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Discussing pain levels with loved ones.

I am 69 years old with DDD multiple fusion levels cervical, lumbar and now thoracic. I have MCTD and arthritis, I have hips replacements and coming up knees. I live independently in an over 55 community. My son has become increasingly critical of my constant doctor visits, continuing pain medication and the reason why I am not getting better. I have wanted to spare him the trauma of the details of my health. He is my only child and solely responsible for me and my ultimate care. He knows about the surgeries and treatments, but he has no idea that the chronic pain is debilitating at times or that it will never get better. I get insulted at times when he doesn't take my pain more seriously, but then he doesn't have the whole picture. I am afraid he will want to restrict or discontinue my driving, or provide "residential kind of care". I am embarrassed that I haven't told the whole truth and I don"t know exactly how to remedy the situation. I have always had my boyfriend to care for me after surgery. I will need my son's help with the upcoming surgery. Since you are chronic pain sufferers, I am hoping you will help me know what to tell him without scarring him to death. Thanks Puppymom
Puppy mom


  • My friend had both of her knees replaced a couple of years ago & you're right, you're going to need all the help you can get. If he's a very practicle man you could deal with that by printing out details of the surgery & rehabilitation calendars to go through with him. Do you think he would respond well to that unemotional, direct approach? That will give him clear time lines of when you will need to be driven, have physical assistance etc. but it will also show him that recovery will be a steady step by step process.

    Long term, explaining the whole chronic pain 'thing' is a different matter. I don't know how well any 'normal' can truly understand it, particularly when they're not around 24/7 to see the real toll it takes on us. There are the "Letter to Normals & Spoon Theory" articles. I got my husband to read them. Describing things as "Not having enough spoons" has worked really well for us. He's your son & instinctively protective of you. I completely understand your concerns about residential care & driving. Not being allowed to drive has always been my Dads biggest fear. He's 76 & lives his life to the full. We're fortunate we share the same boat in many ways & explainings not necessary. I'd take it slow & just try to explain things without getting too emotional if you can. Hopefully your upcoming surgery will open his eyes a little. I talk about this forum & discuss other peoples situations. Somehow it's a little easier to talk about other peoples experiences & say "I know exactly how she feels. I'm lucky I've got you. Can you imagine going through that alone?". You know what I mean?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • While I agree that having a discussion with your son is a good idea, I also think that having him accompany you to see your surgeon, to go over the details of the surgery, having the surgeon explain the recovery process to him, and possibly having him also meet your pm doctor to discuss your ongoing legitimate needs for pain treatment are also a good idea.
    Most people think that once someone undergoes surgery, it is a cure to whatever they had surgery for, and in many cases, it is, but when it comes to some surgeries, it is more about stabilizing the condition, not "curing it" and there is a marked difference on what that means post op. Sometimes, having an impartial party explain that to family has far more benefit than us trying to explain it.
  • I try to explain the severity of one of my spots like this..
    Ace wrap a golf ball unto one side of your spine..tightly..bind it so the pressure is utmost at the golf ball, and the band of pressure goes round the chest
    now, sit there at the desk chair all day,
    for years on end..
    they look at me blankly, because they still cant comprehend the nature of the beast.

    its up to them to have a little physical intelligence/a little humanity and a lot of imagination
    tell him the absolute truth, i think he may handle it roughly, then he will understand, as honesty is a sign of trust for and with him
    good luck
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

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