Like I mentioned on Friday – and you’ve heard a million times if you follow me on Twitter – I dislocated my knee on Thursday. I spent the weekend recovering from it, but I was still out and about a little bit. I went to Starbucks to work, to get my hair cut, to the mall to buy new makeup, etc. I still rested most of the weekend, but I wasn’t on full bed rest. This meant that I saw into a lot of people who asked why I was wearing this.
I have no problem telling people why. But their next comment (said by 90% of the people I told) sort of stopped me. “Wow, that must have hurt.”
You’re right. It did hurt. It hurt so much that I cried in the middle of the day. However, it didn’t hurt so badly that I left work early. And, as a whole, I’ve been in much more pain before. The days when I didn’t go into work because I was in too much pain? More pain than dealing with this.
I don’t say this because I want you to feel bad for me. I say this because I feel like it’s a good way to help people who don’t live with chronic pain understand what it is we deal with on a daily basis.
I am someone who lives with chronic pain who works full time. There are people who can’t work full time because of their pain. There are people who work full time who are in more pain than I am. But when someone says to me, “Wow, that must of hurt,” I can shrug my shoulders and say, “I’ve had worse” while being completely honest. Because that’s what living with chronic pain can mean.
According to x-rays, I’ve dislocated my knee before. The x-rays show a thickening along my patella (aka knee cap) and tendon, which demonstrates regular dislocation. Now, this isn’t brand new information to me. I’ve suspected it for a while. But if I think back over the past 3 years, I can remember only 3 or 4 times that I probably dislocated it. Most likely, I have dislocated it much more than that. But Thursday was the first time I went to the ER for it.
How many chronic pain patients are there out there who have a bad pain day and think to themselves, “Wow, that joint really hurts today,” when they actually dislocated it? How many of them didn’t tell anyone because they were afraid that people would think (or worse, say) that they were seeking attention? How many of them needed to go to the hospital to have their joint reset to prevent further damage, but they didn’t because they were afraid to tell anyone?
How many people with chronic pain have had something serious happen to them, but didn’t realize it because they’ve had worse?
We are strong because we have to be, and we have grown stronger through tougher times. But it worries me that maybe there are people who are keeping their strong facade up when something serious has happened to them instead of getting the serious help they need. Please don’t contribute to this by telling people – with your verbal or body language – that they are attention seeking.