In the beginning, they don’t tell you much about chronic pain. You are faced with the Fact it is chronic but it never really hits you, does it? Not right away. But what they don’t tell you, you have to learn the hard way.
- There will be times you will not cope well. Pain is relentless and eventually, that will get to you, either from outside stresses or because it has worn you down and you will have troubles coping. It does happen. It takes some time. Some adjustment and we get our balance again. This can happen more than once over time.
- Every once in a while you will be in denial all over again. You will Want to be able to do or achieve something you know you can’t with the pain and simply ignore all you have learned about your pain. You will exceed your limits. It will be a painful lesson.
- You will likely have to compromise on your ambitions and career goals in some fashion or another at some time or another.
- Pain doesn’t exist in a vacuum and so it causes other symptoms: fatigue, insomnia (painsomnia), increased need to rest, withdrawal from activities, weakened immune system, changes in mood (anxiety, hopelessness, depression, irritability, anger, stress) and it can cause disability.
- It can affect mental clarity, concentration, memory and focus.
- They certainly don’t tell you, you will get tired of fighting it and may have suicidal ideation. Ideation is quite common with chronic pain. Intent, less so, but the risk for suicide is higher with chronic pain. A study looked and found severe pain itself a suicide risk factor. Add in the comorbid conditions like depression and it can be a serious concern for us.
- They don’t tell you it is extremely hard to treat and often you will be faced with indifference in treatment and poorly managed pain. You will learn what medical stigma is. That treatment is in fact very complex and it could take years before you ever make any positive progress.
- They certainly don’t tell you that coping is a difficult process. A process. Not a thing you achieve and, done, acceptance. It is an endless process that sometimes we do well with and we pick up some great strategies along the way and sometimes we do poorly at because treatment fails up and pain exceeds those coping strategies.
- They don’t tell you that this is your life. That you need to focus on management to achieve the best quality of life you can. That it is important to learn all the strategies you can in addition to medication to help yourself do that.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or you can Text ‘START’ to 741741 in the U.S. Click here for Canadian list.