6 Things about Chronic Pain You Didn’t Know You Knew

Chronic pain isn’t just constant pain, though that would be more than enough for anyone to handle, the truth is chronic pain always brings friends. These added challenges are obvious, but rarely taken into consideration by “healthy” people.  Remembering that like all bullies chronic pain travels with a gang can help to better understand the life of someone in chronic pain.

Pain is exhausting.  We have all had a bad headache, a twisted knee, or a pulled muscle, and by the end of the day it is a monumental effort just to read the mail.  You may not have consciously realized it, but the pain that has relentlessly nagged you through out the day has drained you as bad as any flu.  Even when you try to ignore pain it will stay in the back of your mind, screaming for attention, draining away all of your energy. With chronic pain this is amplified because it isn’t just one day, it is months or even years of struggling to live with this very demanding monkey on your back.  I’m tired just thinking about it.

It just sort of snuck up on me.

It just sort of snuck up on me.

Pain causes poor sleep.  You would think that after a long day of fighting with constant pain sleep would be a great reprieve.  Unfortunately, this is just a dream (pun intended).  First chronic pain can make it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep.  The pain will pull you right out of deep sleep.  Many pain patients take medications to sleep, because sleep is vital to your health, chronic pain, or no.  Even when you do sleep, the pain signals continue to your brain and can cause sleep to be broken, restless, and oddly enough, exhausting.

can'tsleep

Pain makes you cranky.  Chronic pain sufferers aren’t (all) just cranky buggers by nature.  Pain drains you physically and mentally.  When you are in pain even the simplest things feel overwhelming and people tend to react accordingly.  You may have only asked your chronic pain spouse if they would like to go to a movie, but in their head they have considered if they can sit still that long, how much medication it would require, if they have the energy, if they will stay awake through the movie, how high their pain is now and how it might increase, if they go will it make getting through tomorrow harder, and most importantly, given all this, will it be any fun.  They didn’t grouch at you for the fun of it, pain just makes it very hard to remember that everyone else is coming from a totally different perspective, where a movie is just, well, a movie.

I'm NOT CRANKY!

I’m NOT CRANKY!

Pain kills your concentration. Most chronic pain patients fight like crazy to live a normal life.  They try to ignore the pain and go about their days, but it’s just not that easy.  Even when you ignore pain, push it to the back of your brain and focus on, say, work, pain doesn’t give up.  You can sit at your desk, working on your computer, trying to concentrate, while your pain plays the part of a toddler desperate for your attention.  Pain will poke you, tug at your clothes, spill juice on your keyboard, scream your name and try to use your arm and leg as practice for the uneven bars.  No matter how hard you try to tune it out, part of your brain is always processing the pain and it often pulls your concentration to terrifyingly low levels.

payattentiontome

Pain damages your self esteem.  The pain has made you tired, cranky, and killed your concentration.  Being exhausted all the time makes everything more of a challenge than it should be, your quick temper has strained or destroyed once strong interpersonal relationships, and your inability to concentrate has hurt your job performance.  You can’t do what you want to do with your time even when you try and it seems like everyone is mad or unhappy with you no matter your efforts.  Life as you know it is crumbling and all because of …you?  Most pain sufferers blame themselves for these failings, remembering that they used to be able to do everything.  They see chronic pain as a sign of weakness or a personal defect that they should be able to overcome.  The end result is that on top of everything else chronic pain damages your self esteem.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Pain causes isolation.  When you’re in constant pain the last thing you want to do is attend the company party, the neighbor’s backyard barbecue, or even small gatherings with your closest friends and family.  Your friends and family are still the light of your life, but the physical and mental energy it requires to go out and be social can be just too much to handle.  You start to bow out of parties and cancel plans, not because you don’t want to go, but because you just can’t.  Eventually people stop inviting you, calls to make plans decline, and the scary thing is you don’t mind.  The pain has slowly, but surely, isolated you.

Take three, they are small.

Take three, they are small.

What about you?  What are some effects of pain that seem obvious, but aren’t?

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About leitis23

I'm an adventure, living life to the fullest, and doing stupid things enthusiast, whose life took a serious left turn into chronic invisible illness. My saga of adventures in the world and in medicine never fail to keep life interesting.
This entry was posted in Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, health, Medicine, pain management and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

529 Responses to 6 Things about Chronic Pain You Didn’t Know You Knew

  1. Kay Bailey says:

    My husband has had two
    Failed back surgeries and still no relief…His days
    Are hell from the time he stands on his feet and proceeds painstakingly to his chair with no relief throughout the day to the time he makes the long journey back to his bed, and when he gets flat on his back he lies painless until the next morning when he repeats the agony once again day after day after day ….

  2. Ed says:

    Yep yep yep no understanding with people try having a migraine every day of your life most people sleep all day or call in work sick but not chronic pain suffers were expected to go insane then people might understand . Chronic pain is a balancing act for me I’m happy when I get four hours of sleep at night having to drug myself to the point of passing out starts to take it toll on me but I feel much better the next day after sleep again chronic pain suffers have to sleep spending all day dealing with pain . Good article hits a nerve

    • Frank Atkinson says:

      so true

      • PJ says:

        Would be nice to have a pen pal who suffers daily migraines and/or a multitude of autoimmune diseases that can relate. Some days I just want to scream at people and give up. Anyone interested?

  3. Great article, I feel/live through all of these issues daily 🙉
    I really feel like I’m constantly fighting with the pain related issues of who I am now, and who I was, and of course want to be.. chronic illness and pain daily is such a life ruiner for me everything I wanted and was has just been slowly picked off until I’m left with no identity of anything anymore other than being chronically ill.. at 27 this shouldn’t be my life since 15 years old but it is. Illness rob’s you of everything you wanted or want to do. You constantly have to think everything through before doing it, just as you stated in the movie analogy, that is so my life struggle.. we fight so hard to feel happy or normal even for just a little while 🙈 ..however much it costs us later.. ///always paying the piper lol

    Hugs 💜

  4. Pingback: 6 Things about Chronic Pain You Didn’t Know You Knew – Chronically Something

  5. Padster says:

    I have osteoporosis (DEXA score minus 3 with a 26% fracture risk). I didn’t really notice it at first, but after three Reclast infusions it has got progressively worse, to the point that I now take painkillers pretty much every day. I can’t play my music for more than 45 minutes without getting severe pain in the back and ribs, and as a result I am contemplating selling my instruments. I know that the pain is only going to get worse as time passes, and it thoroughly depresses me. Suicide is becoming a serious option, and I have already chosen a modus operandi should I ever decide to go through with it. I am rather a sad case. On top of osteoporosis, I have Addison’s disease, a kidney transplant, hypopituitarism, growth hormone deficiency and am infertile. This life holds nothing for me. It is a pit of misery.

    • John Martin says:

      @Padster
      I’m sorry to read your post and can without a doubt relate to how you’re feeling due to years of pain and disability from illness, car accidents and operations (with all their residual effects).
      Feeling like you would rather not exist is normal in your situation but you are alive for a reason, even if that reason is a mystery to you right now.
      I don’t want to come across as a “bible thumper” as I am not a fundamentalist Christian. I do however believe that what Christ taught and the example He gave us is the highest ideal we can strive to achieve but am aware that others do not agree.
      That said, I did not bring myself into being and I don’t believe I have the right to take myself out. If I really, truly believed (without a trace of doubt) that there was nothing after this life and I was not answerable to anything or anyone, I would have checked out long ago.
      Life may not seem fair from our perspective but we have a limited perspective and do not know what is being accomplished and/or remedied by our suffering (or anyone else’s for that matter).
      We often complain that life is not fair and on the surface that appears to be an unassailable truth. My reason for faith in Christ is that His words are the only ones that ring true to me. Trying to live as He asked us to makes living under painful circumstances possible. It can give redemptive meaning and purpose to not only my own suffering, but to all the unjust suffering that has been experienced by everyone throughout history.
      When we suffer and offer it to Christ to unite with HIs own saving act, I believe we somehow mysteriously take part in His redemptive action. When we give up and/or refuse to accept the hard things life brings our way we could be short circuiting an eternal destiny beyond our comprehension. “Hope against hope” ie I hope when there appears to be no reason to hope.
      Take care of yourself and please don’t give up 😉

      • Padster says:

        Who is to say the afterlife isn’t just another cycle of learning through pain? Who is to say we don’t just come back here to do it all over again? Until you really wake up, you will never understand the utter senselessness of our lives. We are not free, we are in a prison. I used to believe the suffering Christ spiel but I don’t buy it any more. You don’t agree, but then you are not living in my shoes. The cycles of suffering some people have to endure are so great that they begin to affect the mind and one’s outlook on life. Once physical suffering becomes mental suffering, you are effectively finished as a functioning human being, for mental suffering is far worse than anything physical. There’s no eternal destiny. I just don’t see it anymore. I believe all matter is evil, and I believe this world was created with evil intent. Every living thing on this planet suffers because of it.

        Don’t you realise that this Earth is a prison? Don’t you understand that the God of the Old Testament is pure evil? Ever wondered why no-one is allowed to see His face? Ever wondered why he lied in Genesis and the serpent told the truth?

        Best wishes,
        Padster

  6. John Martin says:

    How old are you Padster? You make a lot of assumptions about someone you’ve never met who just wanted to reach out to a stranger who expressed they were in pain (ie you).

    If my post is of no help, I’m sorry, but I believe what I believe and am grateful for my Faith.

    So you’re just a little bit aware of the the situation in which I live; I’m over 60 years of age and have had chronic pain since I was eighteen, which is when degenerative disc disease first set in. I have over six feet of scars on my body from various accidents and operations; more than one of which came very close to taking my life, causing lasting damage and pain. Due to this damage, I have been on disability for decades. No car, no house, no job, no wife etc.

    I doubt you’d believe some of the things I could tell you about the life I’ve lived but that really doesn’t matter. You seem to think no one could possibly suffer like you. It seems because you can’t find any answers then no one else can and that what they have come to perceive through their life experience is mistaken or fantasy..how’s that workin’ for you?

    As for me having ever wondered about things…I’ve been doing it for over half a century and doubt I’ll ever have all the answers. I have enough to be somewhat at peace, at least until it’s time for all to be revealed (likely when I die, if the world is still spinning).

    I take it a day at a time because that’s how life comes.

    As far as the “Old Testament God” goes, there’s only one God. If you object to the violence in the OT then it would seem you haven’t read or taken into account what a violent, lawless world existed at the time. Much of the violence in the OT was a measured response to even more horrific acts of violence being perpetrated at the time. Some of the members of the human race seem to evolve over time and hopefully bring others with them. Anyway, it’s much too complex to get into here.

    God is the author of creation and has simply asked that truth of this fact be acknowledged, before granting further gifts and privilege. The consequences of not acknowledging God’s dominion over His creation are readily apparent in the world we live in. We cannot see God’s Face because God is a Spirit. God united His Being to humanity in Christ in order that we might “see His Face” and join in His Life. In part on this earth but completely once we are perfectly transformed.

    Lastly, I think it’s It’s a bit strange to come on to a forum to vent your misery and then turn on someone who responded to your obvious cry for help in the best way they knew how. I’m sorry I don’t have a million dollars for you to buy your happiness but I pray you receive the help you obviously need.

    God is Love: I’m sorry your “insights” tell you otherwise.

    Good luck; as it appears you need it.

    • Padster says:

      John,
      You are very much stuck in a material worldview in which it is thought money can buy happiness. Circumstances have pushed me beyond such a worldview, and if you indeed could give me a million pounds it wouldn’t make a scrap of difference. For it is merely what British prisoners call ‘snout’: something to relieve one’s incarceration and loss of liberty for a short while. We are both spirits and we do not need salvation from our sins. Instead, we need to be liberated from the dungeon of matter we are imprisoned in, and, no one can do it for us except ourselves. 46 years of unremitting suffering has taught me that. Christ is not going to save me from the pits of depression and despair: either I save myself or I spiral into the abyss of mental illness.

      God is indeed the author of creation, as you stated. But this creator-God is not the God of Love which you mentioned. They are two separate deities. The true God, the God of Love, issues no orders or demands. The Old Testament God however issues lots of orders and demands, tells lies to Adam and Eve, and is very insecure. This God imprisons spirits in matter so that his world can evolve (you seem to agree with this.) But these spirits are extremely unhappy, and that is why we are seeing global unrest and a burgeoning mental illness epidemic. This will continue to get worse as more and more people realise just how enslaved they are, and what little freedom they really have. If God is a spirit, then he must be a malevolent one, for no pure and loving spirit would want to dirty its hands creating such a dog-eat-dog ‘kill and eat or die’ system in which consumption is the order of the day. But then God goes even further and cruelly and diabolically puts the blame on his creatures for this sad state of affairs. The apparent ‘consequences of not acknowledging God’s dominion over His creatures’ is a direct result of this ‘survival of the fittest’ system. We emptied the oceans of 50% of all marine life precisely because we were the strongest and the fittest, and the fish were weaker than us.

      I urge you to read the Bible again, because by its own standards you do not have the luxury of dropping the inconvenient baggage of the OT. Luke chapter 16 verse 17 states that: “it is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void”. Jesus is very much reinforcing all the old laws, including the ones about slavery (which explains why he made no mention of slavery being wrong when healing a man’s slave). These laws helped embolden slave-owners and planters on Barbados and the like. And the worst slave transporters were often from Christian countries.

      Best wishes,
      Padster

      • John Martin says:

        Padster,

        Sorry you took me so seriously re the money comment as I’m fully aware money does not buy true happiness.
        I suppose my “million dollar” comment was an off-hand way of saying I wish there was something I could help you with, but you leave very little room for anyone to offer anything with your utterly pessimistic attitude.You didn’t mention your age but you sure seem sure of yourseIf and your own take on reality! (BTW your ideas are far from new as they somewhat reflect the centuries old Manichean heresy.)

        I have no interest in gnostic interpretations of the Bible but my world view is far from materialistic. I believe a large part of your problem is that you “lean too much on your own understanding” and fail to even attempt to see anything from an eternal perspective.

        Lastly, your understanding of Jesus’ words is incredibly narrow and in the case of His “jot and tittle” statement, far too literal (but to each his own, so again, good luck).

        I guess all you have left is life’s a bitch and then you die!
        Bye

      • Padster says:

        John,
        I am very sorry for the comments I have made and I ask for your forgiveness. You are absolutely correct, I lean on my understanding far too much, and I now recognize the errors in my thinking and in Gnosticism.

        Alongside my physical health problems, I have been suffering a great deal of mental and spiritual pain recently. Pain so intense that it makes one want to die. The Devil knows I am fully aware of God’s existence, for God is as real to me as members of my own family. So the Devil has been twisting things round to make God appear evil. He has introduced Pagan gods into my experiences and sown confusion with other religions in an effort to smash my Christian faith to pieces. I now know that Justin Martyr was correct: the Devil ‘pre-copied’ these other gods to discredit Jesus Christ.

        But these other religions never rang true to me, and I found reincarnation thoroughly repulsive as a concept. As my Christian faith started to wither, I began losing my identity and security. I also lost the ‘homeliness’ and inner warmth I used to feel. I used to associate these feelings with home and family, but now I realise that they came from my Christian faith.

        Last night was horrendous. I had never felt pain like it. The mental and spiritual pain was so intense that it was manifesting as physical pain. [Warning: what I am about to say might seem odd]. But then the invisible being who is always with me wrapped me in its arms and its warm energy melted away the pain. Then I heard the words: “My sheep know my voice”.

        That single event is responsible for my change of heart and for my apology to you. I am sorry if I might seem a bit odd to you that I should suddenly change like that, but it is God’s kindly influence upon me which has brought it about.

        Best wishes,
        Padster

  7. John Martin says:

    Padster,
    I’m assuming you’re sincere so appreciate your apology; as much for you as for myself as it indicates a degree of awareness and openness not shown in previous comments.

    Your statements and experience does not seem odd (to me at any rate). I live alone and spend the vast majority of my time alone, so can appreciate your comment about God being as real as family.
    He is reality itself and without occasional consolation from the Holy Spirit and a strong, abiding gift of Faith in Christ, I would be unable to bear what life sometimes brings.

    I hope the experience you describe stays with you and that you can remain with a Faith you appear to have had previously, but lost temporarily due to the difficult trials you have been subjected to.

    You seem to have turned a page in your life; I truly hope that you have and that your perseverance through the pain helps you to heal and grow. I wish I had more to offer than words but have prayed for you that Our Lord would help you in dealing with your pain and the resulting confusion and depression. Life CAN be very, very difficult and unbearably painful at times but all things do ultimately pass, even if they sometimes feel as if they will not.
    I don’t make a habit of “Bible thumping” but thought these short verses might express my feelings/hopes for you better than my own words could….

    Romans 5:3-4
    And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

    James 1:12
    Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

    And in Jesus’ words:
    Matthew 24: 10-13
    10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

    Peace

    • U guys seriously need to grow up /stop arguing somewhere where no one else wants to see it but u.. if either of u were mature as your ages state, you would have agreed to disagree! Move on dude

  8. tracie says:

    I have a progressive, crippling disease, called Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) so add to this seriously damaged or dead peripheral nerves, Dysplasia in hips (right replaced).
    I have also scoliosis, hearing loss, severe weakness, loss of grip in hands, cramping, neck, back pain and my shoulders are going.
    My condition will only get worse and I get to be treated like an addict because I require medications I don’t like but because of people who abuse medications all of us are put through humiliation. No, people don’t get it.

  9. John Martin says:

    “No, people don’t get it”
    I think all of us who suffer chronic pain agree that most people, even many otherwise good doctors, often don’t get it.

  10. Michael d goulet says:

    This is so true doctors don t get it

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