04 Mar Some Truths About Being In Pain
What is it like to deal with chronic pain from a personal perspective? In this blog, I am exploring the psychological aspects of pain from various angles in ways that hopefully inform patients how others perceive their experiences but also to have friends and loved ones learn about what someone in pain is going through.
Certainly, we all know about pain. We know what it is like to hit our thumbs with a hammer, to scrape a knee when falling from a bicycle or to bump our heads on something that doesn’t move. We know what bellyaches feel like. We know what headaches feel like.
Chronic pain, however, is not the same. Chronic pain is like pain rising to a professional level. Day to day pain is like the Little Leagues, while chronic pain is like the Major Leagues. This isn’t because the pain is always worse. It’s because there is an entirely different mental experience between knowing the pain of a bee sting is going to go away in five or 10 minutes and knowing the pain of that bee sting may never go away … or may recede and return unpredictably for the rest of your life.
Here are a few truths about chronic pain that seem self-explanatory. Sometimes, however, these truths get overlooked.
- Everyone is affected
When two people have a fight, everyone in the room or in the family is affected, whether they want to admit it or not. Everyone feels the tension. Everyone feels threatened in some way.
The same thing occurs with chronic pain. In some ways, chronic pain is like the white elephant hiding in the living room. Everyone knows it is there and everyone is affected – even if they pretend they are not or even if they sometimes need to move on and think of something else for a while.
Needless to say, those closest to you will be the most affected. Your spouse, your children, your parents. They will all need to process their emotional reactions to your plight. Some may do that gracefully; some may not. But everyone is affected.
- You did not ask for this
It seems obvious that nobody asks for pain – let alone chronic pain. But sometimes people add two and two and come up with five as the answer.
For example, someone in pain may not be able to do chores around the house as fast or as often as others. That same person might need considerations based on noise or the speed in which they can get in and out of the car. Pretty soon, someone believes the person in pain is getting preferential treatment. Well, that may be so – but they would certainly trade the pain for not being handled with kid gloves. They didn’t ask for this.
- Age has nothing to do with it
When someone young is in pain, you often hear others say, “Oh, just deal with it,” as if the pain was one of life’s learning experiences that everyone goes through. These people live with the adage, “no pain, no gain,” thinking the pain, in some way, is good for you in the long run. It will toughen you up.
Unfortunately, whether it toughens you up or not, pain is not a necessity of your formative years or a natural fact of growing old. Some elderly people don’t have pain follow them around each day. There is no allowance for feeling constant pain when you are young. Pain is pain. Young people in pain are not just whining. Older adults in pain are not just bearing up. Even if they react differently, pain is pain. Others should not temper their reaction to you based on your age.
- Smiling, laughing through the pain
If someone suffering from chronic pain is smiling, laughing, carrying on a pleasant conversation, that doesn’t necessarily mean the pain has gone away. Imagine having a headache. Sometimes, despite the headache, you talk to others, walk around, watch television, go shopping.
Don’t assume someone’s pain has gone away when they are not visibly or audibly expressing that pain. Even people in pain try to smile, laugh, and be sociable.
The experts at Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center in San Diego can help you devise a long-term strategy for pain mitigation. Call 858-404-5944 for help as soon as possible.