While on Facebook the other day I got a message from my sister-in-law. The message she sent was actually meant for someone else, but since the conversation was started, we continued it. She asked what I was doing and I told her I was in bed. I guess it was around 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. She said (note: this is a general interpretation since the conversation was in another language and some things just don’t translate. In other words, it might sound a little funny), “what, are you still sick?” My answer to her was “More or less. I’m actually better after recovering from a UTI.” Her response to that was “when is it not raining on your head?” I tried to laugh the snide comment off by jokingly saying “I know, right? It’s just one thing after another.” I thought that would be the end of it, but then she says “well, just take them [illnesses] out of your body, don’t let them stay” (basically meaning that I have some control over this…possibly that I’m making it up?) Of course, I’m not going to let that slide, so I responded “I would love that, but the surgeon tried that already. He says it’s too dangerous to remove them [adhesions]”
At the time, the conversation continued so I just let it go. Well, I guess I forgot about it. Until today. This is the same one who said to me before: “well, when you hurt, just tell yourself you’re not hurting and you’ll be ok.” Geez, don’t I wish it was that easy? Obviously she doesn’t understand what’s wrong with me, or maybe she just doesn’t care to. I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do know is that I have gotten to the point that I dread talking to her. I know she’s going to ask how I am and I know that my answer will not be “great!” I will no longer go into detail trying to explain my illness to her, but I won’t pretend that everything is exemplary. I will continue to say “fine” or “more or less”. It’s not that I’m pessimistic, it’s just how things are.
In contrast, I got a message from another sister-in-law a couple of weeks ago. She wanted me to know that she had read my blog and that up until then she hadn’t realized how serious things really are for me. She said that she can only imagine the pain that I deal with on a day to day basis. She commended me for making the 12 hour (which turned into 14 hrs. thanks to the dogs) trip to Michigan in August. She said that she doesn’t travel because of how tiring it is, so the thought that I made the trip in as much pain as I am in just really impressed her.
Her message actually made me cry tears of relief that SOMEBODY in this family. I thanked her for making my day. This difference in what these two family members said to me was astronomical – at least to me it was.
If you’re reading this blog because you too are in pain, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re reading because you have a loved one in pain and would like to understand them better, then I applaud you. If you’re reading this blog for the hell of it, then do me a favor and google “what not to say to someone with chronic pain” (caregivers you can do this too). You will find plenty of articles about what to and what not to say to someone in chronic pain. Read one and then store that information. When I did it just now, one of the first to pop up with both lists was mdjunction.com (For what NOT to say to someone in chronic pain and for what TO say to someone in chronic pain Check out these links). Like I said, just store that information and keep it with you because you might someday need it. I wish the first sister-in-law cared enough to do the same. What she doesn’t know is how incredibly strong I am.