Two of the scariest things that come with chronic pain are guilt and a fear that people will no longer need us or rely on us to help them. During the worst years of my chronic pain I was filled with a never ending amount of guilt. My dad was my main caregiver. After each appointment, medication, surgery or treatment I endured I felt awful to have to tell him yet again that something did not work. Not only was I furious and depressed something did not work I had to go to my dad and say: “It didn’t work dad.” Often times my dad got the backlash of something not working because I was so angry at my pain that I took it out on him through tears and bouts of depression/anger. He was also the person paying for my appointments, medications, and surgeries. I was putting our family into debt because of chronic pain and I hated myself for it. Later in life I was forced to declare medical bankruptcy because the medical bills were more than anyone could pay in their lifetime. I am no Kardashian or a House Wife of Beverly Hills. It is very difficult for me to give advice on the subject of guilt as I struggled with it for such a long time. It was not until I made that choice to accept chronic pain and stopped looking for a cure that my guilt went away. It was not until I took control of my chronic pain and no longer let it control me that I loved myself. Guilt is an awful part of living with chronic pain, however it is a very normal (yea, I’m sure that line helps!) Man chronic pain sucks. Sometimes in the middle of my posts I think back to the times I am writing and I still cannot believe I am here in this world managing it naturally and living a happy life. Thinking back to these years and knowing most of my readers are there right now makes me want to hug each and every one of you.
What I do know is that the people that love you believe you and want to help you. No one asks for chronic pain just like no one asks for Cancer. Being a person with chronic pain and also a caregiver now I know that each side sucks but I cannot think of anything worse than being the prisoner of chronic pain. You just have to try your hardest to let that guilt go! If people understand (which is nearly impossible) what you are going through show them my blog. Chronic pain is so difficult for people to grasp because most people with chronic pain look okay on the outside, which can be really freaking annoying. I get it!
Someone who writes me regular brought up the topic of helping others. The loved ones of chronic pain may not lean on you because they do not believe you can handle it. However, the gratification that people (especially with chronic pain) get from helping others is huge and one of the greatest distractions. The greatest experience I had at the Mayo clinic was being surrounded by others who were going through what I was going through. I suddenly was no longer alone. The second time I went into the Pain Rehab Center I was already an aerobics instructor and social worker and was able to apply my knowledge to other people in my group. I was in Minnesota, by myself spending nine hours a day with fifteen other people who also had chronic pain. There was one woman in my group who was deaf. We gravitated to one another for some reason. On the weekends when we did not have group I started learning sign language and soon we found a way to communicate with one another. On one Saturday she had her hotel manager contact me as she was in need of help. I walked over to her hotel and took her to the hospital. I was her translator (even though I really had no clue what I was doing) and we got through the day at the hospital and I took her back to her hotel. That day sticks out in my mind so well. It was the first day in a long time I did not solely focus on my pain. It was the first day in a long time I was able to call my dad because I was happy and proud of myself. This woman and I stayed friends via email/letters for a long time. I still think of her from time to time. The Mayo Clinic was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Yes, all the lessons I learned I utilize and their philosophy of learning to live with pain naturally has changed my life. But, the greatest moments I had at the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehab Center were the times I was helping the people around me. This has to mean something.
Let your loved ones know that you are able to help them and that you want to. It will help both parties. This post was inspired by Sam and I thank you so much for all the ideas and allowing me to help you.