Do you remember the last time that you fell & you were bruised? Do you remember how badly it hurt, how distracting it was, how you couldn’t get your mind off of the pain? But after awhile you were feeling better and you were glad that the pain went away. You could get on with your life.
Now imagine if that pain, but worse, never went away.
That’s what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I have lived with chronic pain since 2002, after a man ran through a red light and “T-boned” our car. I’m not alone, because 100 million Americans live with chronic daily pain. That’s more than the number of Americans living with heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. In terms of impact, chronic pain is the leading cause of long term disability and its cost (including lost productivity and treatment expenses) is higher than $635 billion annually.
Pain has affected every aspect of my and my family’s life. I’ve not been able to work, and a large part of our expenses goes towards my healthcare. Also, the number of office visits has now doubled because of these new CDC guidelines. That means double co-pays, double the amount of time driving and having my husband leave work to take me to the Dr. appointments. My husband is retiring and instead of taking it easy, he takes care of all the household responsibilities. Therefore, I miss out in spending that time with him. I also cannot do the things that I used to love, like going shopping with my friends. Going out to lunch with the girls, and going for long walks. I’ll most likely never be able to actually walk on a beach while being barefoot in the sand.
Despite the prevalence and consequence of chronic pain, people with pain are very much overlooked and under treated. People who live with daily chronic pain are often labeled as “lazy” or over dramatic and not taken seriously. Very few treatments such as physical therapy and even most durable medical equipment are not fully covered by insurance. As of today, less than 1% of the National Institute of Health’s budget goes towards pain research.
It’s no surprise that those living with daily pain are suffering-and not just physically. In one survey, more than half of the respondents felt that they had little or no control over their pain and more than ¾ reported feeling depressed. In fact, research has shown that Chronic Pain patients are twice as likely to commit suicide as the average person. Many chronic pain patients feel alone with their pain and they become cut-off from society and friendships that they once cherished. I can speak from experience when discussing the feelings of aloneness. You can have loving people in your immediate household, but still feel alone with the pain. I speak of this from experience because I was feeling isolated and as though no one was listening to my pleas. That was until I got connected to and started volunteering for the U.S. Pain Foundation.
People with pain, like me deserve better. My family deserves better. Imagine if we took that $635 billion in lost productivity and health care costs and invested it in preventative care, new treatments, research and emotional support for pain patients? In honor of September as Pain Awareness Month, I encourage all Michiganders to join me in advocating for positive change for the pain community. Our Governor, Rick Snyder and the Supervisor of Canton Twp. Michigan have joined me in helping to raise awareness this month. They’ve each signed a Proclamation & a Resolution proclaiming that in Canton Twp.and in all of our great state of Michigan, they are recognizing September as “Pain Awareness Month” for 2017! To learn more or to become involved, visit: http://www.uspainawarenessmonth.org ,