People in Pain can be Moody, Depressed or just not themselves
The post I wrote “A Letter To People Without Chronic Pain” spoke just a little bit about my situation as well as a general, well written anonymous letter helping those who do not have Chronic Pain, hopefully understand it a bit better.
Everyone has experienced pain or someone in pain, whether for a few moments, days, weeks or months. When you meet someone in chronic pain, there lifestyle is different, their mood is different, their energy, spunk, attitude, etc…. may all be different. In other words, they are not themselves.
When you meet someone or you are someone in chronic pain, they wish it to go away and have often done all they can to alleviate the pain, so please keep that in mind while you read these 12 tips in dealing with people in pain.
- People with chronic pain seem unreliable (we can’t count on ourselves). When feeling better we promise things (and mean it); when in serious pain, we may not even show up.
- An action or situation may result in pain several hours later, or even the next day. Delayed pain is confusing to people who have never experienced it.
- Pain can inhibit listening and other communication skills. It’s like having someone shouting at you, or trying to talk with a fire alarm going off in the room. The effect of pain on the mind can seem like attention deficit disorder. So you may have to repeat a request, or write things down for a person with chronic pain. Don’t take it personally, or think that they are stupid.
- The senses can overload while in pain. For example, noises that wouldn’t normally bother you, seem too much.
- Patience may seem short. We can’t wait in a long line; can’t wait for a long drawn out conversation.
- Don’t always ask “how are you” unless you are genuinely prepared to listen it just points attention inward.
- Pain can sometimes trigger psychological disabilities (usually very temporary). When in pain, a small task, like hanging out the laundry, can seem like a huge wall, too high to climb over. An hour later the same job may be quite OK. It is sane to be depressed occasionally when you hurt.
- Pain can come on fairly quickly and unexpectedly. Pain sometimes abates after a short rest. Chronic pain people appear to arrive and fade unpredictably to others.
- Knowing where a refuge is, such as a couch, a bed, or comfortable chair, is as important as knowing where a bathroom is. A visit is much more enjoyable if the chronic pain person knows there is a refuge if needed. A person with chronic pain may not want to go anywhere that has no refuge (e.g.no place to sit or lie down).
- Small acts of kindness can seem like huge acts of mercy to a person in pain. Your offer of a pillow or a cup of tea can be a really big thing to a person who is feeling temporarily helpless in the face of encroaching pain.
- Not all pain is easy to locate or describe. Sometimes there is a body-wide feeling of discomfort, with hard to describe pains in the entire back, or in both legs, but not in one particular spot you can point to. Our vocabulary for pain is very limited, compared to the body’s ability to feel varieties of discomfort.
- We may not have a good “reason” for the pain. Medical science is still limited in its understanding of pain. Many people have pain that is not yet classified by doctors as an officially recognized “disease”. That does not reduce the pain, – it only reduces our ability to give it a label, and to have you believe us.
Learning to live with chronic pain, with random episodes, changes your quality of life. I know in my situation I have had people look at me funny when I am seemingly having a conversation with them. IF I ask why the funny face, they may respond with ‘why are you shouting’, ‘why are you being short’, ‘why are you being defensive’, ‘why are you angry’, ‘are you okay, you look depressed’ and on and on.
To have an understanding of what I was doing took a while, I mean after 5 epidurals, my tolerance of pain has gone up. So the stupidest question to me is “what is your pain level?” Compared to what? Being run over, having a broken bone, getting punched in the face to stubbing your toe, getting a splitter, slamming your hand in door….. really?!!
Explicative!!!! Oh FUCK it, If you haven’t experienced this and the toleration growth of pain levels…. don’t ask me, shut the fuck up and look at my gait, my face, my body language…. listen to my speech, my inflection of tone, the grunts or shortness of breath. DUH it’s obvious I am in pain you asshole!
Okay I had to get that out of my system, Really I did, because that is what goes through my head every time now that I am in pain and someone asks “What is your pain level?” Now if you have experienced chronic pain you are either laughing, saying ‘HELL YA’ in some sort of agreement or you are getting depressed as you read this, wondering just how to rise above this depressive state.
Look at any moment I can be in pain, triggered by sitting, lying down, in the shower, doing an activity, walking, stretching…. I just never know. Thats the issue with an L5 and S1 herniation. Even if that has shrunk, which I hope it has, a top level surgeon states that the micro fissures created by the herniation take much longer to heal and may never heal. But they like to leak a chemical that irritates the Hell out of the nerve endings going to my ass and back of my legs.
Without an xray, I can tell you doing sit-ups, jumping jacks, volleyball, running, anything with extension or compression activity of the spine 9 out of 10 times will result in me reaching in to my left pocket for my pain or anti-inflammatory pill.
So if you meet me or you know me, please understand not just this post, but what it’s like to live with Chronic Pain.
Again, I am not whining, but I am in pain as I am writing this, my meds have not kicked in yet!
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