When Chronic Pain Takes Away Your Life

When Chronic Pain Takes Away Your Life – By Peter Abaci, MD –  Dec 2018

I find it unusual for a doctor to think about this, let alone write about it.

Pain changes us.

The minute we start to hurt, we make adaptions to how we move, what we do, and where we go.

This makes me think Dr. Abacci really does understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain. 

When we keep re-organizing our lives around our pain, we can become separated from our typical daily routine.

The more we start to pull back, the less likely we are to go to work, exercise, walk, or even leave the house.

Once this happens, we feel ourselves disconnect emotionally from friends, loved ones, and co-workers.

Very quickly, we can start to lose much of what we value and enjoy about our lives.

This is so very true and lies at the root of our “suffering” from our pain.

Unfortunately, this kind of loss can be the biggest casualty of having chronic pain.

Let’s take a look at some of the life-changing types of losses that I see patients face on a regular basis and where to look for help.

Family

As I often say, when one person at home is in pain, everyone who is living there hurts. A pain problem affects each person in the household in some way. The pain experience can disrupt how we interact with those closest to us.

Intimacy

If you find yourself avoiding intercourse because of pain, then you aren’t alone. For example, this can be a common problem for patients with low back pain or fibromyalgia.

Income

Tragically, I have seen patients lose their careers, their life’s savings, and even their homes because of chronic pain. I have even seen some patients become homeless or start to live out of their cars, all because they could no longer stay employed because of the amount of pain they were in.

Fun

Let’s face it, we all need to laugh, play, and have some fun in life.

I’m thrilled to see a doctor say this because I haven’t heard anyone else in the pain management field ever talk about “fun” as an essential part of life, even though a life without it becomes dry and tasteless.

But sometimes the pain we feel stands in the way of doing some of the things we enjoy the most.

That can include everything from the sports we like to play, keeping up with a favorite hobby, to dancing or just getting out of the house to visit friends or see a movie.

Being in pain is no fun, but staying in pain can make having fun a big challenge, too.

I think this is an important distinction: being in pain, versus staying in pain. It’s the second part that causes true suffering.

Ask your physician to help you find valuable resources like counselors, therapists, or pain psychologists who can help you process what you have been through while also helping you learn constructive tools that you can use to move forward.

Give me a break! The only “resource” our doctors recommend these days is addiction-recovery because then they’re off the hook for prescribing us opioids anymore.

And even if they did “help us find valuable resources” like the ones mentioned, we’d never be able to afford them because most aren’t covered by insurance or only for a handful of sessions each year.

An important step to overcoming loss is finding the right help.

Talk to a physical therapist or movement expert for guidance in becoming more active and engaged with recreational activities, work functions, and even explore what can be done to re-ignite your love-life.

If you are rich enough these resources would be helpful, but for most of us, they remain financially out of reach.

The wounds from the loss we experience can run deep, but finding the healers out there can be a crucial step toward recovery.

But when the “healers” are forced to stop “healing” and mandated to stop treating our pain effectively (for many this means opioids) they are no longer “healers” for us, but rather adversaries we struggle against to maintain some quality of life.

Author: Peter Abaci, MD, is one of the world’s leading experts on pain and integrative medicine and serves as the co-founder and Medical Director for the Bay Area Pain & Wellness Center. He is a dedicated healer, author, and radio celebrity. To learn more about Dr. Abaci, visit his website.

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