It seems crazy to be thankful for the pain we suffer. Who would want to be thankful for chronic or acute pain?
We have patients who have told us some of the actual ways that pain has changed their lives for the better. Here are some of their anecdotes with their names changed to protect their privacy:
“Susie” has suffered cluster headaches on and off. She told us how her headaches forced her to simplify her life, creating working hours that were more nine to five and giving her the ability to say “no” to commitments that before, she felt obligated to say “yes” to.
“Jack” is a recent back pain sufferer. In the past, he used to have a frenetic schedule, filled with things that he loved, like time with friends and family and things that made him less than thrilled like constant errands, work-related socialization and a house he was renovating for resale. When his back problems began, he hired contractors to do the house renovation. He realized that he really could find others to do some of the physical work that he couldn’t rely on himself to do anymore, pain-free. The monetary cost was worth his heath, he decided. Now, Jack is more willing to delegate certain tasks to a select group of people whose standards match his.
“Evelyn” retired years ago, but her fibromyalgia has become more complex. She related to us that lots of things used to bug her in the past: slights from relatives and friends, minor spats with her husband over chores and bills and waiting in lines or on hold. Now that she has to treat herself with kid gloves, slowing down, not overdoing it and being really planful of her time, these things seem much less important than her overall health and well being.
We don’t wish pain on anyone. But we have seen that patients who are able to be positive even as they experience pain are typically motivated to live full, meaningful lives. Furthermore, they are excellent partners with their health care team as we work together towards their recovery and healing.