It is Pain Awareness month 2023 and as I have lived with chronic pain for over twenty years, I thought we would have a chat about it.
During Pain Awareness Month 2023, I am reminded that many people get confused when it comes to pain, just as they do when we talk about fatigue, because everyone has experienced pain and tiredness. However, when it is pain that never goes, it becomes harder to for most people.
This is why it is so important for us as advocates to speak up and be honest about the way we feel and the pain we are in. Raising awareness can only help people to understand what we live with every day, and hopefully will help healthcare professionals understand what we need.
The estimate of 43% (28 million people) in the UK with chronic pain is considerably higher than a previously quoted figure of 7.8 million people with ‘chronic pain’.bmj.com
I was referred to two different pain management clinics, the first I had a consultation with, but they said they wouldn’t see me again. The other did not even send me an appointment, just a letter saying there was nothing they could do for me.
Both of these left me feeling defeated, I love our NHS, but I do wish they saw us as whole beings and incorporated holistic or natural remedies along with modern tablets. I have been told by a few doctors there is nothing else they can give me, yet I am currently experiencing a lot of breakthrough pain due to a relapse.
The fear that I experience daily that I will have to suffer with this level of pain or worse as my illnesses progress is so hard to deal with. I am often left wondering if there is anything I can do, I exercise when I can, but what else can I do?
This pain awareness month is concentrating on the “importance of an individualized, multidisciplinary, and multimodal approach to pain care.” In my opinion it is invaluable, if my doctors and the pain management team saw me as an individual and worked together, I am sure they could find a way for my pain to be looked after better.
An NHS Digital survey found that [NHS Digital, 2019]:
The prevalence of chronic pain amongst adults was 34% and it was more common in women (38%) than in men (30%).
Prevalence of chronic pain increased with age, ranging from 16% among people aged 16–24 years to 53% among those aged 75 years and over.nice.org.uk
As it is, I read articles and look to other people with the same illnesses as I have for ideas as to control or manage my pain. More than that I need ways and ideas to live my best life while struggling with pain every day all day at levels most people could not cope with.
These fears can never go, not until those of us who are disabled are treated as human beings, not just someone to give tablets to and never treat the illness itself. It is so sad to see that we are still having to fight just to be seen as a human being, and it makes me feel so vulnerable.
I am struggling due to this recent flare, yet it doesn’t seem that is going to be easy to get support, and that is why awareness months are so important. I hope that medical professionals listen and start to change how they see us, that is all we can do hope and try not to worry.
Once again, we are left feeling vulnerable and afraid and we shouldn’t none of us chose these illnesses or to be in chronic pain. We need help, but coming from my own experience will that happen, or will we continue just being given medication to mask the problem?
Many of us hate taking medication with the side effects that can cause further problems, maybe in the future this will change; I hope so. Until then, I will continue to support pain awareness month and try to create that change.
Thank you xx