Today we had our annual boiler service after a frustrating afternoon yesterday, sitting in waiting for an engineer to arrive. The phone call came at 5.15 to tell us he was stuck on an emergency – really? You couldn’t have called before?
Anyway the engineer duly arrived this morning, just as I was getting ready to go out for coffee with a friend. I found myself apologising as I walked into the kitchen and gave him an eyeful of plasters and gauze, as I was adjusting my jeans waistband over the top of everything. This led to me explaining I had just had surgery, one thing led to another and, as my kids would moan, I gave him my story – “omg, here we go. Why do you have to always tell people?” ,”maybe because they ask!” – and he proceeded to tell me about his brother.
As a 12 year old boy he was involved in a hit and run, which has left him with disabilities that have worsened with age. He has had numerous prolapsed discs, the same old story with lower limb problems and various surgeries over the years. He worked as a carer for adults with learning difficulties but has had to stop, and is now living with chronic pain on a cocktail of drugs. All by the age of 40……life begins and all that! My buddies from St T’s and those on the PainSupport forums will all recognise this story.
I suppose my reason for mentioning this, is that most of us have no idea of the number of people living with chronic pain everyday for years, in this case for a lifetime. Chronic pain is not like a broken limb or even a disease like cancer – it cannot be seen, there is nothing to cure and the sufferer often looks “well”. The effects can truly only be understood by others who have suffered – the way in which it silently encroaches on all areas of your life, taking the joy out of simple pleasures, can be truly devastating. I really believe that I would be a much better nurse now, with a deeper, first hand understanding of my patients’ hopes and fears because of my own experiences.
So, the British Gas man went home to his brother armed with the hospital details for the programme, this blog and my contact details – just to know that you aren’t going through this alone and there is someone there who really does understand what you are going through, makes this world of chronic pain a slightly easier to place to inhabit. To be continued…