I'm a nurse. For the past oh, about 16 years or so, I have been a nurse. So dealing with others' pain is not new to me. I am a strong patient advocate, and unlike many nurses who undermedicate pain, I believe in relieving pain for those who suffer. I have occasionally had short term pain, such as post operative pain, so I am not only trained to relieve pain, but empathetic to others' pain. I feel I have been good at recognizing and treating the physical pain of others. The one type of pain I have had to try hard not to judge, and not always been successful doing, is chronic pain. Oh, I treat that pain for patients too, but it is hard for me to be sympathetic and not snort under my breath that those who have chronic pain are just exaggerating. And that living with chronic pain is just something you have to suck up and deal with. Not much sympathy there from me.
Until now. For about four weeks now I have been having excruciating headaches. Tests reveal nothing, so I guess it is my imagination being overactive. I keep telling myself my headaches aren't real, but my head says 'oh yah? I'll show you what's real' and pounds right on. I have never been much of a complainer about pain, so when I do complain, you can bet my pain is way out there.
And I have started to realize something about chronic pain. It debilitates. I find it hard to think and function while I am having pain. I find myself being short tempered and ill as a hornet (southern idiom for bitchy) and most of all I find it is beginning to depress me.
So why am I blogging about pain? Because I see the positive aspect of why I am suffering. I understand now what people who suffer with long term pain feel. I don't know when or if mine will go away, and the medication the doctor gave me is only partly effective, so I understand what it is like to know that nothing will totally take that pain away. I understand why people live in fear of their pain. To find relief, even briefly, is a wonder, but there is the worry that any moment the pain will return. And it does. Like a monster riding your back.
I understand. Now. And see how arrogant I was in my ignorance. There really is truth to the saying that until you walk a mile in someone's shoes, you can't truly understand them.
So, belatedly, I apologize. I will never look at pain the same way again, or at those who suffer from it.