September is Pain Awareness Month, so this invisible pain sufferer is heralding awareness to y’all that chronic pain is not fake news nor alternative fact.
According to research provided by John Hopkins University economists, chronic pain cost the US as much as $635 billion in 2012; that’s more than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease COMBINED in one year. This statistic dropped my jaw.
Chronic pain is real and often gets overshadowed. And in the case of fibromyalgia, from which I suffer, some people in this world choose to believe that it isn’t real, it exists in sufferers’ heads, and/or we make it worse for ourselves.
Mrs. Ram owns every glorious facet of her portrayed and contained crazy, but she is a rational, educated Homo sapien sapien and has ample cognitive capacity to recognize her pain is real–as well as a medical diagnosis and medical fact to prove it. Choosing to eschew medical fact over personal beliefs about someone else’s pain is delusional. Why demean someone else’s pain?
I am not writing this to vehemently complain about my widespread body woes.
I am writing this to help normalize chronic pain in society.
I am writing this to help end strangers’, friends’, and even family members’ verbal and silent shaming of sufferers who battle it everyday. (Thankfully, my family is very understanding.)
I am doing this in an attempt to stop shaming myself.
Yes, I shame myself for having a chronic pain disease.
You would too if you had one like fibromyalgia.
Some days it hurts to have clothes on. Some days it takes me three hours to recover from a shower. Some days it’s pins and needles, stabbing and spasms, or sweats and chills. Some days my right side doesn’t do what I ask of it, or I’m off-balance and dizzy. Interrupted sleep plays a big role in function, too. Don’t forget the anxiety or the fibro fog. Some days it’s none of the above, one or five of the above, or every damn one.
To top it all off, I’m overwhelmingly sensitive to heat, cold, sounds, smells, food, and medicine. Yes, this is part of the disease, too. I can’t take most medicines to help treat my disease because it throws my other troublesome chronic pain culprits (IBS and Raynaud’s) into a two-year-old style induced hissy fit. Frequently, sensitivity blends into blatant intolerance and vengeful malaise ensues.
Some days fibromyalgia is debilitating. Some days I’m borderline non-functional. Most days I can dab, whip, and nae nae through the background music of pain, and some days I feel wonderful.
This doesn’t begin to eclipse everything that’s attributed to my disease or anyone else’s version of fibromyalgia. Fibro varies from person to person.
Sometimes I can handle everything on my daily docket, and sometimes I stay home and miss out on scheduled activities. And sometimes, not all the time, people don’t understand why.
It is not just nausea, sweats, stomach aches, moderate fatigue, or insert the name of any other symptom here. When I end up saying no or backing out, I am either already in an extreme amount of pain or know that going will push me there.
It is not normal pain, and some people just don’t understand.
Are you starting to see why I shame myself?
As a sufferer of invisible illness, it feels like most empathy in this world is reserved for accidents, murders, life-threatening illnesses, or the terminal cases.
Society’s way of saying, “Hey Chronic Pain Sufferer, you have no risk of dying, so we can only empathize with the most traumatic, shattering aspects of the world’s chaotic crosshairs.”
Society’s apathy contaminates sufferers own views of their diseases because sufferers empathize with more tragic plights in this world: hurricanes, poverty, famine, and other chronic national and global issues. But that does not make our daily pain less or less real.
Irma’s threatening Florida, and here Mrs. Ram jams about chronic pain. What an ass (instead of ram?) I am. That’s my point. Chronic pain will always be overshadowed by disasters or accidents more devastating.
Empathy is not a finite resource. Understanding works just like love. This world deserves more of both.
Chronic pain will remain invisible if sufferers don’t raise their voices, and I refuse to remain silent.
American Pain Society. “Chronic pain costs U.S. up to $635 billion, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911091100.htm>.