It is quite possible for someone to be a very reasonable and a happy individual, up until the point where they have to live with constant on-going pain. There are books written on the subject of personality changes due to illness or medication. The whole thinking process can be altered by even comparatively mild pain if it goes onfor long enough. The patient will eventually tend to concentrate on avoiding pain or reducing movement to avoid pain.
The Human brain can be divided between a “higher” brain and a “lower” brain. The higher brain-activity, reading books, classical concerts, oil paintings is quite distinct from lower brain-activity. Lower brain is typically survival instinct, food, warmth, shelter and danger / threat.
Human beings have both brain areas and from day to day will be in a state moving from the one part to the other almost hour by hour. When subjected to mild pain over an extended period, the patient will tend to exist in the lower brain for more and eventually all of the time. Thus understandably the patient will appear to be selfish, or short tempered, easily angry, maybe complaining a lot. They will also be less inclined to seek out the more joyful experiences. You might say that the “real” person is still there, but it`s just the on-going pressure of the pain that changes them.
The overall effect will make them vulnerable to isolation, maybe even depression. So it is important to recognise the signs and take appropriate action. Clearly pain management is a discussion to have with yourdoctor. But I would also ask you to be aware of these tendencies; both as a patient and as a relative, a friend or a carer.
So what can you do?
Don’t just stop your life…
Recovering patients all too often slip into a reduced lifestyle, both physically and mentally. But the very action of this reduction will have further consequences. Your body and mind both need to be active. A reduction in activity in either of these is more likely to impair health improvement. The more active you are, the better you will feel.
Who can you help?…
Recovering patients often believe that they are all on their own, but this is rarely the case. In their town or local community, there may be thousands of people who are in a similar situation. These are also fighting some kind of alone recovery battle and also feel quite isolated. Try to seek out others who are in similar situations and investigate if you could work together. You will discover that there is a collective strength and you will be able to help others.
Find a support group…
Across the Internet there are maybe 10,000+ individual “medical” support groups. I certainly did find them to be very useful. There is no doubt that your particular condition may offer some very unique challenges. But when you discover that other people have already faced these challenges and overcome them, your journey will be easier.
Often these sites are specialised and quite close to the latest medical developments in the condition. They will know many of the key specialists in the field. My experience was that the groups were very willing to help and could offer wise counsel, guidance and support. In time, I was able to support them too and still have many penfriends from this time.
The overall benefits…
The benefits are almost too great to list – basically the other folks will tend feel better and so will you. Your social life will improve and you will be less aware of your medical discomforts. Above you will be a happier person and much more able to cope with life.