By: Nina Torres

In 2016, I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome. I was diagnosed at 24 years old; however, I have felt this pain since childhood. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder illness that affects 3-6% of women in the United States. It also affects men but is often mistaken for another illness. According to the CDC, 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain patients are often overlooked, which causes distrust in the health care system. Chronic pain is widely underfunded, undertreated, and misunderstood. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that consists of recurring pain, urinary urgency, and frequency.

Read More

By: Ellen Lenox Smith

We are all coping with different issues as a result of the pandemic. These issues range from housing and living situations, reduction or loss of employment, child care, education with some experiencing virtual learning, financial issues, and isolation from family and friends while attempting to remain safe. However, those of us also living with chronic pain have to add this coping to our list.

Read More

No pain, no gain

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

A day in the life

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.

Read More

Finding your way back

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More