Friday, February 3, 2012

The Nerve of Pain

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.  - Helen Keller

Pain ...

it has a way of grabbing your attention and chronic pain keeps you riveted.

Recently, my fibro pain has been under control. *cautious happy dance*.  I didn't say that I'm free of pain, however.  After a hysterectomy in 2001 for endometriosis, I was left with damage to the bowel and the surrounding nerves. I (too) often experience what is known as neuropathy (nerve pain).  The pain origninates in my bowel and radiates throughout my body, zinging me anywhere from my shoulders to my feet, much like an electrical shock. Unluckily for me and others with neuropathy, nerve pain is notoriously difficult to treat. It would seem that I jumped from the fire into the frying pan. And I'm sizzling in it as I write. Do you remember being hit with an elastic band as a kid?  Kinda stings, right? Mulitply that by one hundred. Now imagine that sensation on your insides. To give you a better description, it feels as if a cactus has lodged in my colon.

The pain of fibromyalgia is 'nerve-racking' enough to cope with on its own. Too often, fibro sufferers have a multitude of other syndromes. I developed IBS - irritable bowel syndrome after my surgery.  I also possess an irritable bladder. On any given day, my entire pelvis is in one big bad mood.

Millions of people live with chronic pain every day, which is described as pain that lasts longer than three months. Living with chronic pain affects your ability to work, your relationships and limits your activities. Left untreated, life can become one long pain parade and you're The Fibromyalgia Float.

Because pain is subjective and invisible, it's difficult for most people to understand how confining life is for the chronic pain sufferer. If a person has a broken leg, for example, it is expected that the limb will heal and the pain will eventually stop. This is acute pain and it differs from chronic pain.  Depression and anxiety often accompany the chronic pain sufferer as feelings of despair can quickly overwhelm a person.  People in pain will often avoid exercise or move around as little as possible to avoid worsening their discomfort. This can lead to a condition called disuse syndrome which means, basically, move it or lose it. Muscles that become weak with disuse are more prone to injury. Chronic pain sufferers are caught in a frustrating Catch-22 cycle of unintended self-sabotage.

As if living in pain day to day isn't stressful enough, a stigma exists for the chronic pain sufferer; they're brushed off as 'lazy and often, drug-seeking' and thus, left undertreated.  Am I wrong in assuming that most people would prefer to live an active, healthy and fulfilling life?  So, why would a person opt for a life of pain with no hope of a cure on the horizon ... one with sporadic pain relief, at best?  I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that we do not choose nor do we delight in being bedridden, exhausted and in pain. Honestly, who would? Would you?

When all you can feel are the shadows, turn your face towards the sun. - Helen Keller

Despite chronic pain, many sufferers have learned to live a productive life, despite daily pain. Learning effective coping strategies can help to reduce your pain. While it won't take away your pain completely, it can give you a sense of control over your body. Mild exercise such as yoga or tai chi can help to strengthen muscles and offer pain relief. Work with your doctor to find the right medications for yourself. This may take some time and trial and error. Practicing guided imagery exercises and meditation can help to lower your pain level. Explore alternative or complimentary medicine. Many pain sufferers swear by massage, acupuncture or herbal remedies for relief. There is no doubt that living with chronic pain is difficult, but there is reason for hope.

I am only one, still I am one. I cannot do everything, still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.  - Helen Keller

Don't rain on my parade, eh? This is one life circumstance in which I would welcome a down pour.


  1. Cathy, thank you for acknowledging that stigma that follows chronic pain sufferers. I've been living with fibromyalgia for several years now, and it's hard to describe the pain to someone who doesn't have it. The fogginess that comes along with FM is also something that I really struggle with. I'll be visiting your blog more in the future for sure! Also, I came across this site,, which is a great resource for anyone suffering. Thanks again for the great post.

  2. Hi Kathie!

    Thanks for your positive review! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll check out the link you provided. Thanks for reading.

  3. I would like to honour you with the Fibro Fighter Award (

    Congratulations! Please feel free to recommend other bloggers whom you think worthy of this tribute

  4. I am really pleased to have found you-I am new to this blogging, but more to accepting that I have chronic pain-chronically! I just recently quoted Helen myself-and what strength are in her words. Thank you.

  5. I wanted to let you know about my charity event for National Fibromyalgia Day May 12,2012. Just make a purchase at and 50% of all proceeds will go to I've had fibromyalgia for 7 years. I highly recommend you visit this charity's website. They have helped a lot of people find the root cause of their fibromyalgia. They publish a magazine with great tips and the latest research.

  6. Is the National Fibro Day for US or Canada? How about BOTH? I would hope that it could be a day of Fibro awareness. Educating others is important.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this post which tells about neuropathic pain . Good job

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