“But you don’t look in pain?” What some say to people living in chronic pain.
I bet most of my readers will have been told this at least once while they are actually in great pain.
I have many a time wondered why some people have to make say this comment about how you look. I mean why on earth would we say we are in pain if we arent?
Did you know that the National Health Service spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain related costs? In the private healthcare sector, £565 million is spent on back pain every year. Back pain is the number 2 reason for long-term sickness in much of the UK. In manual labour jobs, back pain is the number one reason.
It also does not help if you are suffering from #fibromyalgia pain as for years it was described as general aches and pains or even seen as mainly psychiatric, related to depression and anxiety. The trouble with #fibromyalgia is that as yet no authoritative test has been established.
The British Pain Society says that approximately 8 million adults in the UK report chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling.
So, how are you supposed to look if you are in chronic pain?
The Harvard Medical School call chronic pain the “invisible” disability. Laura Kiesel contributor to The Harvard Medical School writes about her own personal story of her diagnosis of #fibromyalgia and how they said ‘you don’t seem sick’. She was even told by a school nutritionist “You have such shiny, healthy-looking hair,” she explained, pinching a lock of it between her fingers as though I were a doll on display. “People who are really sick don’t have hair like yours.”
Spine Health says that what your friend or family member needs from you is your support and kindness, not condemnation. Statements like “Get over it” or “It can’t be that bad” don’t accomplish anything other than to discourage those with chronic pain. Thankfully, there is an increasing consensus in the medical community that all chronic pain is real, and that it needs to be treated even if there is no known cause.
Pain is deeply personal. Each persons experience of pain is different. For example, two people may have the same condition, and one may display no ill-effects, while the other may be incapacitated.
An article on The National Pain Report website wrote ” If there’s no evidence of some bodily damage or injury, people seem more willing to believe we’re making it up or imagining it. They become suspicious of our motives. To them, our incapacity seems like a built-in excuse to get our way, and this provokes resentment.”
This is so true for the majority of chronic pain sufferers.
So, what’s the answer? Well, Survive Strive Thrive (I am currently covering their Control My Pain Project) have two great images which explain about chronic pain.
They also have a great quote to remember to tell anyone who does not seem to understand what chronic pain is “I won’t tell you I understand your pain because I don’t, nobody does…except you.” Failing that, listen to what Princess In the Tower says how you should respect a person in pain by understanding that we “are merely coping, sounding happy and trying to look normal.”
I think that final statement says it all, failing that this quote is a good one as well “I had learned quickly that life doesn’t always go the way I want it to, and that’s okay. I still plod on.”—Sarah Todd Hammer, Determination