What I learned about living with pain that I wish someone had told me

Contributed by: Vern
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, September 2011

Vern is 55 years old, had failed back surgery and has neuropathy in both legs. He has been in chronic pain and on disability for the past 10 years. In his story Vern offers advice to help people who are new to chronic pain.

One thing I have learned about living with pain that I wish someone had told me is that I would have to learn how to make people understand that the pain is real. Just because you can’t see any physical signs of pain doesn’t mean I don’t hurt.

I wish I would have known that because my pain is invisible, I would have to explain to not only just friends but family as well that there are times that I am not able to do certain things including attending family functions because I hurt. Because my pain is invisible I have to explain to my friends that there are certain things I can’t do anymore no matter how bad I want to do them from going fishing for the day to helping them work on their car.

It is unfortunate that through the process of living with invisible pain you end up losing friends and alienating your family. No matter how many times you explain your capabilities it gets frustrating to have to remind people, and it always appears that you are not believed. It is beyond my comprehension why people would think you are not being truthful when you would expect your friends and family would be the first ones to offer you support and understanding. Why would an otherwise healthy middle aged man give up all the things that he loves to do unless it was real.

Had someone told me things like this would happen or the possibility even existed that something like this would happen, I would have planned about how I was going to tell them. Or explained to them that I was joining a local support group to help learn to deal with my pain.

I may have even asked them to all get together in one spot and make an announcement and explain that I will need their support and understanding until I learned how to cope with my pain. I could have given them a number of different web sites including yours that not only would explain my problem but how I will have to learn how to deal with it as well

Because of my experiences when I hear of a friend or family member is going to end up in my situation, I would explain to them that they had better prepare themselves for the fact that there will be some friends and family that will not believe you, and that it will change their entire life and way of living.
earn how to deal with it as well.