CHRONIC-PAIN- Calling in sick

chronic pain, challenges, spoonie

I called in SICK today.

This in itself is not noteworthy.  You might be wondering why I would even bother to bring it up.

I am sick today.  I will spare you the details; however, it’s important that you know that I’m in fact sick.  I have sick days available to me.  I haven’t done anything against company policy.  I’ve no doubt that my colleagues would agree with me that it was APPROPRIATE to call in sick today.

So why am I not lounging in my bed guilt free? Why am I struggling with the decision?

 CHRONIC PAIN - Calling in sick
The short answer?  Calling in sick today feels like a step backwards for me.

So what’s the long answer?  Because obviously there’s much more to it, if I’m writing about it.


If you live with EVER-PRESENT PAIN, then you know that every day has some level of struggle that’s directly related to that pain.  Of course, you don’t have to have chronic pain to be struggling.

Most people face some kind of struggle day in and day out whether or not they have compromised health.  So, I guess my thoughts today really could apply to just about anyone.  Just replace “pain” with whatever holds you back from being your most optimized self.

But, I have pain every day.  So WHY is today NOTEWORTHY?

It’s not about the level of pain – that was much WORSE yesterday and the day before.

It’s not about the level of support – it hasn’t changed from yesterday.

CHRONIC PAIN - Calling in sick

So why is today’s struggle DIFFERENT?

It all comes back to my decision this morning to call in sick, and the fact that this decision goes against a commitment I made to myself.  Because even though I am sick, I know deep down that the symptoms of my illness are being directly driven by pain.

When I realized that chronic pain wasn’t going to be something that could be easily fixed by changing my diet and reducing my stress but rather would be a part of my life LONG-TERM, I promised myself that I would NEVER use it as a an excuse to shirk my responsibilities – which basically translates into never calling in sick because of the pain.

Of course, this promise is a little more complicated than just that.  My job requires regular medicals.  And the truth is my chronic pain could result in me becoming medically unfit for my job.  When I go for my medical this year, I wanted to be able to say to the doctor that I’ve NEVER missed work due to my chronic pain.

I even mentioned that very thing to one of my colleagues this week.  The pain was really high – higher than it has been since I returned to work.  (I was returning to the work force after being home with my children not due to my health).  She noticed that I wasn’t feeling well and asked me about it.  I told her I didn’t want to take a day because of my upcoming medical.

She understood.

After today, I can no longer honestly tell the doctor that I haven’t missed work due to my condition.  And HONESTY is important to me.  I won’t lie about my health just to keep my job.

So, to me, this feels like a big step backward.  And I’m struggling to be okay with it.  Even though I know on some level that missing ONE day isn’t going to make a difference.

I’ve talked before about being flexible and keeping goals fluid in response to changeable health. (Learn more about my need for flexible goals).  And I still stand by that.

This feels different.

I know that given time, I will work through this, and I will come to accept that maybe I’ve set my career goals too high.  Perhaps this is the universe giving me the message that full-time is in fact not the right choice for me.  Or maybe, I just need a sick day.

I am, however, a self-described, overachieving PERFECTIONIST. So, not being able to have it all is a lesson I have to learn over and over again.  One could even argue that my EVER-PRESENT PAIN is a symptom of that lesson.

So what am I trying to say today?

While it’s important to be flexible when you have a condition such as chronic pain, it’s PERFECTLY okay to struggle against that reality.  You can’t do all the things that you used to, and you have to just let some things go.  But you can’t just completely quit the fight – that would be giving up.

Giving up isn’t healthy.

I believe that it’s important to fight for the things that are truly important to me – and only I can know what is IMPORTANT to me – otherwise, I risk losing myself to my condition.

And I am NOT my condition – I am NOT my PAIN.

I have limited energy though, so I must let go of the things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of my life, like an individual running race, (Learn about wrestling with these types of decisions) so that I can focus on the things that matter to me, like my family and perhaps my job.

So, I’m going to use the internal conflict, that today’s decision to call in sick has created, to help me decide whether or not my career aspirations are in line with my life plan.

And maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon, I will assimilate today’s decision into my reality, and I won’t even remember why it was a conflict, as I’ll be one step closer to knowing what I want.

I know that sounds really simple.  It isn’t.  It’s a struggle within a struggle, really.  But, I believe that if I try to keep that basic principle in mind, I have a direction to move towards, and I won’t become stagnant.

CHRONIC PAIN - Calling in sick

Because if there is one thing that I fear more than the pain, it’s becoming stagnant.

Take care of yourself,





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