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To Anyone Who Will Be in a Doctor's Office for Chronic Pain This Week

“No one notices your pain, no one notices your sadness, no one notices your tears, but everyone notices your mistakes.” — Unknown

I broke down and went to the doctor yesterday for this ridiculous sinus infection. I really do not like going to the doctor after spending years upon years sitting in waiting rooms. However, I have been doing everything I have been doing naturally for years and the damn thing won’t go away, so I gave in.   

Sitting in the waiting room with my little girl reminded me of what a nightmare going to the doctor is. The memories flooded through me of the countless years I spent waiting to hear another doctor or pain specialist say, “There is nothing left we can do,” or praying during my final years of searching for a cure hearing: “OK, here is a prescription for Percocet, see you in a month.” I worked as a medical social worker for many years, I love most doctors and thank God for modern science and everything they do for us. I am just a bit traumatized when it comes to waiting rooms, and worse, the waiting once in the doctor’s office. Why do they have to shut the door? It is suffocating in that room. I think there should be a compromise between doctors and patients — can we just keep that big door open halfway? My 3-year-old and I were in the actual doctor’s office for an hour. It felt like a prison to me and I cannot imagine taking her there every other day as I once did many moons ago. 

I allowed her to watch a show on my phone and I felt paralyzed. I just sat there staring at the scale, tongue depressors, and the most uncomfortable table with a role of paper lying on it to protect one for germs. In all honesty, I felt worse once I left than before I got there. Even though I was not there for pain, it just brought back so many memories that my stuffy nose and cough no longer seemed like a big deal compared to my journey with chronic pain.

I then began thinking of my readers and how many of them will be in a waiting room or doctor’s office this week or this day. I talked to the doctor about my bike accident and how I manage pain without medications and he was telling me things I already know: the benefits of exercise and the differences between acute and chronic illnesses. I wanted to just grab one of my cards that has my website printed on it and run away. Or just scream, “No #$%^, I just told you I manage pain naturally and I am here for a sinus infection, not chronic pain, so take a lesson from Dr. McStuffins and check my nose, ears and throat.” Clearly, I did not do that but I wanted to, and he is a genuinely nice person but I was in no mood.   

Having an invisible illness such as chronic pain is one of the most difficult ailments because it is invisible (most of the time). I think of all of you who take the time to read my writings and feel such a huge amount of empathy and emotional pain for the old Jessica and for all of you. The above quote is so true: No one does see your pain, you cry in the shower or in bed when no one can hear you so no one sees your tears, but they sure as hell see your mistakes. I do not believe you are making mistakes in your journey with chronic pain especially when you are in the thick of it. You are doing the best you can and no one has a right to judge you for how you chose to deal with your physical pain. 

I see your pain, I know you cry all the time, and I do not judge any of you for anything you do to lessen your pain. As Elvis Presley once said: “We are all addicted to something that takes the pain away.” Your journey will continue to unfold and everything will be OK, but please remember you are not alone and if no one else in your world sees your pain, please remember the girl in New Jersey who will always tell you: “I believe you.”

Follow this journey on No One Gets Flowers for Chronic Pain.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.