When you are disabled or have chronic pain people often say things to you that can sound rude or insensitive. Sometimes people don’t know any better and truly do mean and other times I truly don’t understand what led me, people, to think that these comments would be okay. When you say at least you don’t have cancer or it could be worse in reference to someone’s pain that happens to be one of those times and one of the most insensitive things you could possibly think of. I don’t know what leads people to say it or why they would think these comments would be okay but it’s very dismissive of pain that may not be as serious as some other conditions. If you live with chronic you battle with so much every day and need support from your friends and family to get through it and when your peers are saying comments like this it can be difficult to get that support. If you have ever said comments like this to a disabled or chronic pain sufferer I am going to talk about why it’s not okay so you can stop immediately.
So? It’s not Cancer- Cancer is a painful condition that takes many lives each year and you don’t need to have cancer to know that. Cancer is not the only condition that is debilitating and has a shortened lifespan and there so many others. I knew someone back in high school who had a form of Muscular Dystrophy who passed away due to heart failure but I later found they only had a life expectancy of fifteen. The pain of cancer is probably worse to what I experience every day but that may not be the case for all conditions and some are quite painful and have a significant decrease in quality of life which could be just as bad as the pain of cancer or pretty darn close. How can you compare the pain of cancer to someone’s chronic pain when you know nothing about it? You can’t and there is no way to know which pain is worse unless you have felt both types of pain. The pain of migraines might not be as excruciating as cancer but they are still debilitating and what you feel isn’t any less validating just because you don’t have a more serious condition.
It’s not a competition- If there is one thing that you take away from this post let it be that pain is not a competition. We aren’t competing against each other to see who has worse because literally, no one cares! I don’t care if your pain is higher or lower than mine but what I do care about is how you talk to others about pain and your attitude about it because the number on the pain scale is irrelevant to me and doesn’t have any effect on my life. Worry about you because the pain of others is not your concern and does not affect how you function or your life at all. You should want to help others that are struggling with their pain but there is no award for having the most pain and you shouldn’t feel like you have to outdo your friends because they have more pain than you. Instead, you should be sad for them not trying to outdo them because there is nothing more frustrating than high pain and not being able to do anything about it.
Pain can always be worse- Yes, your right pain can always be worse regardless of what condition you have you’re stating the obvious. Chronic pain sufferers don’t need to hear you say pain could always be worse because we are like “duh” we know that and this is not new information to us. Knowing that it could be much worse doesn’t give sufferers any sense of comfort for their pain but we are glad it hasn’t gotten worse. There is nothing worse than having high pain levels that your medication is no longer treating and nothing you can do to stop it. A decreased quality of life is part of living with chronic pain and when it is decreased even more depression starts to settle in so we can only hope this never happens.
It’s not luck- Are you seriously going to tell me that I am lucky because I only have migraines? I want you to ask anyone who has a migraine disorder or chronic pain if they consider themselves lucky because they have another chronic condition that isn’t cancer. I can almost guarantee that anyone you ask will say absolutely not! Yes, I am glad I have never had something as serious as cancer but just because I have a different condition it doesn’t mean I am grateful for my pain. I have faced many challenges because of Spina Bifida and if I woke up one day and some of these challenges were gone my life would be much easier and I wouldn’t miss my pain. Migraines are debilitating and when you have to revolve your entire life around your pain it can get old quickly. I don’t even remember what life was like before migraines but I can imagine it was probably pretty nice and long to have that life again.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that cancer is a painful condition but it is not the only painful condition and there are so many others that most people have never even heard of or taken a minute to think about. The question I have for you is this: If you have never had cancer and don’t have the chronic condition that you are comparing it to then how do you know which is worse? You don’t! The only way you will ever know which is worse is if you have experienced both types of pain. You can have guesses as to what you think might be worse but sometimes what you think might be worse might not be half as bad as what your friend is experiencing. Judging without is knowledge is unfair and if you want to be supportive of someone’s pain talk about it and get the facts. You may know less than you think about a disability even if you live with a disabled person and have a lot of knowledge on a specific disability because not everything can be found on google. It’s easy to fool a whole room of people by simply showing a smile but it does not mean pain isn’t present and it only shows I have chosen to do my best to stay positive while living with pain. What insensitive comments have people said to you as a disabled person or chronic pain sufferer?