Chronic pain is something that plagues more people than we often realize. Those suffering from chronic pain fluctuate between mild discomfort to debilitating suffering, and often conventional medicine dictates that pain is treated with heavy doses of medicine. There is still so much that we don't know about chronic pain, but by talking to those affected by it and trying to understand, we may be better positioned to help comfort those who are suffering.
Why drugs may not be the answer for chronic pain
Typically when we are in severe pain, we are prescribed strong medications and opioids, sometimes even in a cocktail of pills that can leave us feeling drained, groggy, foggy-headed, and even incapacitated. While they may temporarily relieve pain, it is often that the body becomes used to drugs and therefore requires increased dosage over time. We have seen how easily patients can become addicted to pain medications, simply replacing one problem of chronic pain, with another serious problem of drug dependence.
It is true that we need to focus on relieving people's pain. Allowing people to suffer with pain is not only immoral, it's essentially torture, and not everyone is able to receive the care that they need to fight their chronic pain. Healing can be a positive and effective method of pain relief, though not everyone has access to this kind of care.
What living with chronic pain feels like
Speaking with Lieve Deckers, a sufferer of chronic pain, you begin to understand just how difficult it is to live a normal life. Her story began several years ago, when she began to suffer from what she describes as burning sensations in her neck and chest, all the way down to her stomach. Hospitalized for the pain, she received a gastric bypass surgery, which proved to only add to the daily pain that she still continues to feel. Says Lieve: "Since then I never been without pain. The worst pain I feel right now is pain from the abdomen down to my bottom. It feels like you are wrapped into a bandage and they are tightening it until you feel you are choking, you have no air left."
To treat her chronic pain, doctors have prescribed Lieve an enormous amount of pain killers. "I’m taking now 8 pills of tramadol retard 100 mg and 8 g of paracetamol each day to feel a bit comfortable," says Lieve. "The tramadol is a medicine, a painkiller that is related to morphine, and I’m taking 4 times the amount they give to cancer patients." This is all to treat pain that Lieve describes as "the blindness - the tinnitus in my ears that makes you going crazy because you hear steam engines all day, and sometimes drums that are playing like bizarre music in your brain. So they cause headaches like you wanna run into a wall so you really know where all the pain is coming from."
Living a normal life through healing chronic pain
More than just the extreme discomfort that Lieve and others like her feel, is the inability for them to go about their daily lives. "You feel tired all day," says Lieve. "I can’t tell you what the rest of the pain in my back, legs, arms and hands is like. It feels like your brain is telling you to do something... it’s like something is putting you down every time you try to get up, you wanna lift something, you try to do something."
It's difficult to imagine not being able to do simple daily tasks such as cooking, or laundry, or walking to the store. But that is the reality for so many chronic pain sufferers. We need to do all that we can to help these people find relief, ease their pain through methods that don't require constant medicinal use, and help them to access holistic healthcare.
Please consider donating this holiday season to help more people like Lieve access the complementary healthcare that they so desperately need to simply live normal lives. You can become part of a global community of healers and champions for those who live in emotional and physical pain, who need better care and more readily available options for treatment.