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Speaking of pain...

Isn't it always the way that when you finish a project, research comes out the next week which would've helped you? Well, that's how life works for me. And, like clockwork, two studies have been published/publicized that point out some reasons why I've struggled to blog as frequently as I'd like to. Memory and language.

Describing pain is the focus of one of the studies. The study found that women may be at a disadvantage as far as getting treatment for pain because of the way they describe their pain. We tend to describe how it impacts us, and not so much what qualities it has This is tru; I'm more likely to tell you that I can't sleep than describe my pain in concrete terms, although that is something I want to get better at. I have a hard time thinking of words to describe it, though, unless I hear them.

For example, I sometimes have to pick from a list of words, such as aching and burning. If you ask me to describe pain, I'm perplexed as to how you want me to describe it. Sometimes, I find it easier to describe functional stuff, probably because I am used to that method of communication. It's much easier for me to tell you how something affects me than use a faces pain scale, for obvious reasons. And if you go by non-verbals, I don't know how helpful that will be, because I work hard to conceal the fact that I'm in pain. I don't want to be no fun to be around. As a side note, people who know me are more likely to notice subtle things after a whille.
More Difficult For Doctors To Diagnose Complex Sources Of Pain In Women Than In Men

The other article on memory also doesn't surprise me. Remind me, again, how I'm supposed to remember anything on high pain days? To me, it's like asking someone to remember anything under high stress. We forget things we should know on a final if we're too stressed out. And people who are in acute pain aren't expected to remember everything. I think it's very similar for me, with chronic pain. My CRPS seems to constantly change, and constantly prove to me that I will not die at a higher pain level, and no matter how painful something is, it can get worse. Naturally, I prefer not to think this way. I always hope that things will get better. I know that I can have more control of my pain if I do certain things. I know that there are always options, and there have always been people who care enough. So, let's not get hung up on the "things can always get worse statement".

What I mean, is that CRPS hasn't been a constant, steady level of pain that never changes. So it's not something you can just tune out, and in that sense, the body is under stress. So memory is logically not always going to be there.
Chronic pain can drive you to distraction
Chronic pain may dim memory.

Less I sound too cynical, I do want to say that I am glad that studies are proving these things. I don't think we should depend on studies for our whole validation, but they can be helpful for dealing with people who don't believe these other aspects of life with pain. We need more studies like this, and we need to validate the experiences of people with these types of symptoms.

Comments

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vip_uc
Jul. 22nd, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
Speaking eloquenly about pain
Brilliant piece of writing, Nickie, well-put, true-to-life, andsaid with real feeling.

I'm blind, which is why I ended up finding your blog, but my other half has some sort of chronically painful condition, not that we actually know what it is.

We've certainly come across the problem of a woman's way of describing things to a male doctor and maybe staff in the social security office, who are also wedded to an over-male view of the world. Simple example: none of these people seem to understand that sometimes the pain means 7 pills a day, other days it might mean 12. "Sometimes" is just too complicated a concept.

And the memory thing is spot-on. You're not going to have a lot of head-room to remember and organize things if your nervous system is overrun by pain.

I'm another one who's glad to see these observations supported by studies. Now all we've got to do is get various service providers to read them!

My wife doesn't want to be this pain-filled, angry, humourless person she is on some days (no blame attached, but the painful condition does make things pretty difficult).

I really hope things can go well for you, and I'm not going to come out with some silly platitude about it, like, "Blind, eh? Bet you're cheerful and musical" - Ughghgh!
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