Contributed by: Vern
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, January 2011
Vern is a 55 year old man from Minnesota who sent this story to respond to the painACTION newsletter question, “I have been able to get good support from other people by…” Vern has had 5 failed back surgeries and has been living with chronic pain for over 10 years.
“I have been able to get good support from other people” by starting my own support and research group (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Support and Research Advocacy Group) on Facebook. Because of personality differences the group was an off spring of a similar group. Although personality differences will always occur in support groups it is most important to keep very close tabs on all conversations to ensure there are no personal attacks. I think that is why I have found so much support there. We all have the same “disorder” so it makes it easy to get good understanding from one another. Although we do share stories about “chronic pain” in general, we focus on the problem we all have in common.
Unlike other groups, we are a “closed” board and new members are asked to share their stories or at least a little about their back problems with me prior to their approval to become a member. Because we are focused on Failed Back Surgery a lot of the members have become very close. It also enables us to understand what each of us is or has gone through.
We still deal with chronic pain but on a more general basis. I have recommended the American Pain Foundation (APF) to all the members and let them know they can find a lot of information there on not only how to deal with their pain but also how to become involved in helping others deal with their pain.
Having created this group and finding the American Pain Foundation because of it, it has opened new doors for me to not only receive more support but also offer it by becoming more involved in the APF. I am in the process of preparing my application to become a “state leader” for the organization, however, because of my pain have procrastinated in doing so.
The support I receive from our little family in the group has helped me through serious bouts with depression and even more serious bouts with pain just by knowing there are other people out there who have gone through the same thing that I have. Some of them having the same exact problems in the same exact areas. That is the reason we limit the group to those who have the same problems it seems to create a better understanding of each other.
My plans for the future include starting a support group primarily for back surgery patients which should give me an even better understanding of what different people go through and how they deal with it.
painACTION editorial note: There are national organizations that provide support for people living with chronic pain, through their websites, telephone links, and groups that meet in many communities. Check out The American Chronic Pain Association(www.theacpa.org), The American Pain Foundation (www.painfoundation.org), and the U.S. Pain Foundations (www.uspainfoundation.org).