It’s Pain Awareness Month

(You can’t tell from this photo, but I was in a lot of pain. But it was a great day! My family and I had enjoyed a fun family outing – which included a couple of hours in the car as well as an hour-plus of walking. And, I got these beautiful sunflowers – my favorite flower! So there were lots of reasons to smile. But my leg h-u-r-t!)

September is Pain Awareness Month.

It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to answer a nurse when he/she asks me, “What’s your pain level like on a scale of 1-10?”. (Just so you know, I don’t ignore the nurse. I simply explain I can no longer answer that question.)

I used to really try to answer. I’d look at the range of faces and short descriptions under the illustrations and try to figure out where I fit on that scale. 

But now I realize there’s no point. My pain level can change from day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute. 

And sometimes, many times, my pain level is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how much pain I’m in. If it’s 3:00 on a weekday, then that means I need to pick up my son from school – regardless of how I feel. It’s non-negotiable. 

I rarely let pain stop me from doing my daily activities. Because if I did, I wouldn’t do anything most days — at least lately. (The pain has been off-the-charts the last few weeks which means more doctors appointments and changes to my medications.)

But also, I wonder what long-term pain does to me — my body and my mind? I’ve been dealing with UCTD since 2010 (even though I didn’t know it was until my diagnosis in 2011). Ten years of pain has to warp your perception of discomfort. A “5” on my scale, I’m sure would be at least a “9” on my husband’s scale. (This may be a very bad generalization, but at least when it comes to my dad and my husband, they are not as pain tolerant as my mom or I.)

Here’s the other thing about pain. Everyone experiences it. In some way, shape, or form, everyone is dealing with something painful. 

When you stop and think about it, that’s a powerful reminder to pause and really try to remember to treat others with compassion and kindness and patience. 

Because you never know what someone is dealing with simply by looking at them.

4 thoughts on “It’s Pain Awareness Month

  1. What a gorgeous photo – I love sunflowers too! 🌻🌻🌻

    I also hate that rating scale. I just find it insulting these days to have to answer it, but for a few different reasons. If you’re answering about your pain generally then you’re right, people can experience fluctuations or they may have various types of pain, so it’s just not that simple to answer. I get asked in A&E when my bowel’s twisted and they want to give me paracetamol (even though IV morphine is written on my notes). You just want to tell them where to shove that scale.

    I love your end point here. You never really know what other people are dealing with, be it in their private life, with their mental health or with invisible conditions like pain.

    Caz xx

    Like

    • Thank you, Caz, for reading and for your comment!
      If I have gained anything as a result of living with a chronic illness, I think I have a greater level of patience and compassion. Things aren’t always as they appear – everyone is walking around with pain of some sort.

      Like

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I too find it impossible to rank my pain and mental health. (Did you know some doctor’s will ask you to rank your mental illness symptoms from one to ten?) And I also appreciated your last paragraph. Whenever someone I don’t know does something that I find instantly frustrating, I try to ask myself, “why?” Why are they doing it, and why do I find it so annoying? There could be disabilities in play on both side.

    Like

    • Hi Julie, thank you for reading and for commenting! I appreciate it. One thing I have gained from living with a chronic illness is the understanding that you really don’t know the whole story about someone just by looking at them. Everyone really is dealing with something.

      Liked by 1 person

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