I’ve seen this question asked a lot on social media lately, ‘why take medication if it doesn’t take away all the pain?’ I’m pretty sure most chronic pain sufferers have had to answer it at one point, and if you haven’t you no doubt will in the future.
I was 17 the first time I was asked, I remember it clearly as if it was yesterday (and it was twelve years ago), and it really annoyed me then. I’ve been living with chronic pain for sixteen years, tried every treatment you could possibly think of, and there’s absolutely nothing that completely takes all the pain away. I take a variety of prescription drugs that do different things; painkillers, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and nerve suppressors, to name a few. I’ve found what works for me and although it took a while to find the right combination, I couldn’t function without them.
So why do I take medication if I’m still in pain?
Like I’ve just mentioned, if I didn’t take any medication at all I wouldn’t be able to do anything. You have to remember that the pain is excruciating, scream-worthy, has me in tears, but the drugs make it so those days aren’t every day. My medication means management, it means I can do things, and although I’m still experiencing an abnormal amount of pain, I can still get things done. My medication takes the edge off.
A lot of us that suffer with chronic pain have a really high pain threshold, we can withstand quite a lot. Sometimes I dislocate an barely bat and eyelid but a person who doesn’t live with daily pain would potentially be screaming. A pulled muscle, a sprain, a torn ligament may be the worst pain a non-chronic person has ever dealt with, to me, it’s not so bad. You have to realise that pain is subjective but because I’m used to it, my breaking point is much higher. I’m not saying this is a good thing, because it’s really not. I’d much rather have the odd sprain and it hurt for a few days than to be hurting every single day for the rest of my life. What is a 10 on the pain scale to non-chronic people, would probably be a lot lower for someone dealing with chronic pain. I live my life switching between 7-10, there’s nothing lower, the pain doesn’t go.
Then there’s the flip-side, when I’m crying in pain and unable to move and my medication doesn’t even touch my pain. Why take it then? Because sometimes it does work, and how am I to know if it will or wont? I have various other devices and aids to help me combat my pain but I could not live without medication. I’d be tearing my hair out, when not crying I’d be angry and irritable, I’d be depressed, housebound, isolated, exhausted; it’s not a person I’d ever want to be.
There’s no point in shaming those of us that rely on medication to participate in society, to get out of bed, to survive; we already have a tough enough fight on our hands without dealing with your judgement and negativity. Along with my team of medical professionals, I know what is best for me; so please think before you pose a harmful question to a chronically ill person. We’re bloody trying.