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10 Things I've Learned After Living With Chronic Back Pain for 15 Years


Aside from family and a couple of friends, I don’t often talk publicly about my back pain (resulting from a freak car accident in 2003) because:

1. I don’t want sympathy.

2. Nor do I want to be a chronic complainer or killjoy.

3. Sometimes people treat you differently

4. I’m trying to live the best life despite it. I don’t want it to define me. And, while it’s important I talk to professionals, talking about it constantly “in general” isn’t going to help.

However I’ve recently thought that maybe it’s important to share my thoughts on it because if I do, I might just help someone else who is going through something similar.

Here’s what I’ve learned while living with chronic back pain for 15 years:

1. Back pain doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if you feel guilty for being a sub-par mother, wife, or friend because pain affects your mood. It doesn’t care if you want to watch your daughter’s dance concert, but the pain of sitting for too long is excruciating. It doesn’t care if you push through the pain, just to appear “normal.” It doesn’t care if you get through the day, or even do a good deed. It doesn’t care if it’s your birthday or anniversary, or you want to work a job. It doesn’t care if you tirelessly try treatments such as surgeries, physical therapy, natural and alternative remedies, injections, tests, imaging and endless medications – only to find you are still in pain. It’s here and it doesn’t care.

2. Feeling judged for trying some of the aforementioned treatments (in particular, medication) is futile, but extremely hard to avoid given the amount of unwanted and/or unnecessary opinions out there.

3. Pretending to be OK is exhausting – physically, mentally and emotionally.

4. “Normal” day-to-day tasks like hanging out the washing, vacuuming or helping to prevent bullying are an accomplishment.

5. Not being able to do said normal day-to-day task” without pain is beyond frustrating.

6. Pain makes another injury, stress, upset, life-change, or worry much harder to deal with.

7. People who don’t have chronic pain can never fully understand and I’m so happy for them, but also damn jealous.

8. I know if I let too much negativity in, I won’t be able to deal with it.

9. I’m still hopeful I will find a remedy.

10. Even on my worst days, I am always thankful to be alive and have people in my life supporting me and loving me.

Getty Image by dobok