Support for Chronic Pain

An Interview with an Inspiring Person With Chronic Pain

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“It doesn’t get easier.  You get stronger.”

I have an amazing reader Lauren who emails me frequently and was kind and brave enough to allow me to ask her questions regarding chronic pain and how it has impacted her life.  I am going to share with you the questions along with her answers and then I will share with you the same questions and how I would have answered them at her age: note to readers I am now thirty-four and my answers are one hundred percent different.

  1. When/how old were you when you first realized you had chronic pain?
Answer: I spent my childhood in pain unaware that normal people were not in pain, so I don’t actually remember a time in my life that I was not in pain.  However, it was not until I was fifteen that my physical therapist defined chronic pain that I actually began describing it as such.
2. How has chronic pain affected you life, family, friends, dreams, school, hobbies and what for you has been impacted negatively the most?
Answer: Initially, nobody believed me when I said I was in pain; consequentially I stopped trusting family and friends.  It took year for people, including doctors to believe I was in pain as I was “just a child”  so I obviously did not know what pain was. Friendships have been lost because of chronic pain and I still have a hard time opening up to family because of how much hurt their words and actions have inflicted.  Because I care for people and feel a strong connection to others, the strain chronic pain/invisible illness places on relationships is probably the hardest thing for me to deal with.  My chronic pain is actually the reason I chose the college I attend.  I tricked myself into believing that nobody knew me as the ‘injured girl’ that I could re-invent myself and find who I was without pain.  I know it sounds crazy but I was in a bad place and believed the pain didn’t exist and would magically disappear.  I wound up discovering it is practically impossible to hide limping, constantly needing ice packs, and being unable to walk some days. and having migraines.  Chronic pain may take away my dream of being a physical therapist one day because my body cannot handle the demands of the profession.  Along with this I am too stubborn to stop playing lacrosse at my college despite the fact that it only exaggerates the pain.
3.  Has chronic pain caused depression, anxiety, or insomnia?
Answer: Yes to all of these.  Being stuck in bed after surgeries or simply being unable to participate in various things caused a feeling of loneliness and isolation.   Those feelings eventually led to depression as I felt like a burden that no one wanted to be around because I was too broken.  Having to use crutches or wheel chairs in crowded places and getting trampled as a result has caused me anxiety in crowded places and places where there is not an easy way out.  There is also anxiety of the pain worsening or flaring up at any time without a cause. The insomnia is a direct result of being unable to sleep because the pain is too much. It wakes me up several times a night and I do not remember the last time I made it through the night without waking up sporadically.
4. What helps you the most manage chronic pain?
Answer: Actually listening to my body when it tells me to slow down, take a rest, or a nap.  I have a tendency to ignore what my body is asking of me because I do not want to give into the pain, but I would be much better off if I actually took breaks during the day.  Unfortunately, I am stubborn and believe I can handle way more than I actually can.
5.  Do you have a support system?
Answer: I have tried to handle it for the  most part, but in the past two years I’ve opened up to close friends and do have a support system of people I can rely on.
6. Describe yourself in three words?
Answer: Empathetic, Loving, Stubborn
7.  What is your biggest dream for your life?
Answer: I have always dreamed of helping others as a physical therapist, but it breaks my heart to no longer believe that is a feasible dream. Now I’m just dreaming of helping others with chronic pain: I just don’t know how I’m going to do it yet. *Lauren, you just did!
8.  How did you find this website?
Answer:  I believed I found it as a “suggested blog” and clicked on it because your blog name caught my attention as I have often thought about how rare it is to receive cards or flowers when one has chronic pain.
I do not know about anyone reading this but this young girl is so much stronger than she thinks and she is going to help so many people who have chronic pain although she does not know how yet (no one knows the future) I would bet a lot of money on her being where I am now at the age of thirty-four.  She is very much like myself and many people who have chronic pain except she is way ahead of the pain game than I was at her age.  Lauren, you made my eyes filled up not only because of how much I relate to you but because you cannot see what I see in you yet.  You are an inspiration.
Yay, now I get to show everyone how I would have answered the above questions at Lauren’s age!
1. When or how old were you when you first realized you had chronic pain?
My Answer:  My bike accident happened in the min-nineties, 7th grade.  I started feeling pain slowly but surely months after my physical scars were gone.  No one believed me because chronic pain was not well-known back then and it was not until I entered the Mayo Clinic in 2002 that my neurologist told me I had chronic pain.
2. How has chronic pain affected your friends, family, dreams, school, hobbies and what for you has been impacted the most?
My answer: I have lost everything due to chronic pain.  I have friends but they do not understand the real me and I think just view me as the “fun girl” who is always up for drinking and having a good time.  My dad and my La La ( grandmother) are the only two family members who know about my chronic pain and they are very supportive but the guilt and shame I feel eats me alive.  My dreams of being a mother and teacher have vanished.  I used to love school and my passions regarding teaching and raising a family but there is absolutely no way those dreams will ever come to fruition.  I will die one day because of chronic pain.
3. Has chronic pain caused you depression, anxiety, and/or insomnia.
My answer: “Is there sugar in syrup?” THEN YES: ALL OF THE ABOVE.   I am more depressed, isolated, filled with a sense of loss and anxiety that is too much to bear.  Sleep?  I don’t know what that is.  The fear of pain and awaking the next day with pain keeps me from falling asleep and once I do fall asleep I awake many times because of pain.
4.  What helps you the most manage chronic pain?
My answer:  Sadly, numbing my pain by drinking with friends or being hung over.  It is the only time I can forget about pain and feel ‘normal.’
5.  Do you have a support system?
My true support system is my dad.  He has been there since I fell off my bike to having brain surgery to taking me to the hundreds of doctors and surgeons to fix me and my pain.  He believes me and is always there for me.  I only wish I could be a better daughter and make him proud.
6.  Describe yourself in three words:
My answer: Stubborn, Depressed,  A lost cause
7. What is your biggest dream for your life?
My answer: To be a mother and to help people with pain.  Sadly, all I ever wanted was a family of my own and to have children.   I know now that will never happen and the pain that causes me is too much to even write about. * I am a mother, wife, managing chronic pain naturally, a writer, with a degree in social work.  All my dreams came true and stay tuned for the rest.
8.  How did you hear about my website?
My answer:  What the hell is a website?  *The internet was not a popular thing back then (I sound old!)  I only used a computer to type out papers or write short stores for fun. 
I am not putting myself down by any means, I am just being brutally honest about how/where I was at Lauren’s age and I wanted to show her and all of you how much life with chronic pain can change.  Is this girl not amazing!!!!  Talk about strength and perseverance.  WOW.
This post is dedicated to Lauren:  Lauren,  you are going places.  You do not see nor can your future but your dreams will come true: maybe not in the exact way you want but they will.

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2 thoughts on “An Interview with an Inspiring Person With Chronic Pain

  1. Pingback: Featured Post: An Interview with an Inspiring Person With Chronic Pain | perfectlystitched

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