To see the graphic that I have attached to this post, and to read the words of a dear friend, as a response to the graphic, really helped look at my own chronic pain issues. Although I will never understand the pain that is associated with Gout, I do understand the pain associated with a long history of scoliosis and multiple sclerosis.
You never realize how much chronic pain affects your life until it is gone. I know this would sound crazy to say, but, “I would almost rather it not ever be gone.” I say that because once it is gone, you never want it back, but as a person that suffers from chronic pain, it eventually comes back. Having to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis, you learn how to cope, how to get through each day, and to manage a schedule, errands, and family. When you don’t have that burden you are almost lost. Your coping mechanism is so honed, that you don’t know what to do when you don’t have the issue of coping.
Please take a minute to read my friend Max’s take on chronic pain. He is an amazing individual, and for him to take the time to write 800+ words, tells me that his ability to cope at the time this was written was a struggle.
Though it has been up close and quite personal for my wife Janet over the past 17 years, for me, I have been submerged in what this cartoon brings to light for 27 + years. Yep, at the hot-rockin’ age of 23, I was diagnosed with Gout. A deeply painful auto-immune condition that results in the growth of little crystals that slice one’s inner flesh and causes runaway inflammation. To the outside observer may seem quite random. For anyone that has known me directly, or through my wife for more than half an hour, it is clear that this post is referring to the frustration that she has witnessed me experience over these many years.
These little crystals are so small most anyone could suffer being internally poked and sliced without even being aware that it has taken place. As the recipient of millions of slices every second as a result of each involuntary micro-movement my body makes, it is a situation most people cannot even begin to imagine, much less endure. Not to mention the long-term mental anguish that results from having to witness a human body attacking itself from the viewpoint of living within that very same human body. My current stage of “cranky” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
All that aside, the cartoon Janet found, and the things it reveals brings to light very real situations that many folks dealing with anything “chronic” are faced with. ON TOP OF whatever their particular DIS-ease may happen to be. The term “chronic” comes from “chronometer” and refers to something taking place “long-term” or “over time.” The most basic definition of “disease” is, “not at ease.” Individuals that find themselves in such a condition are “not at ease over a long period of time” and takes a huge toll emotionally on top of whatever is attacking them physically.
Now, I can’t speak for the rest of us, but I can apologize and take responsibility for what must seem like me wearing my condition on my sleeve. Something I should try harder to mask. The number of years without relief does wear one down, though to the point that the pain finds it’s way out in the open – more times than not boring those around you to the point that they – and rightfully so – question the value in having you around in the first place.
Regardless of a solution for that obvious character flaw, I CAN speak for the rest of us when I say, “NO,” we do not want an aspirin or a Tylenol or an Ibuprofen. “NO,” a homeopathic solution will not now, nor at any point in the future, offer anything resembling relief. “NO,” applying heat or cold or Aspercreme or emu oil – AT BEST – it will do nothing more than aggravate the condition further with the enhancement of now being wet or greasy or both. And suggesting (as it has recently been to me – not kidding) that it is the “result of something in a past life that must be resolved,” is as useful to a thirsty person as a cup of sand.
To the majority of the human race not inflicted with such persistent and painful conditions, appreciate not having to be that person that seems to always show up in pain. If you can, and if the person offers enough value or interest to occupy moments in your life, just be aware that by the time you have been blessed or burdened with the awareness that they even exist that they have probably tried everything – legal or otherwise – to get out of pain and on with life.
“NO,” Cherries will not help regardless of the “latest study” Dr. Oz has promoted, and sticking a pin into someone’s body has never made one crystal go away, much less sending millions upon millions of them back into the ethos.
Sometimes one of us, perhaps a systemic aberration of the human condition, though no less a human being shows up, and without specific medical breakthroughs are simply destined to hurt. In my case, it is most demeaning to find myself directly subject to a shift in the weather toward one direction or another. From the perspective of looking up, how can someone beat something as large as the currently uncontrollable whims of barometric pressure!?!! A demeaning position that can easily leave one in the undesirable and desperate condition of existing without hope. Something I personally wish upon no one.
If you are special enough to tolerate and/or find value in our existence, then an offering of thanks is certainly in order. If we keep coming back then we obviously find value in your presence as well. With that said, sometimes it is just enough to allow us to vent when we find ourselves “under the weather” or, yet again, at our emotional and physical wits’ end.