The Injustice of Multiple Chronic Issues

The Injustice of Multiple Chronic Issues

By Liza Zoellick.

Dealing with one chronic issue is enough, but many of us struggle with two or more chronic issues. I am one of those people and it often feels overwhelming. It can also make a situation where you are already wondering, “Why me?” feel even more despairing. It can also make some people more inclined to feel as though their situation is somehow worse than the person only dealing with one or even two issues. I have seen this on many social media groups for chronic illness/pain and have watched as people from both sides, if you will, and also male and female, be reduced to this childish argument over who hurts more or who is in worse shape. I am here to tell you that we’re all in the same boat of injustice, where we are the lucky winners of chronic illness/pain for probably, a lifetime. It does absolutely no good to anyone, to argue about it.

The Snowball Effect of Chronic Illness

Liza Zoellick

The majority of my life I have dealt with some chronic conditions, like asthma and bipolar, as I shared with you in my previous post, Chronic Pain Un-Filtered. However, these issues were, for the most part, well controlled and it never weighed on me the way my current situation does. In the beginning, what started out as hip and back pain seemed to snowball into this overwhelming list of issues that was accompanied by an even bigger list of medications. I remember distinctly feeling like “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” I felt like I was a relatively good person in the grand scheme of things and actually contemplated some reasons for my ill-health as my not being Christian or having neglected myself over the years with diet and exercise. But these are no more valid reasons for why I have some of these chronic issues than it would be to say that hurricane Harvey was the result of people’s diminished belief in God or some decline in morals over the years. I am not altogether certain why I have so many chronic health issues, but I do and what is important for my future health is not to place blame on myself and something I failed to do, but try to do things which will improve my quality of life for the future.

My Chronic Illness is Worse than Yours

I’m sure when you read this you will hear how silly this is but I think some of us and me included, have felt like this at one time or another. Now to be fair, there are some chronic issues that are worse. They can inflict more pain in someone than another person or require far more hospital visits or doctor visits, but even pain is relative and while one person may feel pain on a 3 level, another person might feel the same as a 7 level. Which then only leaves the argument of doctors and hospital visits, and because there are multiple chronic issues going on, you have the potential for all sorts of problems. Medication interactions that might be bad, flares that can stress on the body of a patient with multiple chronic illnesses and which might wreak havoc with other issues. Ultimately, this argument is moot. Even though we might share one, two or three chronic conditions, we are not the same. Which is why one treatment may work for your friend who has the same chronic illness but may not work on you. I think it is imperative for us to stick together. In solidarity, we have a better chance at bringing to light chronic issues and perhaps encouraging even more research. In solidarity on social media and groups for people with chronic issues, we can show one another support and raise each other’s spirits rather than breaking them down.

Moving Beyond the Personal Injustice

I want to stress here that we are all human. There are going to be days when we feel angry and sad and betrayed by our bodies. There is no getting around that and I am not here on some high horse to say that I never feel like it is unfair that I have multiple chronic issues. I probably feel that way at least once a week and maybe more when it gets really bad. But the important thing is to recognize it and give yourself reasons to get past it. No one ever said life was easy. No one ever said it was going to be sun-shine and roses all the time. I think the very nature of being human is very, very difficult and we are always going to find ourselves in difficult situations where our spirit and our ability to be compassionate is put to the test. I think what is important is that we strive to keep going even when we feel diminished and defeated and that we try to extend our compassion and understanding to those going through similar things. I also feel that when we do these things we feel the effects just as readily as when you give someone a hug and it makes you feel better too.

Liza Zoellick lives in Houston. She is a delegate of the International Pain Foundation. You can follow her writing and follow her on Twitter @fibrohippiechic

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Hi I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, I have had 3 major back surgeries 4 knee surgeries, one knee replacement and I have spinal stenosis of my neck and back. I have been in pain since the age of 12. I am now 54. I have been in pain management since 1999. Currently my bone in my clavicle pops out and I have these excruciating spasms that brings me to my knees, if I turn or try to use my arms. I am on Oxycontin and Roxicodone. It helps me get around some. My dr recently accused me of taking Hydrocodone and Methadone and Dr shopping. I take Unisom nightly to try in go to sleep, I also take Advil. Aleve and have recently been given antibiotics 500 mg of Keflex times 1 week. I am allergic to Vicodin and if I had of taken it I would have been at the hosp because I am allergic to it. This Dr obtained me from another Dr whose office lied on me. I was in the hosp and I told the Drs that were working with me and my surgery all about my pain pills and the Dr that I was seeing to manage that pain. Upon discharge the nurse handed me 4 prescriptions in which 2 were the very same ones that my pain Dr already had given me. I called them on the way home from the hosp to advise them that the Dr that did the surgery gave me a script of the same that they had already given me. I told them that I was not going to fill it and will save it for my next appt to destroy. At the time one of the Drs that worked with my pain Dr was starting out with his own business. They needed to have some reason to get me to leave the one that I was with and have me go to the new dr that was leaving that office. so they lied and said that since I got the scripts from the hosp that I was doctor shopping. HUH? I advised the whole group both sides what the other was doing. They gave me a letter stating that I could go and see the new Dr with the new practice. I was a gift to him because I was a cash pay. I ended up going to him because I felt that he knew my history from working with the other Dr. I stayed with him for two years. If I had done what they said why would he take me for a pt x 2 years? A year and a half passed and he wanted all of his patients to be seen every month. I was on every 2. I asked If I could remain on 2 and he said yes. I live over an hr away and I could not afford to see him every month because he charges 300.00 per month. In August of this… Read more »

Jim Moulton

Good article, tonight I’m stuck at my apt ,because my back has been hurting, many issues with it, cervical and spinal stenosis, and now scoliosis. Going to try to make the best of it.

Thank you for the comments left. It is not difficult to see that this article definitely touched a chord in many people. @Ibin, there is certainly nothing to apologise for. I am quite angry too, that medicine has become less about treating and more about our physicians worrying about how to treat patients in their care, lest they get their license revoked or find themselves under scrutiny. I made the decision some weeks ago that I would devote my time and energy to bringing these concerns of pain patients everywhere, to light.
@Dee I have a lot of ailments! I talk more about my personal story on my blog :
Unfortunately because I see pain mgmt, I cannot do the CBD oil.

I really very appreciative of all the comments and the personal stories you share.
This conversation is very important and I am immensely supportive of the movie coming out of pain.
I think that the chronic pain community needs to stick together. That we can make much more of a difference as a united group than one split in different directions.
I look forward to bringing you all more articles and you can always follow me at
Thank you!

Tim Mason

The only reason to continually harm a sector of society is financial gain. Money. Money is the root of all sorts of evil.
Whether hurting people for ego building, cash accumulation or basic control of people, it is not morally right. In fact, it is down right sinful.
IMO, the evil doers are after federal grant money to generate skewed reports for another evil person, gain notoriety.
You can be certain of this because there is no report or statistics that show a “a job well done”
Scientific journalism is dead.
It all started to go down hill when they started calling Personnel Departments, Human Resources.
I believe the tide is turning. Members of congress and News reporters being ratted out for immoral treatment of colleagues.
Kind of lets you know where their minds are or were.
I am beginning to see what Doctor David Nagel was talking about in his book “Needless Suffering” when he mentioned “Intellectual Dishonesty”


WELL written Liza. Now for my…rwo cents. It does NOT matter what, how, who, or why….we are dealing with overcoming pain generating issues Our faith, our jobs, our necessities in life, age, personalities. it does not seemingly matter in the fight to overcome our personal issues with disease and crippling health issues by dot/gov. Although faith that mankind is not totally oblivious to those who are weaker, in need, and deserve compassion, is not dead. Faith in a higher power, will prevail. Pain is “subjective” to the individual…..experiencing it. ONLY our providers can see, examine, test, and determine the underlying cause of pain generation, any human illness and treat; appropriately. Hopefully, we find a provider that realizes that the pain….is real.There are many different treatments for an underlying cause and we ALL want to be diagnosed, treated, and provided with the best arsenal available that is not harmful to our physiological being and our psychological wellness.For those of us that need opioid medicaton as the last effective treatment for the underlying pain issue, dot/gov, HHS, CDC, and the DEA ESPECIALLY is interfering with the wellness of MANY patients that seemingly…..don.t matter. The CDC is an agency under HHS. HHS has provided zero recourse for those of us that have had our medication all but eliminated. Hitler “rounded up” the disabled, the elderly, the sick, and the “non conformists” and we know what happened to them. History repeated? Subjective pain issues is the reason 90 mme daily, maximum, for those that CAN be treated with opioid medication is dead wrong. WRITE, CALL, HHS, CDC,your state representatives, your state medical boards and give them the “hell”…..back, that we are experiencing. Rightessnous will prevail.What is to lose? More than has been taken away?I’m pi$$ed! Can’t help it. People, patients are losing ANY way of life……we had. Wish our “compassionate” physicians would rally without fear of license forfeiture by the DEA.


Lisa, thank you for addressing the issue. No one can feel good while arguing their pain/issue is worse. It will leave you feeling small and mean……. Yep, we have all felt that way. It is normal, whatever the heck that means! Point being, while you are busy diminishing some one else, you diminish yourself in the process. We all have days where there really isn’t any relief and days when we remember our compassion for others keeps us……..civilized….
May I have more civil days than not.

Donald Moore

I can feel for those with multiple pain issues especially ones dealing with mental illness. Iam one. Its so hard to differentiate and pinpoint symptoms to those who are vital to my care. Medications available now are opioids given in conjunction with psychiatric meds. My ilness keeps me on a even keel but expression again is hard. Understanding and patients is priority and key to my living a quality life. With any disease getting better depends on cooperation that means communicating. Without these things anybody would lose their initiative to get better and be unprepared for future afflictions.

Marna P

Totally agree with you on the silly “one-up-disease-manship” in some online support groups. Pretty juvenile! I try to ignore and show support anyway. Besides, I Win! Four autoimmune diseases, thank you! Hahahaha, just kidding! Been pretty down in the dumps myself, since being dxd with Hidradenitis Suppurativa just a few weeks ago. For those not familiar, it’s a very disfiguring and painful autoimmune disease of the skin and glands, usually appearing as open weeping boils with connecting tunneling under the skin in the arms, groin, upper thighs, buttocks and stomach. Places where skin rubs skin. Not a matter of bad hygiene at all. Numerous surgeries are par for the course, and it just keeps getting worse as you go along. Humira has recently been ok’d to treat it, so hopefully more patients will be getting relief now! I already have psoriasis and Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, (yes, you CAN have both…gee, I’m so special! Hahahaha) and severe fibromyalgia. I frequently look up to the clouds and ask “why me?” So your article struck home. My rheumatologist just last week was joking that he’s glad I’m getting all these things, because that lowers the odds that he will! Bwahahaha! Good thing I have a great sense of humor! I wish for you a lower pain and stress filled holiday season, and please don’t get anything else! Lol! Hugs from a fellow chronic pain patient. Let’s keep our chins up, and gracefully carry on.

Bob Schubring

Canadian filmmaker Tina Petrova is presently working on a documentary, “Pandemic of Denial”, which addresses a curious statistic. About one of every three Canadians will develop disabling chronic pain in their lifetime, lasting longer than a month. But nearly one in four Canadians insist that the people who have the chronic pain, must be faking it, or otherwise express disbelief.

Denying that others have any pain, is one of the reasons why patients are tempted to argue over whose pain is worse, as Lisa points out in her article. And as Lisa correctly points out, arguing with one another over who is sickest, is a counter-productive strategy. It divides us, making us vulnerable to bullying by folks who begrudge us any treatment at all. In the US state of Ohio, a used-car salesman recently got up a citizen petition, seeking passage of a state constitutional amendment, that would give him and several other individuals a monopoly on the sale of legal cannabis in Ohio. Pro-cannabis voters often signed the petitions, not realizing what they’d be voting on. When matters came to a vote, the pro-cannabis voters were so revolted by the idea of creating a legal monopoly, that they voted down the measure, even though it would have given them a legal means of accessing the drug. The car salesman who promoted the monopoly, as part of his sales pitch, asserted there was some sort of “conspiracy” among drug companies to force people to use opioids instead of cannabis. For patients with intractable pain that’s not due to muscle tension, spasms, or any other condition that cannabis relieves, opioids are the only solution. It’s necessary that every patient have access to the drugs that are needed to treat his or her condition. This makes it a no-brainer for pain patients to unite, and seek fair treatment for all, exactly as Lisa urges.

To me, it’s apparent that the bullies who begrudge us any treatment at all, are the problem.


Save the hug and don’t mess with my pain meds.


The greatest Injustice now is what politicians and media are doing to Chronic pain sufferers, making heroin addicts and chronic pain patients synonymous

It is time to put the niceties aside and FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES

pat pacer

When I used the #MeToo hashtag I felt connected to so many others online, without depressing any of them more than they already are. That is what I felt good about. 41 years of full body crps and Trigeminal Neuralgia left a page full of other nasty diagnoses along for the ride. In 2014 I was dx with what I now call the very worst: Painful Hyperacusis is where normal sound is so loud, that all noise such as truck backup alarms and old junk diesel vehicles sound and vibrations, cause every neuron in my body to travel and attack each other, while intensifying and prolonging the excruciating pain of all the others on the long page of multiple diagnoses. I am afraid of sounding like my pain is worse than your pain but most of all I do not want to depress other chronic pain patients more than they already are, so I don’t say much anymore. I just read a lot and what a great article, and point well-made Liza, thank you so much for writing it.


It seems to be our new medicine putting our lives and our pain for the world to read, but it sould be out there as we can no longer suffer in silence. Far to long we have been among those that live for a lack of a better word ” normal ” hating the thought of the struggle to get a good nights rest, and when you do fall asleep you are abruptly waken by pain. Your mind is screaming you can’t move due to the intensity of pain, and so the day begins. We are not the reason for some ones guilt! We are not the cause for anyone cusade! We are not at fault that our lives, due to Chronic unrelenting Pain! have to have this medication that has now become a curse to use, and will be burned at the stake if you take it. Opioids are not our lives but they are our relief. They are not a cure but they our relief, and who has the right to take or change someones relief? To all those that suffer and are suffering more due to this nightmare my heart and thoughts are with you all.

Tim Mason

I made it to 48 w/o opioids. I was run over by a car in 1972. Broken leg, ribs, nose and multiple blood clots. It was spring. I would spend the next three months on blood thinners in the back bedroom of our shotgun home in the inner city, Physical therapy was never discussed. I had to teach myself to walk again. Laying in bed for three months left me completely lame in my left leg, I spent the next three years loosing it up.
I worked on a horse farm just south of town on weekends, brushing out horses, cleaning hoofs, feeding and watering and saddling horses (including my on trail horse, a 17.5 hands Tennessee Walker named “Tiny”. I have been kicked by tattooed Mustangs.
They say “Genetics Load the Gun and Lifestyle Pulls the Trigger”. I believe that to be a true statement.
Today’s world is much different with ergonomic devices. I went to college before the internet.
The rivets on the hulls of large ships were hammered by hand without ear protection leaving those involved with production with hearing loss and massive headaches.
Now, in the late fall of my life I find myself dependent on opioids for pain control from multiple orthopedic surgeries.
I know people that have gallon size zip lock bags full of medications. I have few medications but the pain medications are most valuable to me.
We all become dinosaurs-eventually.


Thank you so much Dee, for the comment and suggestion. I will certainly investigate the oil and delve deeper into Chinese Medicine. I have been studying holistic ways to help improve my health because Chinese Medicine has always intimidated me. But I will see if I can find someone knowledgeable in my area to help.

Know the feeling only too well with lots and lots of problems. Am in the process of trying cannabis balm and cannabis oil CBD only medicinal cannabis, it doesn’t make you high it’s purely for pain etc. Worth a shot but expensive, but it does go a long long way, does help with pain, although not a cure, it’s lovely to be pain free for a while. I also found a Chinese acupuncturist who is excellent, again not a cure but after I come out of his treatment I can actually move my neck and it has helped somewhat with my migraines. Regarding the migraines I am awaiting the new drug coming out hopefully next year in the UK it’s a once a month injection
Called Erununab (not sure of spelling and whether or not you suffer with severe migraines. Hope this of help. There is a co. In the UK which will send out free samples for £6 p&p called cbdproducts (but it’s not really enough to give it a fair trial) in my opinion!!! Wish you all the best. You didn’t actually mention where you had pain and your ailments so not sure if this is of any use. Good luck Dx
The oil is placed under the tongue just a few drops.