Tomorrow is my Humira injection. All of this week has been building towards this date. Yet again.

The further I get ‘into’ this ‘disease’, the more time I spend on this medication, the better I become at listening to my body; the more I know how much things follow a pattern.

Today was particularly hard. It is Day 13 of the cycle, possibly the worst day of all my ‘bad days’ on adalimumab. I can usually go without any pain for 9 days on my injections. As soon as we hit the fatal ‘second Saturday’ I feel the energy begin to fade from my body. On a weekend this isn’t too much of a problem; I don’t usually have much strenuous plans and I can go at my own pace. But Days 10 through to 13, life is hell. I have to work. I have to bend and stretch, carry heavy objects, move quickly and spend 8hrs on my feet. That’s what I did today; worked a busy lunch shift, organised the shop, restocked the cafe – basically kept everything moving. Including myself, much to my body’s detest. My back is in shreds. My knees and ankles are throbbing in pain. My neck is hurting from keeping my head up all day.

Because this is what I must do. Even my cheeks hurt today: I spent the entire day smiling at everyone, trying to be okay, regardless of how much my back twinged whilst I worked. Regardless of how much my muscles ached from all the activity. If I had done what I felt like doing – whining in pain, sitting down, drinking tea – nothing would have been done. It would have been chaos. Damn the responsibility of being assistant manager.

Living with a chronic illness is truly tiring. Healthy people don’t seem to understand that. They see me there – looking ‘normal’ and chatty – and they think everything is okay. Well, guess what? Not everything is okay! I have terribly crappy days because my medication does not last the full 14 days it is meant to. I have to come to work because if I don’t, everything ends up in a mess. I have to smile because if I did anything but, I would end up on the floor, sobbing. I’ve spent enough time sobbing and feeling sorry for myself – I did that in a isolated room in hospital plenty of times in the past 6 months – what I need now is to get on with things. I am pushing through the pain because I can’t afford not to. It is what we do, there is no other choice but to smile.

And yes, a smile can hide a hundred things. Mine bloody well does.