Time to Get Real
Just yesterday, a single sentence from a Facebook friend led me to ponder something I take for granted.
I am a chronic pain patient, most doctors’ worst nightmare, and I am tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.
Among the litany of ailments, which I won’t list here, I have fibromyalgia.
I can see the virtual eye rolls from those who think that fibro is a “garbage can” diagnosis meant to shut up the patient who presents with debilitating pain, exhaustion, and memory issues. And, it was just that. Until some dedicated scientists and doctors began to really study the disease.
All of this has little to do with this post, but I use the first few paragraphs to set the stage for the real reason I’m writing.
It’s the shame, the guilt, the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that so many chronic pain patients experience.
We feel it every time we have to explain to a doctor that yes, we hurt, and yes, we understand your lab work doesn’t give any indication why.
We feel it every time we encounter a pharmacist, skeptical as to why we need yet another month’s supply of an opioid medication.
We feel it every time a family member or friend – always well-meaning, of course – tells us about the latest breakthrough in treating chronic pain with home remedies like beet enemas and anecdotal evidence that it worked for someone’s brother’s wife’s mother.
Or worse, when friends and family tell us we just need to get up and do more…everything. Walk, exercise, go vegan, deny gluten, and drink lots of water. I mean, if we did all that we’d be fine, right?
We look normal.
We (usually) act normal.
We desperately want to be normal.
We don’t want to wake up every morning more tired than when we went to bed.
We don’t want to hurt from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes.
We don’t want to feel like we’re slogging through molasses that gets thicker as the day wears on.
And so many of us don’t want to have to rely on a pill to get us through the next day, the next few hours, until we can take another to dampen the pain to the point of making it possible to function for a while.
Mental health gets a bright spotlight, and almost everyone is understanding and caring. Take a pill to elevate your mood, or keep you from going all stabbity? That’s considered a good thing.
Chronic pain patients don’t always get that same TLC.
And we need it.