One of the hardest struggles with chronic pain is being surrounded by people who have no idea what chronic pain means and what you are actually feeling. It is the loneliest feeling in the world. I cannot even count the number of times I used to say: “I’m fine” to people when I honestly felt like I was dying inside. I’m fine was such an easier response then: “I am in so much pain and no doctor or surgery or medication can help me. I am alive but no longer living and I think about dying every second of every day.” Saying “I’m fine” was a much quicker response with a lot less questions.

People no longer ask me if I am okay regarding chronic pain and I am very thankful for that. After I learned to manage chronic pain naturally and was learning to not focus on pain I had to come up with a way to tell my loved ones and friends to not ask me how I was doing. That was one of my biggest fears leaving the Mayo Clinic. I was afraid that everyone would think that I was somehow magically “cured” of chronic pain and could do anything and everything everyone else did. This was the furthest thing from the truth and I was actually about to do the hardest thing in my life: enter the world with chronic pain and manage it naturally. At the Mayo Clinic I was surrounded by others who had chronic pain and understood my struggles and life. Returning home I knew I would be on my own in my new natural journey with chronic pain. I ended up writing an email or letter to my closest friends and family explaining that I still had chronic pain but was learning how to manage it naturally and was working on not thinking about the pain and therefor did not want to talk about pain. I learned to say: “I am having a difficult day” when was really struggling with pain so as not to have to use the word pain. My loved ones still did not understand but how could they? I can empathize with people dealing with cancer but cannot possibly understand what they are going through. This drove me insane for such a long time but as I grew stronger and stronger it no longer bothered me. Once in a blue moon it does bother me when my loved ones complain of a headache because I want to scream: “I had brain surgery! I have a headache every second of every day and it never does away! Deal with it!” However, I have to shut my mouth. I am great with helping people as long as it does not have to do with pain in their heads or faces.

If you have a loved one who has chronic pain please know that when they say: “I’m fine” it does not always mean that he or she is fine. Being a caregiver or loving someone who has chronic pain can be extremely difficult. I do not have all the answers on how to help your loved one with chronic pain. The best thing you can do is love them and just let them know you are there if they need help. The best words you can say to someone with chronic pain is :” I believe you. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be in pain all the time but I am here for you.”

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“I’m fine” Spoken like a true Spoonie

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3 thoughts on ““I’m fine” Spoken like a true Spoonie

  1. The subject of empathy comes up a lot around here. My husband gets a migraine once every few months. I have chronic migraines and cluster headaches. I get frustrated at being the reason we have to cancel things so often, the once a year when we have to cancel something because he doesn’t feel good he throws a fit that it’s “all his fault”. That reminds me of a post I did a while back regarding a study that showed that those of us with Fibro are less empathetic (which I think is probably true – anything short of cancer and I’m going to have a hard time feeling sorry for you). http://fibrokitty.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-fibromyalgia-suffers-may-be-less.html

    And then there’s “I’m fine”. Part of me wants to be honest, the other part just doesn’t want to focus on it. Someone asks how I’m doing and it’s a struggle to know how to respond… which thing are they referring to? So many factors.

  2. vomsters says:

    Now that I think back, there WAS a period of time when I was much younger when a “How are you?” would get a full and frank description of what was hurting and how much, until someone explained that people really don’t expect you to actually tell them the truth in answer to that question. So I started saying “Fine” or “Pretty good” etc.

    Then I decided that was just lying anyway and I switched to “Not too bad today.” or “Surviving.” or “You really don’t want to know.” I decided that if people are going to ask me a question they don’t really care about the answer to instead of saying “Hello.” I wasn’t going to lie for their benefit, I’d give them the answer they deserve – so sometimes people get the “Fine” just not as often as before.

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