How Much More Can Any Soul Endure?

How Much More Can Any Soul Endure?

As the news of one climate disaster after another makes headlines around the world, the first question for me is how are these people going to get back on their feet and move forward?

How are those experiencing such devastating personal loss going to find the help they need when so many others are in similar circumstances?

I wonder when and if those affected will ever find the will and resources to realize some degree of normalcy in their lives?

Ellen Lenox Smith

It seems just surreal to even imagine having to pick up the pieces to live life again.

Two summers ago, a former neighbor, who often played with my sons came to visit. We learned that after he had moved to live with his mom in California, their house, along with the entire neighborhood, burned to the ground. Unfortunately, on top losing their home and all their possessions in the fires, two years previously, they still were not able to rebuild due to a lack of personal resources and little help from state agencies. They had to relocate to an area they did not prefer to live in as this was the only area that matched their limited resources. And then a few months after the joy of getting to see him here visiting, we learned that this young man passed, dying quickly from cancer. But he died a hero to his neighbors because due to not being able to sleep due to pain, he heard the call to evacuate that others were sleeping through at four AM, so he ran from house to house to get neighbors out.

As I think about the horrors all these people are facing from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, etc., my thoughts go to how would someone like us, living with medical complications, begin to be able to cope with this level of destruction. The reason I say this is that like you, living with chronic pain and two incurable conditions, just a simple act of not taking needed medication could tip send me into a physical tailspin from which I might not recover. I think about all I do to get through the day - eating correct foods I can metabolize, getting to necessary appointments, treatments, surgeries, being sure I have in stock the correct medications and needing to have electricity. No bi-pap to turn on for me means my body would think I don’t need to take a breath - it is my lifeline that makes sure the air is being taken in and out. How does one begin to cope with all this in conjunction with a damaged or lost home? What happens to you when attempting to live your life you must then deal with no electricity, little to no transportation, treatment centers, pharmacy, for example? The list would go on and on as to what you may lose which is necessary for your very survival given the needed medical support system so critical to living your complicated life.

I try to stay positive, but I am afraid if something like this hit my life, that I may not have the endurance to cope with such overwhelming challenges. We try daily to live with our conditions. We cope with pain, setbacks, heartbreak, loss of so many things we once could do, including loss of friends and the judgment of others, to name a few. So, to have to add a loss of a home and possessions, how would we dig deep enough to cope with all of that?

My heart goes out to those around the world dealing with all these unimaginable tragedies. I truly can’t imagine how those effected coping with these disasters and at the same time living with chronic pain and medical issues that must be addressed, are able to then to sustain their lives. May they find the strength to endure.

May life be kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain- And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website.

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Lost a house due to arson a long time ago. Married 2 kids and renting with out renters insurance. This was prior to disability and was in great shape. If it happened today I would be at home and probably go up with the house. Id be like the guinie pig that died in the fire. Caged and no where to run. Not able to walk much let alone run.

Also, we have Physicians really good at duping the chronic pain patients with a neurological drug used off label for chronic pain to wean people off of opiates. Is a treatment for chronic pain . as the article of doctors being indicted for prescribing nuedexta which is prescribed for Parkinson’s Disease. do not chronic pain people have enough trouble without being screwed up in the head by other medications the are not used for chronic pain . See what I mean about lacking in morals yet they’re the most group looked up to. What a shame

All we have now are Physicians that are brilliant in their talent but stifled. You can already tell how the future generations of Physicians or a Medical personnel have less moral and cold-hearted against their own mankind. We have a you against me atmosphere of survival. It is now survival of the fittest , the most elite. When those in power can turn a blind eye to the suffering of the dying, any man woman or child in pain what does that tell you about the morals of those in power. They have propaganda as if they care (overdose) in which this is been going on for over 50 years if not more. Why start now? It’s all about weeding out population and lining the pockets thru taxes. The Chronic pain people is like being on the raft with a hole being out in the middle of the ocean yet we can see land but don’t have a paddle to get there. And the people on the land stick their heads in the sand. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil this is governing policies.


Dear Ellen,
I just returned home from the hospital, and have found my answer to your question. For those who follow your story that do not have a faith-based life, I am sorry that they may not understand this… I have lived with chronic pain, surgeries, emergencies, etc for 50 years, and finally see what has eluded so many of us: from the moment of our birth we begin to die one cell at a time. None of us can live as long a life as we would like without some kind of pain, so I do not fear death itself. I do fear the panicked-pain response that comes from my aging and ailing body, though. It is my prayer that each person living with chronic pain will be able to ask Jesus for the strength to live each day of the rest of their lives with as much joy as they can, knowing that our frail bodies are just the vessels that carry our souls while we live as mortal beings. I know that when I die my body will be cast aside, pain and all, so that I can live a new life with no pain and no sorrow, in Heaven with God, our Father, Jesus Christ his only son, and with the Holy Spirit who dwells within me. I pray for you, and for every person living in pain, that you will find this answer as I have. May God bless you.


Very well said! I have a group of friends in Australia that have thus far avoided any fire damage! They are helping those affected all they can I’m sure! Communities matter more than we think!


Such a thoughtful presentation, things that Ellen expresses so realistically. Thank you, for being able to find the words and expressions that, I too, think of, and my prayers go out to all the communities that are hurting for so many reasons. Life is looking on the outside, and not be totally consumed with ourselves. We are “mankind”, we must keep putting one foot ahead of the next and make the best of every situation if we are to survive. Thank you, again, Ellen.

Wendy Paley

So true, Ellen. I have been donating money to Australia, Puerto Rico and the Philippines because I am fortunate enough to be able to do so. But I lay on my couch every day with chronic, intractable pain and wonder as you do, how do people cope with these incredible disasters, especially the ones who also have chronic pain. My heart goes out to all of them. It makes me appreciate that at least I have a house and food and pain management. I enjoyed reading all your posts so much. You are an incredibly good writer and a true inspiration for keeping a positive Attitude despite what you have been through! Many hugs to you. May life be kinder to you in the future. You sure Deserve it!

Yes Ellen, it does make one wonder. I have bulging and degenerative discs in my back. Both knees smashed from a car accident and an ankle with two metal screws in it. Four months ago I found out that my entire neck is literally eat up with degenerative disc disease. They want to go in and freeze the nerves. Two weeks before this past Christmas I found myself screaming in the ER because I was in so much pain. Couple hours later I was in emergency surgery. Scar tissue from a 20 year old surgery lead to a bowel obstruction. I was treated anything but kindly upon entering the ER. After they saw what was wrong, they changed their tune. I thought to myself why? Then I remembered the old Bible verse, God will not put more on us than we can bear, (even though sometimes that verse has made me wonder) It took me 53 years to finally realize what God was talking about. It didn’t involve my physical pain just my inner pain. I was helping someone who did not appreciate me at all. They had threatened me to the point where my life literally depended on God. I’m speaking of my stepdad, after he began his evil plans, he lived twelve days. At the time I had a mother who was in the hospital with Alzheimer’s, a brother who truly hated me and a little girl that needed me more than life itself. I literally felt like I was drowning. I had to remind myself of my faith and prayers. Of course my little girl is the love of my life, I don’t stop because I can’t and won’t. I figure there’s a reason for everything. Sometimes we find out why and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it takes a few days and sometimes it takes a lifetime. Even though we chronic pain patients have lived what seems a life of hell for the last several years, we’re still blessed. If someone has a home, one person that truly loves them, one person that truly cares, etc. I do my best not to think “what if.” That would indeed steal my joy. I just cope as life comes and by no means is it easy, just worth it.💖

Tony hardy

You are so right about this, unfortunately most medical professionals don’t care enough to help. Most people look at chronic pain patients as drug addicts. I went to a CVS and a pharmacist called a woman stage 3 lung cancer a drug addict and told her to leave because she didn’t look sick enuff, so she took off her wig and her prosthetic leg and put them on the counter and said “do I look sick enuff now?” The pharmacist was so embarrassed that he still refused to help her and told her to leave the property. It’s sad but this is normal now and it shouldn’t be. But because of fake news and misinformation most people see anyone on pain medication as a nasty drug addict. I wish everyone who is in pain that they never get treated like this, we live in a sad world today and it’s only getting worse. God bless, everyone is in my prayers

Sandy M

Ellen, how kind, thoughtful and true. I can’t imagine going thru anything like that and what a hero your friend was. I’m so sorry to hear about this young man, what a sad story, being so young and the thought of all he had to live thru in his condition. My husband and I have talked of these people who have lost their homes due to these fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other similar situations, being displaced from their homes and having to try to start over.

I don’t think I can put myself in that position, I really don’t think we have any idea of just how difficult all this would be. I think of all the things you mentioned that we suffer, live and go thru each day and thank God I’m 72 years old, suffering from a Thalamic hemorrhage 19 years ago today and the horrific pain syndrome I live with now as a result of that awful stroke; and like you said, all the other surgeries I have lived with before, worked over 35 years for what my husband and I have, which certainly isn’t paid for, raised my family, helped with the grandchildren and can’t imagine the surgeries I have been thru since that time that’s left me Bedridden, would I know or understand without the help of my family or could I live with my back surgeries and all the other surgeries and situations I have been thru.

My heart and prayers go out to this young man’s family and to you for having such a wonderful, kind, loving, suffering friend who put himself in the position he did to help others. Blessings to you for realizing what a hero your friend really was.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are going thru such tragedies.


Jaime Tate

I’ve been without needed pain meds for three years now. I’m on the brink of being homeless I can hardly function let alone work. 4 past failed back surgies plus needing 2 more with an added untreated torn labrum left hip now needs replace 4 years still waiting I’m ready to check out permanently. This has been HELL ON EARTH!! Filled 2 grievances with insurance because I can’t even find a surgeon I’m high risk to them seeing I’ve been taking strong pain meds 2002/2017 forced onto subutex doesn’t help because they see that automatically think addiction. It says clear as day for chronic pain as the reason. I can’t believe this is my reality. The DEA has become my devil. Took away a life that was tolerable made it unbearable. SHAME ON THEM! Can’t even get treated. All of my scans recommend surgery asap. I no longer even have a position that makes the pain better. Sleeping is not even part of my world anymore. I literally can’t tolerate any position more then a cpl minutes laying down because of my back. My hip now needs entire replacement so no longer relief sleeping sitting up I can’t I’m half crazy from lack of sleep so forgive me going on and on. Pray I wake up and this was all just a realistic nightmare. Oh how I wish. Thanks again for taking away my medication cold turkey turning me into what I’ve become. A limping confused crying out in pain depressed soon to be homeless ( can’t hold a job crying in pain ) nothing. AND FOR WHAT??? Overdose rates any better? What did anyone shooting drugs have to do with me????? I can promise they weren’t shooting for chronic pain relief their addicts not pain patients. Take away pain meds from legit pain patients to fix addicts from overdosing? Any change? Yep there’s even more overdose deaths now. Add all the suicides you idiots are causing and I bet the death toll has risen and will keep rising. I swear I think that is what the real outcome they wanted all along. Leave us so desperate we check out. Problem solved!