By: Michaela O’Connor
There’s a saying in the chronic pain community, “whoever said no pain, no gain never had chronic pain.” At first, I fully and whole-heartedly agreed with the quote. As a chronic pain patient, I could not see anything I had gained from the constant pain I lived with. I saw this quote again more recently and realized that it was no longer true, at least, not for me. I still understand the meaning of the quote and the endless desire to live without pain; however, I also understand how much I have gained over the past fourteen years, in spite of my pain.
By: Brandy Garcia
At 16 years old I had no idea that I would be battling chronic pain for more than 10 years. At that point, my migraine headaches were just annoying and bothered me when I wanted to have fun. Little did I know I was in for a battle of a lifetime with my pain and mental health. I spent years fighting the idea of the disease rather than treating it. The stereotype of a sick person was stuck in my head and ruled my life for so long.
By: Erin Adair
In honor of Pain Awareness Month, I want to tell you a little bit about what it is like to be me. I’ll try to be unvarnished, yet not too harsh in the truth of it. In my daily life, I try to be upbeat and as positive a person as I can be but at times life can be overwhelming and it can show through. If some of this seems uncharacteristic of me to those of you who know me well… that may be why and now you can know me a bit better and get, as they say, a peek behind the curtain.
By: Ellen Lenox Smith
When life is moving forward, discovering you have been diagnosed with a condition that will be with you forever and permanently change the course of your life is heartbreaking and overwhelming. It took me over a year to begin to put the broken pieces of my puzzle into some formation that began to recreate purpose and meaning, but the journey was heartbreaking and hard.
I have had 25 surgeries, nine catatonic episodes prior to my second neck fusion, and spent four years in a wheelchair. And yet, I am happy and grateful for the life I have now. The transition one goes through to get to acceptance and not give up, is not easy. However, the time you put into redefining yourself is so worth it.
By: Brandy Garcia
Finding health care providers that understand chronic pain can be daunting. I started having head pain when I was a teenager, it took me over ten years to find providers that I trust. I have now been with my neurologist for 11 years. The process was not easy, for many reasons, but the hardest part was going without help until I found someone who listened to me.
It feels like I have had head pain my entire life but I remember it started to affect my daily life when I was in high school. I had migraines that kept me in bed for days or headaches that lasted for a week straight. Every year my parents would tell my doctor about the pain, only to hear it was due to my menstruation. It was not until I began having terrible jaw pain that the doctor became concerned. She still did not believe I had significant head pain but began testing my heart and lungs. After my heart and lung test got an all-clear, it took about 3 years to get referred to a neurologist.
By: Brandy Garcia
My children, husband, and I have been living with chronic migraine for over 10 years. I am the one diagnosed with chronic migraine, but my disease affects everyone in my home. I always knew my pain affected my daily life, what I did not know was how much it impacted my husband and children. Sometimes my pain is so severe that I cannot even think about another human nevermind recognize what it is doing to them. Witnessing my husband suffer from a migraine turned my view of the disease around. It was not until this moment that I was able to comprehend how my migraine disease affects my family.
How the buzzword “catastrophizing” stigmatizes people with chronic pain
By Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW
The first time I heard the word “catastrophizing” being used to describe the pain experience on a national level was at a chronic pain lecture at the National Institutes of Health. It sent shivers through my body.
After 25 years of living with chronic pain and 20 years working with the pain community as a clinical social worker, I have become an expert in the field and what it takes to fight to take back your life from intolerable, daily pain while creating a quality of life. I was horrified at the use of this pejorative word and voiced my reaction.
By: Michaela O’Connor
So many people with chronic illness look back at their lives prior to their illnesses with such nostalgia, pride, and infallibility. It is as if their lives were the picture of perfection with nothing and no one to hold them back. They forget the embarrassments, shortcomings, and utter failures they previously experienced. In their eyes, the moment that their pain began was the moment their lives of perfection ended. In the 14 years since my trigeminal neuralgia began, I am extremely guilty of looking back at my “flawless” life and praying for the pain to end so I can return to that perfect life.
By Ellen Lenox Smith
It sure would be easier to be home isolating with the consistent sun shining down. Instead, here we go again with another day of mist, rain, or clouds. Here on the East Coast, the weather we have had to cope with has included only a few sunny days since the pandemic. When the sun hits, the world seems safe, beautiful, and full of hope.
When the weather switches back, hope is harder to hold onto, and the emotions seem to dip.
By Michele Rice
My sisters and I pulled the large round rug our grandma had crocheted for us as close to the TV as we could get away with. It was winter and cold in our family room, but we didn’t notice as we huddled together, fidgeting with excitement waiting for the commercials to end and our movie to start. Yes, this was before there were VCRs, Netflix, and other viewing options, and we were forced to watch commercials. This was also years before a slip and fall would lead to the end of my teaching career and send me on a journey to find a way to live a happy life, despite having severe chronic pain.