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5 Things You Can't See About Living With Chronic Pain

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1. Chronic pain is really loud, really angry music coming from a few houses down.  It’s annoying and disruptive to your life, but it’s not so loud that you have to cover your ears as if you were at a concert of the constant singing (screaming) that accompanies loud, angry music. That’s on a good day.

2. Chronic pain is waking up every morning and doing an inventory of which part of your body slipped out of place or got slept on wrong or is going to give you a particular amount of trouble that morning. It’s making sure that when you stand up, you’re not going to fall because your legs decided to just randomly not support you.

3. Chronic pain chooses its victims indiscriminately. It’s often thought of as a complaint of aging, of old bones and senior citizens. The young can and do have chronic pain. They can have severe pain, debilitating pain. Just because we are young doesn’t mean that we can’t be in immense amounts of pain at any time of any day.

4. Chronic pain causes “painsomnia” which is like a second circle of hell of insomnia. Painsomnia is not being able to sleep because you are in so much pain. Painsomnia makes you lie there, only to have to switch positions within three minutes because something is hurting. Painsomnia can make the chronic fatigue worse. Once you fall asleep, it’s only a matter of time until pain wakes you up again. The sleep is restless, and it is not refreshing.

5. Chronic pain is invisible. Chronic pain can damage relationships — in the home, at school, at work. Chronic pain sometimes makes us, the people who have it, get called things like “lazy.” It gets people to tell us that we should try this diet and this supplement and that hiking trail over there. Sometimes we get called other fun names like “faker” and “hypochondriac” and, my favorite, “drug seeker.”

Probably the worst thing about chronic pain is the last one. Like any chronic illness, chronic pain changes a person’s life. It limits the activities we are able to do, which means missing out on time with loved ones.

The other day, my family and I went to the mall. It was a huge mall. I thought I was having a good day; I thought I could hang.

I was wrong.

I spent most of the day in the car because the walking was just too much for my back. I think I made it to one store.

At first, I was really upset about missing the day. The silver lining of the day is that I was able to eat dinner and enjoy both the long drive there and back with my significant other.

Chronic pain limits in our lives in so many ways. It sends us to bed. It forces us out of work. We seek doctor after doctor who can help our pain. We miss out on gatherings; we miss out on fun activities.

Please believe me when I say that we would be there if we could.

As with every type of chronic illness, even if it seems to totally dominate your life, there are always silver linings. Find a moment in each day that you can hold onto as your good part of the day. Not every day is going to be a good day health wise, but there is always a silver lining in every situation we are placed in.

Find the silver lining.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 23, 2017
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