by Teresa Shaffer, The Pain Community
Please understand that being in chronic pain doesn’t change who we are. We are still the same person inside this body that we have always been. We still have the same wants, needs and dreams. We still worry about our family, our children, our grandchildren, and paying bills, just like you.
Please understand that being able to stand, walk or ride in the car can be very painful for us at times. It can downright put us in sheer agony at times, but then there are times that we are perfectly fine with all of those things. With chronic pain it is quite possible for us to be able to walk, play, and work outside in the yard one day, while the next day we may have trouble getting out of bed or walking and yes even just sitting or lying down.
Please understand that just because we awoke with low pain levels, that it may not stay that way all day. Our pain levels can and do change in the blink of an eye.
Please understand that just because we did it yesterday or last week or last month…that does not mean we can do it today!
Please understand that getting out and doing things, does not make us feel better nor can it make the pain go away. Telling someone in chronic pain that they just need some fresh air and exercise is not nice and can be very hurtful to that person. If we could do it, we would! We don’t enjoy missing out on a beautiful sunny warm day. We want to play in the yard with the family. We want to go for that hike with friends. We want to go out for a girl’s or guys’ night out. We want our lives back!
Please understand that chronic pain is invisible. There are many health issues that people can see and they would never think of judging that person. Chronic pain is invisible. You cannot touch it and you cannot taste it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. People who live with pain understand that it is hard for friends, family and co-workers to understand what they cannot see, touch or taste. Why is it so hard for people to give us the benefit of the doubt?
Please understand that each day is a struggle to live a normal life. Each day brings hope that we can do the things we want to do, go places that we want to go. When we awake each morning, it is with hope that our pain will be low and we can go about our day as normal as possible, just like everyone else.
Please understand that when we begin our day in agony from the pain, it is downright miserable and depressing. We work really hard at not being miserable. We work really hard to have as normal a life as possible. But, no matter how hard we work at it or how hard we hope for it, the pain is in control of what we can do each day.
Please understand that chronic pain is a part of us. The pain impacts our whole life and it affects our mind, body and spirit. We cannot make it go away and we cannot just forget about the pain. We always have to think about it and how each thing we do can have impact on the pain. We have to make a plan like we are strategizing a war; and it is a war, a war against the pain. A war that will rage on inside us. A war that we can never win, but we keep fighting – because we refuse to give up.
Please understand that living with chronic pain can evoke a range of feelings from fear and anger to hopelessness, confusion and isolation. That is why we need you to try to understand about the pain and how it impacts our lives. We need you to be there for us, to understand that we are trying to live as normal life as possible. We don’t always tell you how bad the pain really is when we are out and about. We hold the pain inside while we smile on the outside because we know it affects any plans you may have for the day that involves us.
This is our life of chronic pain.
We know that you can never truly understand what our lives are like because of the pain. Only those who live their lives in chronic pain can ever truly understand. However, just knowing that you are trying to understand and that you are trying to learn what chronic pain is and how it affects our lives, makes us very happy.
Teresa Shaffer is a board member of The Pain Community (TPC). She is a seasoned patient advocate, a past member of the Pain Care Leadership Council, The West Virginia Pain Initiative and The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Teresa serves as team leader for TPC’s online community and social networking teams as well as a regular blogger for the online community. As a person living with pain for the last 20+ years, she understands the challenges that people with pain need to overcome.