Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chronic Pain.... a close friend


... It is just “the new normal"...


For my readers who know me personally, or for those who follow my articles, it is no secret that I am less than sympathetic to those among us who whine and complain endlessly. I struggle for patience with those that blame the world for their woes. And my thoughts below remain consistent with that insistence of taking responsibility for one’s self, and contribution to society.

It was only years ago that I was guilty of shying away from those who suffered from chronic pain, granted, there have not been many that I crossed paths with. It is even possible that I have spent time socializing with sufferers, but was oblivious to their situation. (I expect that this was more often than I expect).

Now I am one of those “sufferers”, and upon self reflection, I probably still shy away from those who are openly cursed. I expect my reasons for avoiding these folks, or experiencing awkward discomfort in exchanging social niceties has changed from before and after my surgeries.. But that is for a different blog post.

I am not a true fan of the term “Chronic Pain”, but I suppose, it does a reasonable job - Chronic (continued, long term) and Pain, pretty self explanatory, if you are unsure, firmly strike your thumb with a hammer. So that is pretty well it.. long term, unrelenting pain.

But with several years under my belt of living with this affliction, the definition seems to fall a bit short. We have all experienced pain in our lives, and the one resounding reprieve of this experience is the relief that in varying amounts of time, this unpleasant sensation will disappear and be forgotten. Regardless of the intensity of the pain, it leaves and almost without exception is difficult to recall even days later. But what if there is no reprieve? What if there is no solace in knowing that that throbbing of your thumb after a hammer strike will be a permanent state? It becomes a very different experience.

Interesting enough, the experience of the pain changes with it’s ever presence... I had a doctor sum it up very profoundly and it rings in my ears often.. Living with this unending discomfort is “the new normal”.

It (pain) takes on a personality, and becomes a lifelong companion. Unlike family, friends, co-workers, it becomes an entity that shares every second of your life with you. Every waking moment, even during the deepest moments of concentration, it shares these moments with you, and even the most private moment just before you drift off to sleep, anticipating the enjoyment of resting your thoughts in a deep sleep. Without choice, this private time is now shared with a new friend. It wakes you, in the night, almost like a newborn infant needing midnight attention. Waking to the thoughts of a new day, is replaced, with being woken by your unwanted sidekick, and the days planning is now a combined effort, what you want to do, and what your annoying friend will let you do.

Before I understood what effect Chronic Pain had on a person, I assumed, heavy doses of pain medications could eliminate the symptoms. My unfortunate ignorance of modern medicine I confess. On a personal note, regardless of the dosage or type of pill, it only quiets the new life friend, but never gives you alone time from him/her (interesting, as I have given my chronic pain a personality, I have never until this moment considered it having a gender, but I digress).

I do not know this for a fact, but I believe that there are a good number of co-sufferers, that like myself, don’t want to be that “guy” to avoid in social situations, the “guy” that describes his condition to anyone that will listen (willingly or not). Nor do I want to waste family and friends time buy describing how I am actually feeling. None of these important people in my life can make my permanent co-habitant go away. The claustrophobic sensation of living with something that can never be escaped from is a deeply personal and unchangeable situation.

Ironically, I rarely waste effort hating my friend, wishing it away, hoping for it disappearance. Maybe at first, but now, I am accustomed to having my company with me all the time. It is interesting to consider, if one morning I woke, and my friend was gone, no pain, no distraction. I wonder, aside from the initial elation, what I would feel. Something that has positioned itself as the #1 consideration before I do anything - would I miss it? Interesting to consider.

I hope, by detailing this, and openly describing the interesting facts of Chronic Pain does not come across as hypocritical, as I am also committed to not burdening others with my issues. I detail this for the sole purpose for the interest for those in understanding what, with the cut of a surgeon’s scalpel, an intrusion of cancer, or a variety of reasons, within an instant we are greeted by a new “friend” who will share the rest of our lives with. A friend that is temperamental and moody, that can one day make walking difficult, to other days keeping you on the sidelines for activities, to nights that it refused to sleep.

It is just “the new normal”


  1. Hi.. I just want to say that it was a nice reading material. I hope you come out with more interesting posts, because I bookmarked your website. All the best.
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    1. Brian, I am glad that you are enjoying my articles.. I have taken a bit of a break from posting (this damn work thing seems to occupy a bit too much of my time LOL) .. however, I have 2 articles I am drafting now, so I hope to have some fresh reading up soon.
      Thanks Again