Living with Pain

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2004-04-02 20:39

Much of the pain that we experience can't be eliminated or treated, so we have no choice but to learn to live with it.

Pain is an inevitable part of life. In living with a chronic illness or chronic pain, pain is no stranger to us and we are likely to endure more than the average person may endure. Much of the pain that we experience can't be eliminated or treated, so we have no choice but to learn to live with it. In my struggle to learn how to do this and to still find meaning and purpose in life I have learned many things and developed a new relationship with my pain.

As a mental health professional and a person who lives with chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, I deal with a great deal of pain daily. In my own exploration of pain, and in my professional experience, I have found there are several intertwined levels of pain: the physical level, the emotional/psychological and the spiritual level. Severe physical pain is likely to cause emotional distress as one struggles to cope with feelings of loss, grief and anger associated with diminished abilities or changes in lifestyle or identity. In forming a new identity that includes being ill, one may struggle with the spiritual pain of existential aloneness. Questions such as "Why me?" and "What is the purpose of my life now?" may arise.

I endure excruciating pressure, aching and pinching in my muscles, joints, bones, and head and I live with excessive fatigue and weakness. I have chronic headaches, which frequently turn into migraines. I have severe aching and stabbing pains throughout my gastrointestinal system and in my internal organs. I also have a great deal of grief and loss in response to the limits the illness imposes on me.

For example, I have to completely avoid common everyday chemicals such as perfumes, air fresheners, pesticides, scented laundry products, and disinfectants. In avoiding these substances this means that I must also avoid people who may have these odors on their person. A large part of my life is spent alone at home or doing outdoor activities like walking or country rides. Even so, I have to be careful to avoid lawn chemicals or pollutants in the air. It is particularly painful and frustrating to be prevented from participating in life as fully as I would like.

Source: 
Cynthia Perkins

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