What to Consider Before Joking About Someone's Chronic Pain


I am coming up on one year since the permanent spinal cord stimulator was implanted. That should be a day of celebration so to speak, but in my case, I will probably be questioning whether it was worth it or not. I returned to work after being on disability for 11 months to recover. I knew it was going to be a challenge to get back into the swing of things and get readjusted to a routine.

What I did not expect was to slip on ice a week after I went back to work. I didn’t hit the ground, but I did tweak my back trying to prevent myself from hitting the ground and had to miss two days of work to regain the ability to move around. What I definitely did not expect was to have people find that incident funny and make jokes about it or have someone say to another employee that “certain people need to learn to walk lighter.” I also didn’t expect people to make fun of the fact that I can no longer stand straight because of the pain. All those kinds of things do is make a chronic pain patient even more self-conscious.

What I hope people will get from this is that even though someone else may find it funny, the person struggling may not. I wish people would stop for a second and think how they would feel if those kinds of things were said to or about their mother, father, brother, sister or child. I can say it’s a safe bet that it wouldn’t be so funny then.

So please, take the time to think before cracking that joke or coming up with a nickname to be funny. Please have some compassion and empathy for other people and instead of cracking jokes and making fun of someone. Maybe stop and ask if there is anything you can do to help them or if they are OK. Asking those two simple questions can make a huge difference in the day of a person with chronic pain.

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