It’s More Than Just The Pain
Everybody deals with pain. It is likely everyone will experience chronic pain at some point, defined as at least 90 days of unresolved pain. I’ve realized by talking to people about what we do in the Broken and Mended ministry that a lot of people don’t understand the need for intentional support. They’ve experienced pain, and it was unpleasant, but they didn’t need any special emotional or spiritual support for it. So, why all this effort to raise funds, create materials and content, and a community for people living with chronic pain?
I often prefer the word “chronic illness” to give a fuller sense of what is happening with those who need extra support, but whatever term we use, people need to understand that there are levels to this struggle. Those who do not grasp the need for intentional support of people struggling with chronic pain and/or illness, probably just haven’t encountered it at the level of those who do know their need for it.
My own struggles started with hip injuries that led to surgery 14 months later. After the first 90 days, my symptoms fit any definition for chronic pain. Yet, if the situation had resolved after my post-surgery physical therapy, well, let’s just say we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Broken and Mended wouldn’t exist, and I would have seen that period of my life as a blip on the radar.
It didn’t resolve. I only fell further down the medical rabbit hole. It still isn’t resolved 12 years later. That’s what we (those who need the support) need others to understand: When the pain remains unresolved for years on end, it leaves a massive debris field in its wake.
The pain itself can be unrelenting and intense. Often debilitating symptoms emerge that can extinguish a career or greatly limit opportunities. The medical bills and other related medical costs can become the size of full-fledged four-year college student loans, and the actual student loans don’t go away either. The guilt the sufferer feels for the burgeoning financial burden and inability to fulfill household roles can become crushing.
The occurrence of mental health issues is much higher in the chronic pain community than in the general population (as is suicide). Relationships suffer from isolation. Intimacy with a spouse can be greatly impacted. Hobbies are significantly curtailed or ended. Maintaining an active lifestyle seems like another life. Maintaining a healthy weight becomes difficult, or in some cases, impossible.
Long-term hopes and dreams are dashed. Life looks nothing like the one the sufferer used to enjoy or had once envisioned. They might struggle to stay connected to their church, and their faith may suffer.
Do you now begin to see that it isn’t just the pain? Can you appreciate that if you were suffering some combination of just this partial description of difficult circumstances you might need support?
My aim in this post is to increase understanding and empathy for those who suffer from unresolved chronic pain with no end in sight. That’s a worthy goal in itself, but if you want to do more to bless those who are hurting in this way, please consider a donation to our “Mission of Mercy” campaign. The money given will allow us to reach more hurting people by equipping them with resources and support groups that “connect hurting people to Jesus and each other.”
Whether you can help financially right now or not, you can bring a hurting friend or loved one a cup of coffee or whatever they like. Sit with them; listen to them; believe them, and pray for them. They will see you as a friend who can be counted on and one who truly wants to understand. Take it from a fellow sufferer; that is a priceless gift!
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