The Cycle of Pain with IBS
Living with pain on a daily basis is draining, physically and mentally. While some people with IBS experience pain only on some days, other people are unfortunate enough to experience it daily. When that happens, it can take much more out of you than may you realize.
The strange thing about pain
One of the strange things about pain is how it changes when you have it all the time. You can actually get used to pain if it’s something you experience often enough. Your body develops a tolerance to the pain so that it doesn’t seem as bad as when it first started. This mechanism of tolerance is used by your nervous system to stop pain from overloading your brain, because no one can live in constant and overwhelming pain.
The really strange thing though is that the more often you feel pain, the more normal it seems to become. It can seem like it’s almost part of your normal routine and you come to expect that the pain should be there. While it’s terrible being in pain all the time, you learn to live with it and still get on with things.
You never know how much pain you’re in until it’s gone
When your pain stops, from pain relief or because your IBS isn’t being triggered, the blissful feeling of painlessness is wonderful. This is another strange thing about pain, where you don’t understand how much pain you were in until after it’s gone. It’s like when you’ve been sick with a terrible cold and then you’ve gotten better. It’s only when you stop to think about how good you feel that you realize just how sick you were at the time.
While it’s reassuring to know that your sense of pain can dull when the pain is always there, this tolerance to pain can work against you. Because if you don’t truly understand how bad the pain is, you don’t work as hard to make the pain go away.
But you can also forget how bad the pain was after it’s gone
Once your IBS is well controlled and you’re able to stay mostly pain free or only have occasional niggles, you tend to forget how bad the pain was at its worst. Again, this is your brain protecting you. It doesn’t want to hang onto bad memories if it doesn’t have to. So it suppresses those memories of pain and gets on with things.
That is until something happens to trigger your symptoms again. And then you feel it all over again and get a reminder of how bad it used to be. That’s when you suddenly wake up and tell yourself that you’ll never do anything to let your IBS be triggered. Well, until you see something you desperately want to eat and can’t say no to. And then you get reminded again and decide to set your resolve even firmer to prevent a ‘next time’.
This cycle of pain in IBS is frustrating. It’s there, it’s not, then it’s there again. If only the cycle of pain in IBS could be broken once and for all. There’s nothing I wish for more.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?