my legs and hips are hurting like hell. Constantly. And weak. Blood work comes in and the doctor says "Yes, the blood work confirms your muscles are hurting." Thank you Captain Obvious. We had changed the statin I was taking due to changes in insurance just a month before. Apparently my body wasn't happy with the new one.
I had trouble walking, standing, moving, sleeping, anything. One evening I got down on the floor with my daughter to watch a movie. It ended, she got up and went to bed. She said "come on, daddy, read me a story..." as she left the room. I started to get up and crumpled back on the floor -- my legs couldn't lift me from the ground. It was a combination of searing pain and simply that the muscles seemed to "not work" for lack of a better description. I end up crawling to a chair and lift myself into it. From there I could get up. As I sat there my appreciation of the condition of my father-in-law changed completely. I struggled into her bedroom and read her the story standing up. Because I didn't dare sit down on her bed out of fear I wouldn't be able to get up. I simply didn't want to scare her.
Fast forward to now. No training. Off the meds obviously. My work output plummeted (along with my income as I'm self-employed). No exercise apart from gentle walks. At this point the pain seems to be limited to what I think is the piriformis muscle (i.e., my right butt cheek is killing me). I still haven't stressed anything as it feels like anytime I do it takes forever for the muscle to recover. On bad days I'll take a pain pill or more. Sometimes at night it is a muscle relaxant and pain pill. But I just can't do aikido. Not yet at least.
For me the thing is that there is improvement and by most accounts I should continue to get better as the effects of the med clear my system. I will be back and that is an incredible motivating thing for me. That said I can't *even imagine* how people in constant pain deal with it, especially if the prognosis is more of the same or worse yet. It is a constant stress, constantly tearing you down, constantly with you, dulling everything you try. I see myself in a whole new light as well. I'm not as strong as I thought. Or maybe it is better to say I've learned how little I knew before.
Soooo... What's the point? No, I'm no looking for sympathy -- I'm blessed in that I'm getting better. But I am never saying a *thing* to anyone who experiences chronic pain other than "is there anything I can do to help". No judgement. If you want to talk about "it has to be felt", well, you really need to walk in their shoes for a while to truly appreciate the complexity (physically and emotionally) of these sorts of things.
Now I'm over checking up on my father-in-law a lot more often making sure we help out as much as we can. Even if it hurts me. Because he's hurting more.
I ain't complaining about every day stuff any more... How naive it all seems now.
Sorry for the tangent, but part of this has been really relevant to my life lately.