Two years ago, my life completely changed. I don’t know why, or how; I just know that one moment I was not in pain, and the next moment I was. A pain that has stayed with me ever since.
I know it’s cliche to say that you don’t understand someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Oftentimes I think it’s used as an excuse- and maybe I even thought it was when it came to people who claimed to live with chronic pain before that day came for me- but now I know that it is absolutely true. And I also know what it’s like to be a person with a pain that many people don’t take seriously. Some don’t even think it exists.
A life with chronic pain is real, and it is HARD. Maybe we know why it happened, an injury, a fall, an accident- and maybe we don’t, either way- it doesn’t make the pain go away.
Maybe we look like “normal” people, maybe to you we don’t look like we are in pain- but that’s because after so long feeling this pain and letting it tear us down bit by bit, we had to pick ourselves up and push through it. For the first year I was in constant pain, I cried. Every day I cried. Every day I sobbed because I didn’t know what to do, or how to make it stop. Every day I wondered why this happened to me and wondered if it would ever end. I hoped and wished for the day I would wake up and feel like “me” again. It never happened. That was my defining moment. And it is my defining moment every day. Every minute- because I, because we, at some point have to make a decision within ourselves not to let the pain put the brakes on our life; not to let it OWN us.
We get treated like seekers by the medical community. Some think we’re making it up if they fail to find a cause, a reason, a result on a test- as if that is our fault. We get treated like fakers if we don’t sit around and cry about it. We deal with multitudes of well-meaning people giving all kinds of medical advice that for the most part, we can’t use. Most days we feel like we just can’t win.
I don’t want the drugs. I don’t want attention or special treatment or pity. I want to be just like everyone else- but more importantly, to FEEL like everyone else.
I don’t want to have to tell my children no when they ask me to play with them in ways I am unable to because it causes me too much pain. I don’t want to have to take breaks and sit down. I don’t want to have to get up and walk around. I don’t want to have to stretch, or go to doctors, or to get out of the house only to want to go home because I just can’t take it. No one should have to live this way, but we do- and most of us do so silently.
Many pains, illnesses, issues- all have causes, people standing behind them- shouting for acceptance and understanding- and rightfully so. Chronic pain sufferers don’t have any of that. Partly because we are so varied in what caused it, partly because people simply think we’re full of shit, and partly because we don’t need it. All we want is the understanding that our pain is real. Well, of course we want the pain to STOP- but most of us have accepted the possibility that it might never.
All we want, is when someone tells you they suffer from chronic pain- it’s not a booboo. It’s not an easy thing to live with. This isn’t a bump or a bruise, and we are not weak or whiny- this is a long-term, severe, and debilitating pain.
Just because someone might look like they aren’t suffering, does not mean they aren’t- and doesn’t mean you should question it.
I may live my life IN pain, but I do not live my life FOR pain; and we who live in it, don’t live WITH chronic pain, no. That would suggest we cohabit with this menace willingly; we live in SPITE of it, because it will not hold us down.
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