I have Chronic Pain. Doctor, Do You Hear Me?
If you are a person who suffers from chronic pain, but has difficulty expressing how you are feeling to your doctor – you are not alone. One option to help your doctor, as well as your families and friends who wish to better understand your chronic pain, is to write an open letter. This letter will perform the tough communication for you.
The below letter is adapted from an original letter posted on Spine-health to help sufferers of chronic pain best express themselves to their doctor.
Open letter from a person with chronic pain
As you know doc, most people do not understand what chronic pain entails and how it affects my life. I can’t simply describe this ailment as battling cancer or being injured in a car accident, but I do wish to inform those who care about me how I’m feeling, and most importantly best convey my health to you. Sometimes, doctor, I feel like you don’t even understand or believe how poorly I’m feeling, and that I’m not here seeking medication for no good reason. Below are several important items that I hope you can understand about my condition before you make assumptions about me.
- Please remember that even though I was able to stand up for 10 minutes during our last visit, doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to stand up for 20 minutes, or an hour on this minute. I was very happy about my progress last visit also! But, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I can do the same activities today. It’s tough, because it can be like a yo-yo, which confuses even me. But, I never know how I’m going to feel each day, and the way that I feel when I wake up can be much different than the way that I feel midday. Basically, I might feel great one minute and terrible the next.
- Similarly, please duplicate the above paragraph swapping “walking,” “sitting,” “concentrating,” “thinking,” “being sociable,” and more; this yo-yo feeling applies to every activity in my life. This is what it is like to live with chronic pain.
- I know that you want the best for me, but please recognize that “getting out and being active” does not usually make me happy or feeling healthier, and typically makes me feel much worse. Of course I’d love to exercise, but telling me that I need to so that I can “get my mind off of it” is very frustrating when I don’t feel well enough to do so. If I was able of doing some things sometimes, I definitely would! I appreciate you working with me so that I can achieve my goals and hopefully one day, be able to participate in more activities again.
- I generally think you do, but please realize the different between me being “healthy” and “happy”. Since I DO suffer from chronic pain, it’s difficult for me to achieve both of these states simultaneously. When you’re talking to me and I sound happy, it likely means that I am happy! Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily reflect the state of pain that I’m in. Please don’t say, “you sound much better!”, because chances are, I’m simply coping.