This is Part II of a three part series on dealing with chronic pain. To read the previous article, click here.
My interview with Nicole Hemmenway as she discusses her new book, No, It is Not in My Head: The Journey of a Chronic Pain Survivor from Wheelchair to Marathon.
Nicole, you’ve had an incredible experience. At what point in your journey did you decide to write a book?
After living in chronic, debilitating pain without the use of my right hand for two and half years, I began to look outside the box. I began to search for other treatment options that may bring me some relief while the medical field found a cure. It was during this time of self-discovery that I realized I wanted to—I need to—share my story so others would feel comfortable sharing theirs. I felt that while I was not “healed,” I still had a lot to offer the pain community.
As I spoke to my pain specialist about this urge to help others living in chronic pain, he connected me with the executive director of the National Pain Foundation. The NPF immediately embraced me and validated my pain. As they made it possible for me to candidly talk about my pain, my struggles, my fears and my hopes, I found my voice. I found that we all can make a difference. We can all inspire…and we are never alone.
What advice can you give to those that are around people suffering with chronic pain?
Caregivers are the silent heroes; they are the ones who lift us when we fall, carry us when we cannot walk, and hold us when we are sad. My caregivers allowed me to keep believing in a pain-free life. They motivated me to keep fighting and stood by me through the good and bad. My family and friends were with me in my darkest days, and I am eternally grateful. In fact, I owe my newfound happiness to my family and friends. I am living today because of their constant love, encouragement and unbelievable patience.
To the amazing caregivers of the world, I would like to thank you for a being a lifeline in your loved ones life. Having to stand on the sidelines and watch those you adore suffer is heart wrenching. You feel helpless, you become irritable, you question how you can go on…and then you pull yourself together, and push forward. Thank you.
If I could offer some advice, it would for you to believe in your loved ones’ suffering. Chronic pain is intangible, subjective and personal; therefore, every person has a different level of tolerance and a personal way of defining the intensity of his or her suffering. For this reason alone, many people living in pain are judged and ridiculed.
This happened to me. Because I was young and vivacious, upbeat and optimistic, and I laughed and smiled, it was very difficult for people to understand the magnitude of my illness or the intensity of my pain. Thankfully, my caregivers believed in me, and promised to help me recover. I encourage all of you to do the same as well.
My final piece of advice would be for you to become a source of hope for those in pain. Chronic pain persons need reassurance that hope exists, that the pain will not last forever. Be that positive light in their lives.
To read more of Nicole’s amazing story, click Pain: A survivor’s journey Part III .
© 2010 Robin Cain http://www.robincain.com