I have been suffering from chronic pain in my back for almost two years. As I'm sure many of you will have experienced, I spent a huge amount of time and money trying to get someone to take me seriously and to find a diagnosis for what was wrong with me. I have been to numerous doctors, physios, alternative health care professionals - you name it, I've been there! I have also been seeing a counsellor for about 18 months which has helped somewhat. Finally in December of last year I was lucky enough to be referred to an excellent pain management programme, where I learnt that chronic pain was the medical diagnosis for my pain.
The pain management programme was excellent and to finally understand what was wrong, how it was happening and to be able to have contact with other people like me was brilliant. I finally felt like I was getting somewhere. I spent four weeks on the course and was filled with hope that life could be managable, something that I had not felt in a very long time. I was given a great deal of exercises and activities to continue with once I completed the course, which I have pretty much stuck to religiously and have found very useful. I was also given a timer to time all my activities (e.g. only sitting for 20 mins at a time) which has really helped, although not being able to sit for more than 20 mins at a time can get pretty annoying at times! I won't sit here and make out like the pain has been magically cured, it hasn't. The exercises allow me to maintain a managable level of pain most of the time, but its still there. And I still have days of increased pain (I am currently in my 3rd day of a flare up, as they called it in the programme).
The pain is horrible and it is hard, but at the moment I am finding the psychological side of chronic pain very hard to deal with. I don't know how I am supposed to accept that this will never be cured, that to a certain extent I will not be able to do all the things that I once would not have thought twice about. I am only in my early 20s, so this is the time when all my friends are out partying, or moving out or starting new relationships, progressing in their careers. Some are even having babies! I feel completely left behind. I spend most of my time doing exercises infront of the TV, watching TV or trying to cope with the fact that I feel like I have lost part of myself. I only now work part time, so I can't really make any career progress as I am just struggling to try to get back up to working full time. I can go out for dinner but clubs and bars that are busy are out of the question for now, which means much my social life and many of my friendships have gone.
I feel completely lost. I suppose that's the best way to describe it. The majority of my friends don't want to understand what is happening to me. I try and communicate with them, I have even given them copies of an excellent hand out provided my the pain management programme, however, for the most part I am told "That's really good, so you'll be back to normal before long then" or "Don't worry, just keep positive!". I can't say that if roles were reversed I wouldn't say something unhelpful like this, but I know that I would at least try to be understanding. At the moment it feels very much like this has been going on for a while and I should be better now. People who in the beginning were very good I think are now fed up with it. I didn't talk about very much in the first place,o only to people who were understanding but now I don't even feel I can talk to them.
I am sorry that this is a very rambling post. In someways, it's just good to get it out there, even if no one responds! However, if you are reading this, I would appreciate any advice on how you have dealt with the emotional and psychological side of chronic pain. I have no idea where I'm supposed to go from here and how I am supposed to live with chronic pain for the rest of my life surrounded by people who will never understand what it is like.
Thank you in advance for any support/advice you can offer.