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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Platitudes and quotes and why what may make sense in the 'real' world doesn't when you live with pain

I know some people believe these sayings are helpful: Get over it and move on. Good things come to those who wait. When life gives you lemons make lemonade. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

No They are not.

You cannot get over it if it does not stop. There is no way to move on when the pain continues to beat you up. People who tell you this - to 'move on' do not 'get' chronic pain. If I sprain my ankle but keep limping weeks after it is better or tell the story of how I did it over and over again - for sure I need to get over it. But I cannot get over something that does not go away.

When in pain waiting is not an option. Nothing good can come of waiting. Maybe the pain will go away. Give it more time. I have given it 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 10 years, 30 years. Nothing comes out of waiting but more frustration.

Pain is not a lemon. There is no way to make something sweet out of it.

I may learn a lot of things about myself because of the pain.
For instance, I do not think of myself as courageous. I do not think living with pain or fighting it makes me heroic. In one of those late night college dorm conversations where all sorts of theoretical questions are raised, ideas that seem out of the realm of our possibilities, had you asked me "Do you think you could go through all sorts of surgery, even experimental, because you have chronic constant unrelievable pain?" my first response would have been "What? No one could have such a thing." If I was forced to answer I would have replied "No. Never. I do not know what I would do but I could never, ever imagine such an horrendous thing." Even today it sometimes seems impossible that this is what my life turned out to be.

Some people think it is heroic or courageous to make the fight. I do not feel it is. Courage and heroics seem to me to be the result of a conscious choice. Most of my decisions as to what I allowed to be done to me or agreed to try were the result of sheer life instinct - I must stop the pain. No way is it the end result of turning the pain into something it is not - no lemon into lemonade.

The pain does not kill, at least not all at once. Little slivers, bigger chunks of hopes, expectations, desires. Those are killed. Maybe strength is one result, the strength of resolve to do whatever you must and whatever you can to end the pain. Maybe that last cliche is true. It did not kill me. Maybe I am stronger in many ways I could never have fathomed and ways I still do not realize.


  1. As someone who was in a serious car accident in January 2010... I have have been in constant pain ever since... Although there was tons of concern immediately after the accident going into one and now two years after people have started to question my pain levels. A lot of people adopted the attitude that I was just being a wimp. After getting my last round of testing down a problem and reason for some of my intense pain has been found.... Hopefully this now will help me find some relief from the sleepless agony and painful days that I fake enjoyment in things. One thing is for sure ... Chronic pain sufferers are not "wimps" or "just exaggerating " their pain - if anything most chronic pain sufferers bear their pain silence..

    1. I know what you mean. After 20 years, 6 hopeful surgeries, 2 different Dorsal Column Stimulators being implanted, multiple series of Flouroscope Injections & a Rhizotomy 1 wk. ago....because L-5 slipped off S-1 100%, everyone keeps asking, "Is it any better?" Well, my chancees are so slim for any comfort.....I only wish I can APPEAR normal & keep 'sucking it up'. No one is really going to 'get it'.

  2. I am sorry you are enduring this. I think anytime we can finally put a name to it the chances improve dramatically that we can be helped. I hope this is the direction it is headed now for you. And I agree for many of us it is silence becausre what is the point to say it when it is ignored, or worse. Sometimes a name to it also helps that.

  3. Hi Carol,
    This post is so true, we can't just "get over it". I always feel that if someone can get up in the morning, take a shower and go to school, work or whatever, and not have to be in pain or suffer for it later, then they're very, very lucky. But, it does give me a different perspective on life. I have a lot more compassion for others, and I know what's important.
    P.S. Carol, can you give me an e-mail or some way to write to you? I want to ask your advice and share a couple of things with you. Thanks!

  4. Hi Renee,
    I agree, my outlook definitely changed as to what is 'lucky' and thinking outside the box when it comes to understanding someone else's situation.
    I forget if you are on women in pain awareness group on fb. You can shoot me a message that way. (:

  5. Hello all,
    You really have to love it when these people, ( who have no idea of what you're feeling) shove their advice down your throat. I am 54 years old, my neck started acting up in my earle 30's. Now, I am told that it is too far gone and there is nothing they can do for it, according to the x-rays and MRI's, I have the neck of an eighty or ninety year old. To top that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, sponylolithesis in l5, s1, 50 % slippage and osteitis pubis. When the barometer drops and there is rain coming, I sleep for pretty much a whole day exactly 2 days before.
    I have so called friends that tell me it is mind over matter, you need to get out and socialize, he'll, I can't even stand straight on a good day. After one hour of "socializing ( which I don't enjoy because people just judge you), I cannot move for a coup,e of days.
    I use to be so active. Working 60 hours a week was nothing for me and I love the job I did, I supported people with developmental disabilities. I went off work in Dec., 2009. I am going crazy.
    People. Can be very mean..."oh, you look good today" , that would be because I straightened my hair that day.
    No, mind over matter is when you have a chil, an operation ( I have had many), a cut, broken bone etc. the difference between these and chronic pain is, childbirth, operations and broken bones, you are able to see an end in sight. With chronic pain, you have no idea of when it is gaining to end. So don't tell me that I need to get out more and socialize, don't tell me that if I find something else to do, I will forget about my pain. Don't judge me because I take painkillers, and I should go off them, because they make me able to move.

    Until you have walked in someone's shoes, going through chronic pain, don't tell me what is or is not good for me!

    Thank you for letting me vent!

  6. Susan, Thank you for telling how you feel. I am golad you felt you could here. If not you might want to join our women in pain awareness group on FB,!/groups/111961795481256/ and there is another group where the owner of it has some of the same issues with her back and bones as you.!/groups/chronicintractablepainandyou/
    I hope things are getting better.

  7. Hi everyone! I am 38 and I suffer from chronic pain (fibromyalgia) Diagnosed this year in April. I am a type a personality and I worked 60+ hours a week. And one day at work I had electrical shocks go from my neck down my body and I just shut down. I lived alone and now I had to move back in with my ex-husband to survive financially. I have never been so depressed in my life. I think that the life that I once had will never be again. I have thought of ending it all. But I hang on because I have a five year old son. He is all that makes me fight.
    My mother has been a chronic pain patient for 35 years. I have always had issues with her because she was so negative towards me and my brother all our lives. I was three when she was hit by a car that was going 70 miles and hour and hit her from behind while she was stopped to turn. She was 23 and her life she said was taken away. I grew to hate her. And now I'm going through it
    and now I understand. But it's to late. She called me and said she is tired and going to take her life. Now I have issues about my mother giving up and going to take her life. I'm scared for her and for me. I hope that I can be strong and not do the same. She fractured her back all the way up and has fibro and degenerate disc disease. I love her and wish I could change the way I treated her all these years. Now I am to suffer because of it. She has given me all her pain and I except it. Rest in piece my dear sweet mother.

    1. I understand how she feels but as someone who was told 'ration suicide' was acceptable in my case by doctors and even a pain specializing psychiatrist, please make sure that she has given it all a try. What saved me was an implant.
      I hope she has not taken action yet. I know how hard it is for you to hear and I understand, as do y ou and so many of us, how pain takes every ounce of strength to fight.
      I am glad to read you have reasons to continue your fight.
      I will hope your mother can find the extra strength it requires to make one more effort to find help.

  8. I know this feeling well. I'm 33 years old and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and cervical dystonia three years ago. I have the spine of an 70 year old basically. I am in constant pain all day, every day. I know some people try to understand....but until you've lived can't.

  9. Anonymous. Thank you for commenting. There are a number of people with dystonia at our support site Women In Pain Awareness on Facebook, if you are on facebook. I don't have the click at hand but just put the name in the search box at the top of the FB page and it will come up.

  10. Hi! Thanks for the great information you havr provided! You have touched on crucuial points! inspirational lines

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