It's amazing how tiring continual pain is. I'm having a rheumatoid arthritis flare, which I'm convinced (despite my doctor's insistence that there's no relationship) is related to the damp, rainy weather.
It started last night - I reached out for something in the car and my hand (my right hand, of course, that being the one I use) went crazy with pain. Oddly enough, it didn't hurt when I used the hand, like to write, or drive, or even pick up heavy objects like full teapots; it hurt when I extended the fingers. This isn't something we do all that much, but once it started to hurt, of course I kept doing it to see if it was still as bad. (Don't ask. Also, people with arthritis learn pretty soon that an unworked joint is an unworkable joint.) Over time it settled into a throbbing ache in my right knuckle, which it's been doing pretty much continuously since, somewhat eased by chemicals. The knuckle is reddish and looks enlarged to me, although my rheumatologist regularly tells me I have no deformation in my hands. It isn't warm or sore to touch as the last flare was.
I didn't sleep very well last night, at least partly because I was waiting to see if my hand still hurt (even though I took Tylenol). The trouble with RA flare pain is that it does slack off from time to time; but when it does, you can't quite believe it, so you sit there wondering when it's going to start again. Today was rainy, damp, and chilly (50's), and I spent most of the day trying to get my hands warm. A cold aching hand is much harder to live with than a merely cold hand. Also, I've been having little spikes of pain in other hand joints, and even in my left hand; just my immune system going crazy, I guess. They last 30 seconds or so, so they're mostly just annoying.
Based on previous experience, I think this is beginning to ease off. I first wrote "chronic pain," but it isn't really chronic; "chronic" is constant. I had "chronic" before my first knee replacement and it was Much Worse than this. RA flares come and go, and in a few days it'll probably be fine again. But after roughly 24 hours of it, I'm a basket case; I'm exhausted. As I think about it, the fact that I went out to lunch with some friends and walked 3 miles in the course of it may have some impact on that; but I should be able to walk 3 miles, in 2 segments, without becoming an amoeba.
I started trying to rate it in terms of the 1-10 "pain scale" Kaiser uses. Except that I can't remember Kaiser's stupid pain scale; they gave me a xerox when I had knee surgery but I threw it out. Their web site says "zero is no pain and 10 is the worst pain imaginable." A little Googling of "pain scale" brings up a number of blog posts from medical personnel who think the pain scale is garbage anyway, not to mention the fact that there are multiple pain scales. I give it a 3-4 (the initial spike was at least a 5, really nasty), whatever that is; I can work past it, but unless I'm doing something really interesting, the pain has some of my attention, and I'm always rubbing it to see if it will get better.
You do what you can, you take the pills, you keep things exercised, and it still does this. There Ain't No Justice.