Living with chronic pain can and does put stress on everyone who is close to the patient who is suffering. So much is spent on the subject of the person in pain, but there are others that suffering also. They may not be suffering in physical pain, but that’s not the only pain.
When you are in constant pain, so many times, that is the only thing that you think about. You are pre-occupied with this pain and what can be done to control and reduce it. While we are doing this, it is so easy to ‘forget’ about the others, our loved ones.
I think most of us can understand the term ‘caretaker’ when it comes to watching over the elderly. But it really is no that much different when it comes to the chronic pain patient.
We have our schedules, the medications, the exercises, the do’s , the don’ts , and this list could go on and on. Who manages all of this? And who has to deal with all of this?
I know personally, when I was at the worst times in my spinal career, I couldn’t care about tomorrow, I was just consumed with getting through the day. That could me, lying down, ice/heat, my medications, etc. Everything else almost became a blur.
Now our spouse/family sits by and watches this. They see us in constant pain, but they also see is looking for more, looking for help or with some, retreating within themselves. Either way, that creates a strain on them. While they can not feel you physical pain, they can feel their own pain knowing that you are hurting , you are in pain, and that there is not much they can do to eliminate all of this. For some, that could be almost a sign of failure.
But, do we as the chronic pain patient look at it this way?
When do we say thank you? And when do we show it? Words are easy, actions take a bit more.
Sure, I’ve read so many posts about us, the patient feeling that they are a burden to others. I don’t believe that is true. In my own personal situation, my wife would do anything to help me, but she would also say that the only time I was a burden is when I failed to comply with the things I needed to do. That could be medication control, diet control, exercise control, or doing too much.
For me that would be watching myself to avoid flare ups. It was like a catch-22 situation. I felt bad that so much was placed on the shoulders of my wife and my family. So what I did is go beyond what I should have been doing , wind up causing a flare up, which in turn placed more burden on everyone else.
It took me a number of years to figure this all out. But, I believe, it is us, the patient who has the easier job in a relationship. We get the pain medications, we get the attention, what do our loved ones really get?
We owe so much to our loved ones, just please try to make sure you show them that!
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences