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It's Time to Bust the Myth That You Can't Be Young and Have Chronic Pain

A common misconception is¬†that you have to be a ‚Äúcertain age‚ÄĚ to be in pain.¬†Even trained medical
professionals are guilty of this ignorant mindset.

I had surgery on my right¬†hip back in February. The surgery was a¬†lot more ‚Äúmajor‚ÄĚ than expected, and trust me when I say we expected¬†it to be a major surgery. I was in the hospital on the hip floor for three days¬†where I was on severe fall precaution and severe hip precaution, meaning I¬†could not do any motion by myself, especially move my¬†right leg. I¬†remember overhearing one of the nurses just starting the shift saying I don’t¬†look like I needed all that precaution (a tone that quickly changed once I¬†‚Äúpolitely‚ÄĚ informed her I had 20 tumors taken out and my hip¬†dislocated and removed from the socket to reconstruct the entire joint and¬†tissue).

I can’t tell you how many¬†dirty looks I get when I park in accessible¬†spots or when I use motorized carts¬†to shop. Or how many times I’ve been told I’m ‚Äútoo young‚ÄĚ to have hip¬†and back problems. The ironic part is, I’ve probably had more tumors removed by¬†the time I was 16 than all those people who give the dirty looks will have¬†removed in their entire lifetime. Chronic pain conditions affect more Americans¬†than any other conditions, including diabetes and cancer. According to a 2006 report by the National Institutes of Health,¬†26 percent of Americans reported suffering from pain lasting over 24 hours, and of¬†that 26 percent, 25 percent are young adults the age range 20 to 44. Globally, the American¬†Academy of Pain Medicine estimates 1.5 billion have¬†chronic pain, with¬†3 to 4.5 percent of the global population struggling with¬†neuropathic pain.

I know I speak for many when¬†I say I grew up in pain. I was born with multiple hereditary exostoses; a rare painful bone disease¬†characterized by tumors. At the age of 22 I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia,¬†after years and years of symptoms. A ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ person’s 10 is my four, and what used to be my 10 now a six. Living in constant pain, you grow accustomed to¬†pain, hiding it so well people think it’s OK¬†to give you dirty looks and¬†stares while you’re struggling to make it another five steps to the car. It’s the sad reality of living with an¬†invisible illness that can only be changed by vocalizing our pain.

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