Chronic Pain is a Very Real Condition

Published Friday, October 14, 2005

Chronic pain affects every aspect of life: work, social, recreational, financial, and familial. Chronic pain affects sleep patterns, concentration, memory, and energy, among other things. It can cause anxiety, depression, and a loss of identify. Since chronic pain often has no visible signs the legitimacy of people’s pain is often questioned. Those with chronic pain often feel alone, isolated, and disbelieved.

During National Pain Awareness Week, November 6th-12th, the Ridge Meadows Chronic Pain Support Group will have a display at the Maple Ridge Library. The display will include personal stories from members of the support group, as well as information about living with chronic pain. Those involved hope that by sharing their own experiences they help others in similar situations.

Nane’s chronic pain started after a car accident when she was six months pregnant with her second child. Nane spent her year off after her pregnancy struggling to make it through the day and to care for her two young sons. Nane worked hard to improve her pain through physiotherapy and rehabilitation. The rehab helped to a point but then her pain would flare again.

Nane tried to go back to work but realized after two shifts that she was unable to do her job effectively. By the time she drove to work she would be in tears from the pain. It was an incredibly hard decision to go on long term disability because Nane didn’t want to believe that she was experiencing as much pain as she was. As hard as that decision was, the decision to hire in home help for child care was even more distressing.

Nane’s pain stole her identity. In a short time she went from an energetic and active mother and wife, and a full-time trauma nurse, to someone who had difficulties getting out of bed in the morning. “It has been devastating, absolutely devastating.”

One member of the support group has peripheral neuropathy in his feet, a disorder that affects the nerves and causes pain, numbness, and tingling. Since he also has Crohns he is unable to take medication to help with the pain in his feet.

He feels that “chronic pain is misunderstood by a lot of people. People think it’s something that bothers you on occasion but with my situation it’s a constant pain; a constant 24/7, 365 days a year, with every step, all the time, kind of pain.”

While most people with chronic pain live with pain at all times, others are able to cope with their pain with the help of medications and/or therapy but live with side effects which disrupt their daily lives.

Angela was diagnosed with both juvenile diabetes and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis during her teen years. While medications have helped her to cope with the diabetes and arthritis she is currently struggling with eye problems due to the combination of arthritis, diabetes, and possibly medications she used to take.

Two years ago Angela was experiencing blurry vision. After having her eyes checked she was shocked to hear that she had cataracts, especially since she was twenty-three. After two successful surgeries to remove the cataracts, Angela’s right retina detached. After several more procedures Angela’s retina was reattached but she is currently blind out of her right eye. For Angela it is not the pain but the instability of her condition, and the continuous doctor’s appointments, which have adversely affected her daily life.

One in ten Canadians live with chronic pain. Please learn more by attending the display November 6th-12th at the Maple Ridge Library.

For more information call (604) 466•8771.