I was watching the TV show Monk. I was captivated by the friendship and loyalty shown to Monk by the people with whom he used to work.
I used to work in a hospital. There was a sense of kinship and caring that we felt towards one another.
So many times I see posts in support groups talking about the losses someone has sustained because of the pain.
I have lost the ability to use my eyes for any length of time. I miss being able to read a book in one sitting. I miss remembering from one short scanning of a chapter (if I can get that far), until the next time I can pick up the book, who each character is and how they figure into the story.
I am very lucky. Unlike so many with chronic pain, I have not lost physical ability and agility. Getting out of bed, tying my shoes, and making it through the day.
We don’t often talk about the other losses.
I have written about my family abandoning me a long time ago, starting before the pain. I miss having family, but it is not an active loss — as it is for many who still have parents, siblings, cousins, etc., who doubt the validity of their pain.,
I have not been able to work since 1977, when the pain came back after a 3 month hiatus. While I was pain free, I began working in an office and quickly made two wonderful friends. But when the pain returned the three months of friendship were not enough to overcome the “I can’ts” of the pain.
The emotional and social losses that we incur are incalculable. I want, I need the person I can call and say, “Let’s go for coffee.” I had that person but she moved.
Now there is no one, no one who calls and asks, “How are you today?” “Is there anything you need?” Or “Wanna go for coffee?” My inability to get out and about, and work, keeps that from happening.
I found that without work, when I did make friends it was often with one other person whose neediness equaled mine. Maybe it was not from chronic pain, but from disability, social discomfort, or emotional problems.
I recall one friend saying to her father, “Carol and I would never be friends under any other circumstances.” She was absolutely correct. The only thing we had in common was our pain; hers social and psychological, mine physical.
There are people, professionals, who talk about pain being a psychological issue, unresolved childhood conflicts and the like. But trigeminal neuralgia, CRPS, Lupus, etc. don’t happen as the result of psychological problems or emotional turmoil.
Even those who grew up in a Mary Poppins home get these diseases and disorders. They happen, simply, because of physiological processes gone awry.
The turmoil and problems come because of the effect the pain has on our lives.
Certainly our psychological makeup will affect the way we respond to the pain. But it is the losses because of the pain that need to be addressed. They are not just psychological or emotional. They are very real.
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 represent 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.