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Living With Chronic Pain

Great Expectations

Perhaps one of the most stressful aspects of living with chronic pain is fear of the future. Will you need painful surgery? Will you be able to continue working at your current job? Will you be able to care for your children or grandchildren? Will you be able to afford expensive treatments?
 
Sometimes, healthcare providers get in the habit of constantly "putting out fires" by dealing only with the problems at hand, without taking time to discuss or plan for the future. Make sure to take the initiative and ask about the probable course of your condition. Ask questions like, "How long will the steroid injections continue to work?" and "When do you think surgery will be necessary, and how much time will it take to recover?" Don't hesitate to ask about cost, and don't be embarrassed to admit if a suggested treatment is too expensive.
 

Ditch Your Pride

By this, we're suggesting that you accept and admit your physical limitations. Yes, your painful back condition may prevent you from helping your friend or neighbor move. But instead of being embarrassed and making excuses to avoid the situation, be honest and find other ways to be helpful.
 
Simply state that your chronic pain prevents you from lifting heavy objects, and ask if you can be helpful in another way, such as by providing refreshments for other helpers. Definitely don't ignore your painful condition and your physical limitations (say, by lifting heavy objects), which will simply aggravate your pain and might even cause permanent damage.
 

Final Thoughts

Living with chronic pain can be much like riding a roller coaster. Some days will be better than others. But the longer you ride, the more experience you gain. You'll learn to predict and prepare for the bumps along the way. You'll learn what works for you -- and what doesn't. Armed with a great healthcare provider, great support, and a positive but realistic attitude, a life with chronic pain can still be a life well lived. 
 
Warning: 10 Hidden Sources of Lactose
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