How Living With Chronic Pain Has Changed My Perspective on Life
Did you know chronic pain affects approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide? And it impacts them differently from persistent yet manageable pain to debilitating symptoms needing multiple hospital admissions, regular medication or even no treatment available? Chronic pain is pain which usually lasts longer than six months, which often doesn’t just cause physical pain, but for many it affects them emotionally too.
My chronic pain journey properly began in December 2018 when I experienced back pain. My family and I thought it was due to me doing too much at my trampolining training or my bed at my student house, but we did not think the cause was due to my rare disease scimitar syndrome. After seeing my GP, trying medication and starting physiotherapy, I had some x-rays because things were not improving, and it was impacting me more and more. After tests and consultations, the cause of my back pain was due to only one of my lungs working causing an oxygen imbalance and therefore a kyphosis curve of the spine. We went thinking it was more of an injury type problem which physiotherapy and exercises could improve to a chronic problem needing regular physiotherapy, daily exercises and trialing multiple medications to control the pain. This was something I really did not need on top of my already tough rare disease. But it has genuinely taught me so much, from my admiration for allied health professionals to not taking anything for granted. It may sound a bit cheesy that it has changed my perspective on things, but it really has.
First, though there is no cure it has given me the motivation to help myself as much as possible. Of course when there are times where I feel low about my illness, this is hard, but having exercises to do myself and doing my best has really driven me to control my condition as much as possible.
Having chronic pain has also changed my perspective on taking things for granted. I have always thought of myself as a grateful person, but having chronic pain has really helped me realize that enjoying the simpler things in life is so important. It has helped me to be thankful for what I have been able to do each day, for example, being able to go for a walk in the fresh air one day or being able to carry out my studies sitting for long periods one day really is something to treasure for me. It is so important to enjoy the good days when they are here because with a lot of chronic pain and chronic illness, symptoms and flare-ups can creep up on you.
Although chronic pain can be incredibly difficult to deal with, there are positive aspects of it, and I believe it is important to acknowledge those moments to help your emotional wellbeing. For me, the best part is support from allied health professionals who do not get enough admiration. Without my physiotherapist, things would be very different for me. They work tirelessly to treat the person as a whole while going above and beyond to research about a person’s medical history. I honestly cannot thank my physiotherapist enough and without my chronic pain, I would not be able to get an insight on the work these allied health professionals do to help people’s quality of life.
The other best part of my chronic pain is educating others about invisible illness and chronic pain. I can see the world and definitely the world of illness from a different perspective than others, to raise awareness and advocate for this community so our voices are heard. I really do know that with chronic pain it isn’t that easy to feel thankful and acknowledge the good days; everyone has hard days and low moments and that is totally OK.
If you are experiencing more low or anxious moments than good days, it is also OK to reach out for help. Chronic pain and chronic illness are tough enough.
Getty image by Victor_Tongdee