I don’t know about you but whenever I mention that I suffer with chronic pain some people tell me to ‘get well soon’ or wish me a ‘speedy recovery.’ Now, I know they mean well and mostly have good intentions but a part of me wonders whether they actually know what ‘chronic’ means. If roles were reversed, I wouldn’t be telling a someone with a chronic condition to ‘get better soon.’ I know they won’t get better, they’ll have better days but there’ll be no recovery like if they’d broken a leg or had the flu.
I wrote a few posts last year about empathy, and in one I briefly touched on what ‘chronic’ means but I thought I’d go a bit more in-depth, well, because I want to. If you’d like to read my posts on empathy, part one is here, and part two here.
There’s a massive difference between acute pain and chronic pain. As a chronic pain sufferer, I long for the days of a pain-free afternoon, even a pain-free hour.
Acute pain is the pain you feel when you’re hurt. If you stub your toe, break a bone, cut yourself. Acute pain doesn’t last long and once the injury heals, the pain is gone.
In regards to an injury, chronic pain continues after you’ve healed. And there are plenty of conditions that cause chronic pain – I’m looking at you EDS, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis. Chronic pain is often diagnosed after three to six months of pain and can last years, if not a lifetime. Since EDS is genetic, I got this chronic pain thing for the foreseeable.
Having a long-lasting chronic condition means ‘continuous or episodic periods of incapacity.’ For me, I’m in pain daily, I couldn’t function without medication and I use an electric wheelchair to get out and about. No matter how little I’ve done during the day or how well I’ve been getting on, a flare-up can come out of nowhere with no trigger. The majority of the time the chronic life just likes to throw a curve-ball and mess shit up. ‘Sarah hasn’t had a flare in a few weeks and is starting to feel good about her health, let’s fuck that up.’
A question I’m often asked and what winds me up the most is, ‘why are you going out if you’re in pain?’ My response is always the same, ‘if I didn’t go out every time I was in pain, I’d never go anywhere.’ And it’s true. Some days are much worse than others, some days I can barely move but on the days I’m in a manageable amount of pain, I want to participate in society, I want to see outside these four walls. My pain is still valid, it’s just at a more functional level. But let’s be honest, after I’ve left my house, I usually can’t wait to get back as the functional level has soared to ‘GET TO BED.’
Living with chronic pain is tough but I hope this has cleared a few things up regarding what it means to live with chronic pain/condition(s).
Any questions, please leave them down below or tweet me.