Living with the Chronically Pained, Part 1: There's No Getting Over It
I have chronic pain. It's something I live with but try not to complain about much. As a result, you may not know that I suffer; or if you do know, you may never give this aspect of my life much thought.
You might want to think about this, though: I'm probably not the only Chronically Pained person you know. Recent studies indicate that 100 million Americans currently suffer some form of chronic pain. That's approximately one third of our current population.
Simply put: we're everywhere.
If your life overlaps with someone who is Chronically Pained, there are a few things you may want to take into consideration.
First, the Chronically Pained don't have the luxury of forgetting that they suffer.
Depending on the physical problem causing the pain, it may come and go in waves; there might be better days and worse days--that's true. But it's generally not something to "get over." For the most part, the pain is just there--an ever-present companion.
People who suffer chronic pain know, however, that their friends and family (even when fully loving and supportive) really only want to hear so much about their situation. After that, they mentally "get over" it, even though the situation hasn't actually changed for the Chronically Pained. I'm not saying this is wrong. I'm just saying that it is. People are people, and they have their own problems. Unless the Chronically Pained remind everyone that they're suffering, people are likely to forget. That's just human nature. But if people are reminded all the time, they're going to get tired of hearing about it really fast.
So it just seems best that we keep our issues to ourselves. Except if we do, people expect us to carry on normal lives, and that's not always possible. So it becomes a bit of a balancing act.
Even if the pain is low-level and doesn't totally incapacitate, it still operates as a constant drain on the emotional and physical batteries. I'm not saying that this gives the Chronically Pained an excuse to be vicious cranks--as, indeed, some of them are--but I am encouraging you to have patience and understanding with them, since their situation dictates that they never actually start the day at 100%.
If your Chronically Pained friends seem to have a shorter fuse than the rest of your peers, remember that there could be a reason. Much of their patience and fortitude is already directed toward getting through the day without groaning audibly.
They don't always have much left over in their emotional tanks to put up with nonsense.