September is National Pain Awareness Month. Unfortunately, few people seem to know or, honestly, care.
I think the reason for that is simple.
I appreciate the American Chronic Pain Association’s efforts at creating the first Pain Awareness Month in 2001. I just wish they had added the word “chronic”.
Everyone has pain at one time or another. Hit your thumb with a hammer, get a splinter, etc. So do we need more “awareness” of pain? Heck, we are all aware of pain. The minute we do something that results in our being hurt or if we become ill and pain is a symptom, our awareness is awakened.
I regret that the times I asked the Pennsylvania legislature to declare September as Women in Pain Awareness Month it had not occurred to me to use the word “chronic”. The senators I asked were kind enough to unanimously pass the resolution all four times I requested it, but I did not bother this year or last because I could not get anyone to take notice of it. Women are in pain? So what seemed to be the attitude.
Words matter. Especially the word “chronic”.
Many of us have disorders for which there is an awareness day or even a full month. Lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, just for starters.
Often the news media will make mention of these individual days. And yet, when I asked my local boro to go teal for Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day, they said “No. If we do it for you we have to do it for all.”
To me that answer seemed to embody the reaction of many people to these “awareness” days. There are too many of them. People get weary of hearing about these illnesses, which are mostly foreign to them. The weariness, however, seems to disappear when it comes to cancer and other major diseases. Almost everyone knows someone who has them. Or they have it themselves.
The problem is we are weary too. Weary of having pain every day, every hour, every minute.
Whether it is Pain Awareness Month or not, we are aware of chronic pain.
It is up to us to go to the next step.
Now and every day, we have to figure out a way to bring more attention and awareness of chronic pain to those who are not in pain. It is up to us do what other illnesses do not require: Help those who do not know the reality of chronic pain accept and believe that it exists.
Help them understand that those of us living with chronic pain deserve not only awareness and acknowledgement, but kudos for the fight we mount daily against this horrid monster.
Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.” Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.