May 132013
 

Chronic pain changes many things in life, most are invisible. Many people do not seem to understand chronic pain and its effects. Many people do not seem to understand that chronic pain sufferers have attempted numerous alternative therapies and know what therapies have worked or not worked for them. Some people have been misinformed or merely misunderstand.

In the spirit of informing those who wish to understand: These are some things that can help you to understand, and help, people who suffer from often debilitating, chronic pain.

 

  1. Remember that being sick does not mean that the sufferer is no longer a human being. Chronic pain sufferers spend the majority of their day in considerable pain. If one visits or lives with a chronic pain sufferer, the chronic pain sufferer may be unable to enjoy things they used to enjoy. The chronic pain sufferer remains aware, and desires to do what they used to perform. The chronic pain sufferer feels as if they are stuck inside a body they have little or no control. They want to enjoy work, family, friends, and leisure activities.
  2. Learn the code. Chronic pain sufferers will often talk differently from people free of constant pain. [1] A numeric pain scale is used as a quantitative measure for identification of intensity for pain so the doctors can measure effects of treatments. Description of pain on a scale measuring from 1 to 10, the 1 is “no pain at all, feel wonderful” and 10 is the “worst pain ever felt”. Do not assume the chronic pain sufferer is not experiencing pain when they say that they are fine. The chronic pain sufferer attempts to hide the pain due to lack of understanding in others. Accept that words may be inadequate to describe how the sufferer is feeling. Recall a time when you experienced pain, then multiply the intensity and attempt to imagine the pain present twenty-four hours everyday without relief. It’s hard to find the words for that sort of pain.
  3. Recognize the difference between “happiness” and “healthy”. When you have the flu, you probably have felt miserable. Chronic pain sufferers have experienced pain from 6 months to many years. Pain has caused them to adopt coping mechanisms that are not necessarily reflecting the real level of pain they feel. –
    – Respect that the person who is in pain is trying their best. When the chronic pain sufferer says they are in pain – they are! They are merely coping; sounding happy and trying to look normal.
  4. – Look for the signs of pain: grimacing, restlessness, irritability, mood swings, wringing of hands, moaning,sleep disturbance, teeth grinding, poor concentration, decreased activity, and perhaps even writing down suicidal thoughts or language.[2]
  5. Listen. The previous two steps made it clear that chronic pain sufferers can speak in code or make light of their pain than is the reality. The next best thing that you can do is to listen to them properly, and to make it clear that you both want to hear what they have to say and that you really have heard it. Use your listening skills to decode what they’re hiding or minimizing.
    – Don’t be put off by the sufferer’s attempts at distracting you; be persistentListen. The previous two steps made it clear that chronic pain sufferers can speak in code or make light of their pain than is the reality. The next best thing that you can do is to listen to them properly, and to make it clear that you both want to hear what they have to say and that you really have heard it. Use your listening skills to decode what they’re hiding or minimizing. Read How to be a good listener for more details on being a great listener.
  6. Understand and respect the chronic pain sufferer’s physical limitations. Being able to stand up for ten minutes doesn’t necessarily mean that the sufferer can stand up for twenty minutes, or an hour, or give you a repeat performance whenever. Just because the person managed to stand up for thirty minutes yesterday doesn’t imply that they will be able to do the same today. With a lot of diseases, a person may exhibit obvious signs of immobility, such as paralysis, or total immobilization due to weakness, etc. With chronic pain however, it is confusing to both the sufferer and the onlooker, and their ability to cope with movement can be like a yo-yo. The sufferer may not know, from day-to-day, how they are going to feel when they wake up and each day has to be taken as it comes. In many cases, they don’t know from minute to minute. That is one of the hardest and most frustrating components of chronic pain.

Continue on www.wikihow.com

Jacqueline Goguen‘s insight:
“My pain blooms everywhere; please try to understand…” I really like this article and wanted to share it with everyone I know!

Blessings,
Jacqui

 

Apr 152013
 

Pete Beisner knows a lot about supporting a partner in pain. Here, he shares insights on how to take care of the person you love.

We will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary this week, and I can say without a doubt that despite the problems that come with periods of joblessness and raising two kids to maturity, the thing that has had the biggest influence on our marriage has been pain.

So, I have two sets of tips. The first set of tips is for supporting someone you love who has chronic pain. The second set of tips are practical suggestions for how to support a woman in an episode of critical pain, like just after she has had major surgery or a serious injury.

  1. I think that it is important to think of pain as your common enemy, not as a part of your wife or baggage that comes with her. It is something outside of both of you that impacts both of you and that can kill your marriage.
  2. If your wife is anything like mine, she will try to hide her pain from you. She does it for two reasons: one, she does not want to be a wuss or a whiner. Second, she knows that her in pain is distressing for those that she loves, so she hides it from us.
  3. Because women in chronic pain have to be good at ignoring their own pain, their maximum sneaks up on them and on you. Trust me when I say that you do not want to be surprised by your wife’s pain. The wall of pain will hit her hard, and if you are lucky she will end up snapping at your or the kids. If you are unlucky, she will collapse into sobs that will break your heart to hear. Before I learned to read the signs in my wife, it would seem like her breaking point would come out of nowhere. We tried to get her to tell us when she was coming up on her limit, but she only notices about 30 percent of the time, and that is after years of coaching and encouraging.
  4. To avoid a pain-storm, be on the look-out for non-verbal clues of increased pain. My wife who is normally a font of cheerful patter gets quieter the further into pain that she goes because she does not want her voice to betray her pain. She holds her body more rigid, trying not to limp and holds her breath, taking one long rasping breath for every three that I take. There is also a look of grim determination that settles in her eyes, even if she is smiling.
  5. When you note the non-verbal clues of increased pain, reflect them back to her. Ask that she put her pain on a scale from 1-10, but make note if she tends to tip to one side of the scale. My wife has had a C-section without anesthesia, so that is her 10. She rated a compound broken bone where I could see a jagged bone tip protruding through the skin of her ankle as a five. So know how she rates things. When you determine that she is in rising pain, encourage her to move towards a place where she can rest and take medication. Remind her how much the pain storm will cost her. If it is worth it for her to continue, then so be it. Do what you can to support her.
  6. Chronic pain does not mean that the person has the same level of pain every day or even at various times in the day. So encourage her to put the fun stuff first. If she has enough energy and pain relief to do a quick trip out and about, encourage her to go someplace fun rather than the grocery store
  7. Don’t let her “should” on herself—beat herself up for what she cannot do. Argue back when she expresses guilt or sets impossible expectations for herself. When my wife tells me that she is a bad mother because she couldn’t stand in the rain beside a soccer field, I remind her of all the other ways that she has been there for our kids. Encourage her to tell significant people in her life such as her boss and co-worker that her life is significantly impacted by pain. Remind her that stating the truth is not the same as complaining and it does not make her a whiner.
  8. One of my early ways of dealing with my wife’s chronic pain was to encourage my wife not to do things that caused her pain. Then I realized that if she avoided all activities that caused her pain, she would never do anything. Let her grit her teeth and get through pain for things that are important to her, even if it kills you to watch her do it. And trust your wife if she says that she wants to have sex even while in pain. Sometimes and in some women, arousal can do wonders to offer temporary relief from pain.
  9. Women in chronic pain are used to working through pain, distracting themselves, minimizing etc. They play mind games that help them get around it. But this means that they pay less attention to their bodies than other women do. In some cases, this makes it harder for the woman to get aroused. In my wife’s case, it makes her really really clumsy. I used to try to help her by saying things like “Your toes and nose should be pointed in the same direction as the location you are placing an object like a glass.” That really isn’t helpful. We have compromised: for things my wife knows are important to me, like lifting and carrying food, (I love her cooking and when it gets spilled all over the kitchen floor, I am in pain) she agrees as a favor to me to allow me to do those things. And, I keep plenty of Band-aids, ice packs and other things for the rest.
  10. The key thing to remember is that pain builds even while you are managing to ignore it. The longer your wife is in pain, the more of it she experiences and the less she can block it out. So what would be an objective level 5 pain your wife can block out to make it a level 2. But when she is no longer able to block it, it will come back as 6-8. Beware of this whiplash phenomenon.

More on goodmenproject.com

Jacqueline Goguen‘s insight:

Helpful tips and insight, not only for men who support partners, but for anyone who has someone they care about in their life that suffers from chronic pain.

Do you have any tips or insights that have been helpful in either helping you support someone suffering from chronic pain? Do those of you who suffer from chronic pain yourselves, are there any insights you can share to help our support partners better understand and support us?

Blessings,
Jacqui