I am a chronic pain sufferer, and have been for the past four years. I consider myself lucky most of the time, comparing my pain threshold with those of my fellow sufferers. I know that pain-free is no longer an option, though I admit it took me some time to accept this.
I was on vacation last week with my family and we went to a small restaurant, up a flight of stairs. I gripped the hand rail on my right, yet I still couldn’t move. I reached my left arm to find the left hand rail and I tried to move. Nothing happened. This is how some people live all the time, this is a limitation, this is an awareness that made me think of other sufferers. People in wheel chairs, people with a disability, and less so, people like me. I remember that the steel handrails were cold, and I remember not being able to get up those stairs. Luckily, my husband gave me a push up and I made it up one uncomfortable step. It took a moment for me to get up another step and when I was finally up the six steps, I was weary and tired, and every bone in my body hurt.
It was not attention I was seeking nor was it the awareness of myself feeling weak. I thought of other people who have much more pain than have. I also felt bad for people who didn’t have a loving husband/partner to help them up from the rear. I understood, in those few minutes of time, what it felt like to be physically disabled but more aware of this disability for people who have to do this every time they think about taking a step.
I appreciated sitting down at the table though I felt a bit unsteady. I remembered to drink, a sweet refreshing fruit juice drink that lifted my spirits, and of course, my sugar intake. I made it up those stairs all the while thinking of how I was going to get down. I had no choice in this situation, I knew I would have to do it and I did. I felt grateful for the awareness of my limitations in comparison to others. Those of us with chronic pain do not have a wheelchair to use for a clue to the outside world, or a cane to show others are limitations. We live in silent awareness and while we understand each other, it is hard for outsiders to understand. We are the invisible victims of pain, of suffering and only with communicating with other people, one by one will we get our message known.
Pain is pain, we all feel it, we all deal with it the best way we know how. In our hearts, we should acknowledge those with more pain, it doesn’t lessen our own pain, but it emphasizes our commitment for understanding and awareness and most importantly, our acceptance and empathy for others.