Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Freedom of Less Pain

I don't think people realize how draining pain is until they stop feeling that pain on a constant level.

I've been blogging a bit about my shoulder since I separated it on December 11, 2009. It is now March 3, 21010 and I only now have spent my second virtually pain-free day since the accident. I also can't get over how good I feel.

Chronic pain is a major health problem in North America. Many people live with chronic back pain, but there are others who live with arthritic pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, and just about any type of pain you can think about - and they're expected to get through life each and every day as if they didn't have it.

The problem with pain is that someone else can't see it. If you have a broken leg, people see the cast and can clue in that you're likely not very comfortable. If you've got a visible reason for your pain, it's ok to feel that pain - others expect it. But if you don't have something noticeable that can warn others, then your pain is unexpected and often uncomfortable for others. After all, how can they identify with you if they can't see or understand where the pain is coming from?

How many people who get migraines have heard comments from others about how they have bad headaches, but they find a way to cope. How many people with irritable bowel syndrome get little sympathy from someone who can't understand what if feels like to have it seem like your gut is all twisted and tied in knots? Or the person with back pain who is feeling pretty ok, but makes the wrong move and gets a "zing" in the spine that is strong enough to bring him to his knees?

I have to admit, I was getting very discouraged. I go to physio every single week, never missing one. I follow up the next day with a therapeutic massage - never missing a week. I do my exercises, but my shoulder didn't seem to be getting any better. And worse, it was still hurting. And then, all of a sudden, it was as if a switch had been thrown.

I'm not completely pain-free yet. The shoulder hurts when I do certain movements it doesn't want me to do, but the ever-present pain seems to have gone. I cannot be more grateful for that.

If you don't know what it's like to have constant pain, how do you react when someone else has it? Is it tough for you to understand?

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