Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to support a pseudo-death - Chronic pain, parent's divorce, or break-up...

I have dealt with a number of what I call "pseudo-deaths." You know, like when your health ups & dies, your parent disappears, or you break up with someone after dating them for years & years. The problem is that society doesn't provide landmark events for these. "There's not an app for that" sort of thing. There is no funeral if your dad abandons your family. There is no fundraising & general panic if you have chronic but not-life-threatening pain. And there are no divorce parties if you break up with a long-time love. You just suck it up, and go it alone.

Because society doesn't validate these events as tragic, when it comes to supporting people in these categories, there are no guidelines to follow. So let me suggest one. If you are interacting with someone experiencing a pseudo-death, and you don't know what to say, check out the following list. This magic trifecta of verbiage avoids foot-in-mouth syndrome & prevents you from saying all kinds of landminey things.

Just try the 1, 2, 3 steps below...

1. "I am so sorry to hear that"

2. "How are you doing?"

If you want to be really great do what my boyfriend does & say

3.  How can I support you?" (See why I am with him?! He came up with this one all on his own.)

If you use these verbal support statements effectively, you will win the medal of support by your person in pain, because you provided grade-A service in earning the Relating to Pain (RTP) degree.

And in regard to all those things you would have LIKED to say but that weren't on this list? To quote me, "Be nice, not right." You can't go wrong with that.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Party in the frying pan...Because what else can you do?!

Yesterday I realized that what I thought was a resolution on how to live with the psychological impact of chronic pain was only - an explanation. (Referencing my previous blog.) I was a bit annoyed to see this, because after more than 20 years, you would think I would have figured it out.

Compounding the issue, is that it is a bit like being a frog in a frying pan. Because you have to adjust at each change in your condition, you don't know where you started out. I know I certainly don't remember what it feels like to be normal or pain-free. It would be logical to conclude that if you want to analyze how to deal with the long-term impact of pain, that you would at least understand what that impact is. No such luck, since you are frying-panned. So the logical starting place of realizing where you're at, is pretty much impossible. And don't they say that realizing your condition is the starting point to improving it?

I am not sure that there ever comes an acceptance of chronic pain. I'm not sure it would be good if you did accept it - Because then you would stop fighting it. And fighting it is key to improving your condition. It sounds like people who lose limbs and the ability to do certain things come to an acceptance of their condition. But I have not heard these people say they suffer chronic pain along with their loss of mobility. Perhaps they do, and I am just not aware. Which begs the question, if I had to choose, would I give up a limb in exchange for losing my pain? I absolutely believe I would. But I can't try and see, unfortunately. Not that you can't remove my limbs, but that my pain would not go away with that.

I believe the loss you suffer when you lose your health, and you get chronic pain, is too big for the body and mind to process. The problem is with many of these types of pain, is that they are man-made. They are not the result of your body breaking down naturally, therefore it cannot repair itself naturally. I think the body's inability to fix itself is unusual, and the body and mind cannot process this problem.

Heck you can even recover from cancer. But not from chronic pain. So if you wonder why those of us  who have it are pissed off, that observation might explain it. We can't do a fundraiser, have an operation, or any other normal recovery fix and have any chance of it working. It is our sheer inability to get out of the frying pan is the problem. Ain't no way to remove the pan from underneath us.

So the reason I started this blog, and can't cover my main topic (which was how to deal with the chronic pain) is because there's really no way to deal with it. When you keep realizing that all your fixes are only temporary, it's incredibly debilitating. The human mind just realizes the fatality of the matter and stops trying, in order to conserve energy.

It's not like religion helps either. You cannot pray for people with chronic pain, and have them recover. Nor does religion make you specially equipped to handle the permanence of the condition. For illustration, just think of Paul, who kept asking God to remove his physical condition. God didn't, and Paul just kept asking. And life went on. I bet he eventually stopped asking.

In my experience, there is no way to deal with the long-term impact of chronic pain. You just have to go through it. You can't really resolve it. You can't hope to get better, because the nature of it is that your body cannot. Which is why I wrote in my last post, that you distract yourself. It's that or die. And you can't die, because your illness is not fatal. How ironic.

So now that I've said a whole lot of nothing, I have arrived at my lack of conclusion. There isn't one. It is one of the great mysteries of life, still to be discovered perhaps by an Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein.

Chronic pain means you'll have it for ever. And that's about the short of it. So - now that we've gotten that sobering topic out of the way...let's talk about the Party in the Frying Pan.

You coming? I hear there are good frog legs!!!