If They Could Do It, So Can I

If They Could Do It, So Can I

As a member of the human race, fear of the unknown may be one of the most anxiety provoking challenge to our emotional sense of well-being. Have you ever been in a circumstance where you suddenly wonder how you are going manage a challenge? There are elements which you may hear, as you possess no prior experience in dealing with this new circumstance. Also, as in the case of extreme or chronic physical pain, it clearly presents a potential threat to your physical and emotional health. It is natural to question your capacity to manage such challenges due to the fear of the unknown. I can remember when I was pregnant with our first son. At first, the experience was magical! However, as the abdomen kept growing to the point towards the end of the pregnancy, that I was able to rest a puppy on my belly, I started to get worried, how would I possibly get this baby out of my relatively small body? And then that thought came to me that the human population has managed the experience of giving birth and in many cases, more than once. Focusing on this idea did serve to calm my nerves down, if others could do this through the years, then I could do it too.

This may sound very simplistic, but an example on how it has provided me comfort for years has been with facing surgeries and two incurable conditions that bring on pain, isolation, losses and massive changes in life. Too many times, fear has begun to enter my soul and then I remind myself that so many have lived life before me, been brave and somehow have made it through their situations more challenging than mine, without becoming victims of their unfortunate circumstances.

Ellen Lenox Smith

As I observe the others around me dealing with chronic painful issues, I am in awe of the bravery and determination of many. The human soul can be amazing. If we dig deep enough, we can, with the necessary human support, find strength that we did not realize we possess. Too many times, the news we watch is about such negative events happening in society. I find when I hear something positive in the news, it fills me up with hope and feeds that determination to try to stay positive. Can you imagine how helpful and encouraging it would be for more awareness of the brave people who take seemingly overwhelming obstacles in life, yet have still found a way to accept their losses and still be grateful for the gifts life still offers them?

The same applies with raising children that arrive without directions! We take on all types of trials and tribulations. Sometimes our plans work out well and other times, we must redesign our plan of attack dealing with illness, personality issues, friendships that might be having a negative effect, etc. Again, I find comfort realizing all parents have had to experience issues like this and have somehow found a resolution.

And how about a loss in your life of someone you so adore and miss? This is yet another example of learning to somehow address the horrible emotions and find comfort in looking around you. One needs to remind themselves that man has always had to deal with loss and somehow many people have found their way back reducing disabling emotional damage in their lives

I only wish my parents were alive today to be able to commend them on their strength and courage they demonstrated in the process of aging. It is so hard to feel the gradual changes and the losses that come as one ages. Aging can bring on isolation, loneliness, and often dramatic life adjustments that have to be made, sometimes including the loss of control on situations you once could handle. Instead, we have to learn to lean on others. The erosion of our capacity to function independently naturally diminishers. And yet, each person that moves forward in age also has to go through this process.

Attitudes are such a huge element in our sense of well-being. I understand that it is truly easier to just give up and not fight when so much of your life experience may feel overwhelming. However, finding purpose and meaning is so helpful to learning to stop being just the victim and learning to live this new life, despite more complications and losses. And when you, too, wonder how you cope - remember - those before us have done it - so, so can we!

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.

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. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/

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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. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/

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Adam halstead

This manufactured opioid epidemic will absolutely by design bring people down to their knees maybe even lower. The most important thing is that all of us stand united because unity brings so much strength and if harnessed properly might be our only hope if any exists..Anybody oriented in reality sees the situation of us who need our pain medication restored as desperate as it gets as well as dire and grim. People are suffering, dying, losing their sanity ect. Some posts you read obviously come from poor souls who are losing sanity and every day it gets worse. This will bring out the worst and best in people.. I have written and written, pleaded and begged politicians ect..I have realized they dont give a damn and we are merely complications and problems to those who WE elected. Drs have been arrested for being involved on sex for pain medication rings..IF true they deserve something I cant post here. Imagine 37 drs were arrested a couple days ago..how many poor souls with legit pain will be directed to the nearest rehab of self righteous narcissistic anti opioid crusaders? I hate all those responsible for us all enduring this [edit]..Im a Christian but Im no weakling or no fool. I am angry and want revenge..

Stacie Wagner

Thomas Wayne Kidd I appreciate your faith in a higher power. I also pray you don’t have a crisis of faith when you know God isn’t getting your prayers. I truly pray that doesn’t happen. In my opinion I don’t get God allowing me to be in the pain I am in.
I know I struggle with my own faith because I know I would never allow my own child to hurt like I do. I would kill them to save them this hell. I know my love could not be as great as God’s love and I would never allow my child this pain. If my dog was dying of cancer I would have the dog euthanized. That is love. And if Gods love is perfect then God should love each of us enough to end our suffering when it reaches a certain point.

Stacie Wagner

I’m a chronic pain patient and I appreciate your optimistic outlook. I however no longer have optimismism I am alive but have no life. I live in my bed, all day every day in excruciating pain.
No I now believe that if I cannot have the medication I need to have a semblance of a life then I deserve to die with some dignity!!! I also refuse to feel guilty about it.
I’m glad you have your motivation. I hope you have a wonderful life. I am over this fight for my dignity, pride and right to a life that my pain doesn’t ontrol. I am not an addict.Nor am I depressed I am excited that there is a solution to my pain that no one else has control over. I don’t believe all of the hype around the ” opiate crisis. If these groups really wanted to save the lives of those overdosing on opiates they would offer free test kits for the addicts to check their shots. Make marcam available for anyone. Open some free drug rehabilitation centers. And supplement with medication available for addicts. These things are the only thing that reduce overdose. This has been researched repeatedly. The opiate overdose may be down but drug overdose is not. This is also well documented in the statistics from many states.
The only ones being hurt by these rules are the doctors that prescribe the medication and those that are in chronic pain.
I’m not looking for attention about my choice, I’m not the only one that has made this choice. We are in a pickle of 1. do without and suffer through hell, 2. Go to the streets and get illegal drugs 3. Take ourselves out of this equation. I personally will not live with option 1 or 2. I really hope that you have an ability to suffer and not lose your soul! Please see a therapist. It helps.
However I also feel as if there shouldn’t be guilt about death with dignity.
Guilt free in me! Blessed be 🙏

Tina Block

What happens when your husband of 40 years does not support you . My pain at times is unbearable and I am not aloud to speak of being in pain around him, don’t get me wrong as far as husbands go I hit the lottery but as soon as I was diagnosed with chronic back pain ,Degenerative Disease, something happened in him that unlocked a mean and closed minded for lack of a better word A…Hole. I have gone through this all alone and it hurts. The only people I can talk to is the ones at the doctors office.My husband will not as he refuses to even look up my condition on line. Surgery is not an option according to the experts. So everyday I find myself alone and in pain and those two things should never go together…

Terri James

Dearest Ellen,
I’m sorry you’ve been picked to pieces by “trying” to lift our spirits. There are days I comment when I have taken my medicine and days when I have not. I often comment early in the morning just as soon as a story comes out, then there are the few times I wait. I’m glad I waited with your story. There are times, many times that I put our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ first and foremost in my comments and then there are times I don’t. Anyone who reads the national pain report on a regular basis knows all too well that even a hug can put you in grave danger. I thank you for “trying” to help lift our spirits. Some look at the glass half-full when others look at it half empty. It gets old reading bad news everyday, sitting on the edge waiting and wondering even though one says their prayers and lives on faith. When I read a story of hope versus bad news it makes the day a little brighter. It’s a sad day when one “tries” to make others feel better only to get beaten down worse than one already is. I’ve been there more times than I can count. Darned if you do and darned if you don’t, so to speak. As you always tell us, today I tell you, may life be kind to you. May God bless you and continue to give you the miracles you so desperately need; as well as the rest of us.💞

Robert Gripp

I couldn’t help but notice what I believe to be a fundamental flaw with this authors logic. She no doubt intended only to help by her observations but I believe the inference to accept your fate and move on is wrong-headed.Observing how others’ have managed to cope with various hardships in life may no doubt allow similarly situated people facing these hardships to find ways to help them also cope but to conclude that just because others have experienced similar hardships somehow automatically makes it more palatable is wrong.

Think about it. Just because others had been slaves and managed to live through it doesn’t mean that being a slave will be easier for someone. People survived horrible atrocities under Nazi Germany but few would argue that living through a similar condition would somehow be made better by knowing this fact.

Our focus must be on change that helps people cope rather than asking them to accept their plight. We have just begun to fight and fight we must to find answers to our plight.


If I may say a few words in response to Mr. Thomas Kidd’s post here: Amen!! Without Jesus Christ, I cannot imagine dealing with chronic pain and all the related issues that untreated or undertreated pain brings. I’m in a constant conversation with the Lord of my life every day. I would be so lost on so many levels were it not for the relationship I have with the Lord! I was saved at age 24 (I’m 63 now), but my walk with the Lord these 40 years has matured wonderfully and expectantly. Just the other day, while reading an article about a Christian woman who has endured many hardships, I became acutely aware of my own life and my own battles; it hit me hard that this ongoing battle with pain that I face today and every day was actually allowed by God. In knowing that God is in control, and knowing that He allows satan to go “this far but no farther,” I began to see my pain in a relatively whole new light.

God is using this battle to teach me patience and real gratitude, for starters. He has allowed my suffering to a degree that drove me back to the Bible (far and away above all else); and articles and books that were most helpful to me in this stage of life and season of illness.

God works in mysterious ways, to use an oft-overused statement. But it’s true. One only has to look at what was accomplished on the Cross — how the suffering and pain of the whole world was inflicted on an innocent, sinless God-man, Who three days later would arise and prove satan the liar and loser that he is.

I thank God for the chronicles of pain warriors like Ellen, like Mr. Kidd, like all of you who write here, baring your souls to all; and in doing so, receive the gift of better understanding what drives us to reach out, to touch each other while the world either looks away or doubles down on its intent to make us suffer all the more.

One day Jesus is returning for His bride. We think we’re in pain now! If you haven’t yet received His pardon, don’t put it off. Amen.


Ellen I have read many of your Articals you have written for NPR and I could relate to alot you said.I admire your strength,courage ,determination and your postive attitude.For me personally I want to try and stop stewing and have a more positive attitude especially with those around me who do not understand what living with Chronic Pain is and I don’t wish it on anyone. My medication has been reduced like many others on here and alot are cut off cold Turkey now I’m spending more time in bed like so many.My Friends the few left don’t understand why I have to keep turning down invitations they just don’t seem to get that chronic pain doesn’t take a break .I am also not looking for their or anyone’s sympothy ,just understanding would be nice.I get tired of hearing them say the same thing over and over which is get it together your only in your 40s your missing out! I know others can relate to this.Anyway I pray for all those suffering and Ellen Thank you so much for taken the time to write this! You are an inspiration to myself and many others. Thankfully all of us CPP have the NPR to vent and we are not alone in this.Wishing you all the happiness life has to offer! PS.Now I’m gonna make it a point to read this to remind myself like you said those before us have done this,so can we when I start getting negative as I know there is always someone suffering worse than me I will keep this Artical as a reminder when my Negativity comes out as a way to regroup my thoughts.

Ellen Lenox Smith

Pamela - I am sorry but do not understand what you are referring to - did I have my pain meds when written - your point is what?
Also - “I’m also saying doesn’t sound like chronic pain and how lucky you are that moving forward has arrived and at such a shaming expensive stressful time with pain issues” Again do not understand what you are trying to say to me. I live with two incurable conditions and pain is part of my life - so not sure what you are suggesting - sorry

Although I understand what you are talking about, I have a hard time sharing your courage to continue to live with this pain day in and day out as their is proof that others have felt the same with the increase in suicides in pain patients.
Many of us have been on high dose narcotics for many years. Most have been forced to taper to a point that many are so consumed with pain that we can barely get through the day. Knowing their is no cure but medication that helps but we can no longer get is a form of torture! We are being killed by the lack of medical care. Take medications away that would increase peoples pain or even kill them;they would never dream of doing this; well that is except for opioids!
What good does it do to put on this brave face that is killing us! Say it like it is for all to see and hear. More people would care if they had to deal with undescribable pain 24/7 except for maybe our government! Our logo should be that of the photo scream!

Kirby Accardo

I hate to somewhat disagree as I’m sure the intention was to provide a means to lift up a persons spirit. However, when your pain is still uncontrolled the only thing you can focus on is just that pain. My body is racked with pain. I suffer from my head to my feet and all in between. I try to move forward everyday looking for help dealing with this pain. I can’t afford the luxury of looking back on what others have done in my situation. I feel discourage when each physician I turn to for help can’t help me. I do find support from the pain community via social media but in my day to day existence of living with this pain not so much. When living with 24/7 pain it is most difficult to focus on anything other than relief. If I were to accept the idea that there are those who came before me who managed to live the same life in peace and acceptance I would be living a lie as this pain provides no comfort in life.

I pray that all who read this find a means to relief from your constant painful battle.

Pamela Kay Russell

I read and do completely relate
I’m also saying doesn’t sound like chronic pain and how lucky you are that moving forward has arrived and at such a shaming expensive stressful time with pain issues
I don’t want to sound abrupt texting very tough (did you have your pain meds when this written???
Either way remember(lest we forget) for empathetic compassionate lifestyle communities that uplift and make a person better, no matter how weak they may be.
We can not truly know some one else’s experiences or how they feel


It seems to me like we need some kind of yardstick or maybe that is just it there isnt one. One person might have a stable pain state that can be dealt with at 90 mme. Another may have an unpassable kidney stone and no prescriber. One can live to 95 but others are gone at 35. I am just saying for everyone Mr good humor helps but for some the government mandate is fatally flawed. I always love and admire your strength and courage. Thank you Ellen! Lets just all make sure we have the ultimate healer inside us whatever we are facing. Hugs.


I’ve been wondering how are all the NFL, Baseball, ect players dealing with ongoing injury will be able to exceed 100, 200, 300 400 mme with these guidelines, are they exempt?

Thomas Wayne Kidd

You are correct in the fact that we are not the first to go through such things. But I noticed that not one word was mentioned above Jesus Christ and our faith in His sacrifice for our sins and infirmities. He was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53). I have suffered for 30+ years and without His Spirit living in my heart I would not be here. If you’re not a born again Child of The King I would recommend Him to you. “Come unto Me, all ye labour and are and heavy laden and I give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.(Matt. 11:28,29,30). He is regardless of what millions say, The Hope of the world. Think of these words. His promises in His Words have sustained me to this day. I am soon to be 67 years old. In His grace. Thomas Kidd.