Guest Post By: Jane Collins is a blogger at G9 Sleep Tight, a blog dedicated to helping people to have a healthy sleep.
A study conducted by the IOM (Institute of Medicine) in the USA back in 2011 revealed that more that 100 million Americans have chronic pain. This statistic means that more than a third of all Americans have some form of permanent pain.
The situation is worse in other countries, and different studies by the WHO (World Health Organization) also reveal that hundreds of millions across the globe have some form of chronic pain.
Even though this condition is more prevalent than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined, most people do not understand what persistent pain sufferers go through every day.
Here are ten things that only people with chronic pain can understand:
#1 Getting Intimate Can Be a Tall Order
Maintaining sexual intimacy is a tall order for most individuals with chronic pain. As much as one would like to give his or her partner all the pleasure they deserve, it can be difficult.
In fact, some conditions, such as pelvic floor pain, make it almost impossible to get intimate.
And, if you factor in the fact that your partner may have to skip work to care for you or take you to regular hospital visits, this could put further strain on your relationship.
#2 The Pain Is Not Just Physical, It’s Also Emotional
The physical pain that comes with this condition is what most people that do not have it understand or at least know. However, if you have chronic pain, you know that it also has immense emotional effects.
If you are always feeling pain, frustration will start building up, and keeping anger at bay will also require some extra effort. In some cases, all of this may build up into something more severe like depression.
The emotional burden and effects of this condition are just as real as the physical pain.
#3 Getting out of Bed Is an Uphill Task
For most people, getting out of bed is accompanied by a lot of excitement as they look forward to a productive and happy day. However, the same is not the case for a person with chronic pain, because just getting out of bed can be a strenuous task.
Everything hurts in the morning for people who live with pain because the body is adjusting to being active after being in a relaxed state, so it takes a lot of time and effort just to put your feet on the floor.
#4 Finding a Good Doctor Is Not Always Easy
One would think that the number of doctors and other medical experts that specialize in chronic pain treatment would be very high given the fact that millions of people have the problem.
However, this could not be further from the truth, and anyone with the condition understands how hard it can be to get a good doctor.
Most doctors are not trained to deal with pain management or, they are just not interested.
Furthermore, when a person with recurrent pain finds that one good doctor, they will tend to hang onto them for as long as possible.
#5 Looking and Behaving Normally Takes a Lot of Effort
Most people will not know that you have chronic pain if they see you walking around or doing normal and regular things. However, what they do not understand is that it takes a lot of effort to look and behave like a healthy person.
You have might have to take a nap and some pills before going out to keep the exhaustion at bay, and sometimes you just have to push on and act as if everything is okay despite all the pain.
#6 Not Working Does Not Mean You Don’t Want To
You may not be able to work if you are always in pain, but this is not to say that you are not willing to.
Finding employment might not be easy because it’s difficult to hire someone who will always be complaining about pain, walking out after a couple of hours each day, or even failing to show up for some days.
People with chronic pain have dreams and ambitions that they want to achieve or careers to advance and grow, but the pain may make it too much of a burden.
#7 Pain Is Variable
With this condition, one day you wake up feeling good and want to meet everyone or go for a trip, and the next day you do not even feel like lifting your head off the pillow.
Pain is variable when it comes to this condition, and so most people will not understand what it is all about. In fact, some will think that you are making a mountain out of a molehill because just the other day you were all cheerful and did stuff.
#8 It is NOT About Seeking Drugs, But Looking for Relief
There is a common misconception that people with chronic pain tend to abuse pain relief drugs and that they are always seeking them.
However, this is just that, a misconception, and those who have the condition know that it is not about drug seeking to get “high” but about looking for relief for the unimaginable pain that they have to face.
Whether it is medical marijuana or conventional drugs with unpleasant side effects, you will not mind taking them just to get relief, even if it will only be temporary.
#9 People Living With Chronic Pain Do Not Need Medical Advice
It is annoying when people are always trying to give you some medical advice on how you can treat or reduce the pain. A person with pain spends most of his or her time thinking about the condition, and so it goes without saying that they are always doing some research.
This means any medical advice friends or relatives might give is not something new. In fact, chances are you have already tried what is being suggested, and it did not work.
With chronic pain, you do not want sympathy or pity, but acceptance and love.
#10 Sleep Can Be Elusive
Getting some sleep is not easy with chronic pain because the symptoms make it difficult. You are more likely to end up tossing and turning in bed than falling asleep due to the pain.
This will, in turn, mean that you will have less energy during the day and not be in the mood to engage in anything. However, practicing good sleep hygiene is beneficial to most people with persistent pain.
Meditation, breathing exercises, taking sleep medication, and having a comfortable pillow to support your sleep are some of the things that can help you get the rest you need.
Chronic pain is a serious illness that millions of people have to live with all their lives. If you know someone with the condition, the best thing is to try to understand what they go through. One might not have a solution to their problem, but love, care, acceptance, and understanding are vital in helping them cope.