"The Separate 'Planet' We Live on As People in Chronic Pain" (6/9/18)
Other pains can usually be pointed to or clearly described. They are polite enough to stay within certain physical or emotional confines, and have a reasonable shelf life.
Chronic pain, on the other hand simply refuses to leave, and often roams around the body wherever it pleases.
To add insult to injury, instead of keeping within the physical body, it sort of oozes out of its original borders and takes over more and more of the territory of experience, eventually seeping through and soaking into the entire fabric of one’s existence.
Pain Becomes the House We Live In
It’s really very strange, and challenging to explain to others who haven’t had the experience. It’s like nothing else. Sometimes it feels like an unwanted house guest who never leaves, but eventually it feels like the house itself.
You’re surrounded by a field of pain and everything you see, do, hear, express, or receive must pass through the ever-present fog of the pain zone. I think this might be the most difficult thing for others to understand.
Pain is no longer just part of our experience of life. Life must now take place completely immersed within it.
Too Late For A Band Aid
It’s sort of like calling in the plumber to fix the leak in the kitchen sink when the whole house has just fallen off a cliff.
The well-meaning plumber focuses on the kitchen sink and says, here, let’s change the washers or whatever and you’re living in this disaster of a house that needs all kinds of different and simultaneous attentions and the plumber just can’t see past the broken faucet.
Or something like that.
Looking for the Door that Lets Pain Out
But I think the door I’m looking for doesn’t open out like that, it opens in.
Anyway, I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve found it.
Sarah Anne Shockley has lived with nerve pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since 2007. She is the author of The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living with and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain (New World Library June, 2018).