Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Pain Awareness Month

This year's National Pain Awareness Month is coming to an end, and yet I'm continually reminded that my pain is not.

It pains me to know that there are so many people in chronic pain; and that they, too, often feel misunderstood. It can be difficult for others to comprehend / believe that anyone could really hurt so much all the time, which is the reality for those that live with a chronic illness. Regardless of the intensity of the pain, when it's unrelenting, it reduces a person's ability to function (concentrate, perform day-to-day tasks, work, socialize, exercise, sleep); and it can lead to depression, isolation, and loss of self-esteem.

While it can be very difficult for others to imagine what it must be like to live with constant pain, it's important for friends and family members of someone in chronic pain to be understanding, and to show support and encouragement. Listen without judgment, and let them know you care. Just because someone with a chronic illness is doing something that seems "normal" doesn't mean that they are suddenly better / cured... it's not all or nothing. It's extremely painful to have loved ones question the validity of your pain or accuse you of being lazy or just wanting drugs / pain meds... sometimes more painful than the physical pain itself.

The caregivers of those in chronic pain also face misunderstanding, isolation, and frustration. I'm so grateful that my husband has taken such a difficult situation and helped make it something to bring us closer together. He takes care of me, cheers me on, etc... all without making me feel guilty for my illness changing the trajectory of his life. He is such a blessing!

My hope is that EVERYONE will try to be more compassionate and understanding with each other. One of the groups of people that desperately needs this is the chronic pain community.
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