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Pain Chronicles: Right Now, I Need the Sunflower

Pain Chronicles is a monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way.


When mask wearing became mandatory in July last year, I was mostly still not leaving the house. We’re a high risk family, and I felt the government were too hasty in unlocking everything.

When I did have to pop to the shops, I’d don a reusable mask (trying to combat waste) and more often than not I’d only just finish my shopping before having to run outside to fresh air to stave off a panic attack. Face shields were slightly better, although they did elicit some funny looks, and there was still an issue with allodynia where the sponge rested on my forehead.

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I’m Struggling Through my Latest Lupus Relapse – and That’s Okay to Admit

Today is World Lupus Day, on this day I usually spread awareness and my own story but this year it feels different. After mostly being in remission and only getting the occasional flare for the past six years, my Lupus is relapsing and I’m feeling the affects much worse than I had.

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Disabled Women Are The Sexual Assault Epidemic No One Talks About

TW: Murder of Sarah Everard, sexual assault/harassment concerns, victim blaming. There are links to places to find support at the bottom of this article.

We are told that “statistics are human beings with the tears dried off.” Hearing about mass suffering can generate surprise and concern. But it can also desensitise. When the problem seems too big to contemplate, it can make the most personal crises feel impersonal.

In the three years ending March 2018, disabled women were almost twice as likely to have experienced any form of sexual assault in the last year (5.7%) than non-disabled women (3.0%). There is a degree of apathy that comes with numbers; they feel so far removed; we don’t see the families consumed by grief; men in the last year murdered 118 women.  

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Life and Anxieties as a Deaf Woman in the Wake of Sarah Everard’s Murder

TW: Murder of Sarah Everard, sexual assault/harassment concerns, victim blaming. There are links to places to find support at the bottom of this article.

I jump when my sister walks up behind me in the kitchen, then we watch my Fitbit as my heart rate comes down almost double because of the scare. I don’t know if my parents were scared about me growing up as a deaf young woman. They knew I was fiercely determined and were probably quite afraid to get in my way but I am moderately deaf and don’t hear footsteps, even those of the people I love most, even in the quietest of houses. 

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