This quote from the wonderful movie Unforgiven completely sums up why chronic pain is so debilitating and heart-wrenching. It doesn’t take just one part of your life — it takes everything. You grieve for the life you once had, and you grieve for the life you could have had. Chronic pain has a compounding effect.
You grieve for your past self. The one who played sports. The one who would go to the gym. The one who went to work. The one who could walk out of the house, carefree, grab a coffee and go on walk or hike. The one who would take their dog for a walk. The one who could go on vacation. The one who could travel on an airplane to see family. The one who would meet up with friends for brunch, for dinner, for drinks — maybe even all three in a day … who knew? The world was your oyster.
All that … gone.
So you think to yourself, due to my current restrictions, what can my present/future self do?
The answers can be excruciating.
You’ll never have kids — you’re physically incapable of birth or raising them. You’re never going to have a dog — you can’t physically take care of one. You’ll never travel again — you physically can’t sit in the airplane seat or get to the airport (no Neuschwantstein Castle or Bavaria). You’ll never be physical with someone again — your body can’t tolerate it (that probably prevents you from ever having a relationship again). You’ll never be able to go to Lambeau Field (insert your team stadium here) and watch your team play in one of the best football venues in the world.
You’ll never wake up a day without debilitating pain.
Also in terms of the future, chronic pain takes away your ability to overcome. The concept that if you work hard enough, find the right doctor, in the future, you will be cured. There is no overcoming a different way of life. No losing a leg to be fit with a prosthetic. No wheelchair bound life. No change in diet that you have to get used to. There is just unrelenting pain that takes away your ability to engage, to leave your house, and to participate in your own life.
The harsh reality is that even if you can wrap your brain around all that you have lost and all that you will never have, you are still left with the pain. The pain is always there.
This is why it is so hard to be a chronic pain patient.
— Blogs, stories and articles like this need to get the word out about what the chronic pain patient really has to endure. We are reduced to whiners, apathetic people who just don’t try hard enough. We are told to buck up. We are told that we are drug addicts. We are told we need to get over ourselves. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our chronic pain, we are hidden from society — there isn’t a face to the disease out and about in the world because we are in beds or on the couch.
*Let’s change that. Let’s be heard. Only then will the medical community and society make our cause their cause.
Until next time.
Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Diego. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at . Her second book THE CHOICE, is available on Kindle at Amazon. Her third book ANGUISH, is available for Kindle at Amazon.com