I have this neat piece of art in my living room.
Look at it straight on and it is a drawing of a kid jumping rope.
Look at it from the right side and it is a kid making a long jump.
Look from the left and it is a kid playing soccer.
Looking at it yesterday I realized it makes a statement about life with pain, or life in general, for that matter.
Inside ourselves, our lives change – dramatically – the moment the pain starts. We know how it feels and, as it continues, how much we have lost and how much our struggle to live costs us, in energy and in so many other ways.
To family and friends, sometimes even strangers, the effect is different. If we are lucky, they “see” our pain, in terms of understanding it. They listen, comprehend what we are dealing with, and how much we need them to be there for us. They are there for us.
If they cannot or will not see it, they can make our lives more miserable and isolated than even the pain does.
The medical professions, doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, therapists and others have a choice. They can believe us: “The pain is invisible but your pain and you are not. I will work to help you every way I know how.”
They can also go the other way: “You say you have pain but you don’t look or act like what I expect from someone in pain, so I choose not to believe you.”
It falls to us to juggle all these folks.
The fight within us to accept and to persevere is almost involuntary. The people who accept us, our war against the pain, and our disabilities are treasures.
Those who refuse to accept become an obstruction about which we need to make a choice. Do we persist in trying to break their refusal? Or do we accept it and move on?
Medical care requires the same decision. It is sometimes hard to leave a doctor or therapist, even when their ability to help us is long gone. It can even be hard when it is obvious they disbelieve us or treat us brusquely. Sometimes the enemy we know is better than the one we don’t.
I look at that picture in my living room. The first time I saw it I had no idea that looking at from a different angle could change everything. Once I did it was hard to go back to seeing only one perspective.
We as pain patients need to keep this idea in mind. We do not have to capitulate or accept anything because “that is the way it is.”
Once we do, the status quo can become the status changed, or better yet, the status gone.
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.