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Is It Really In Your Head

There is something that has pissed the fuck out of me for years. Way before I truly understood what pain was and was watching my mom suffer with pain. Okay, there are more than just this one thing, but I am going to pace myself and start with just this one thing. 

It is in your head!

So many people, even medical professionals use this term when discussing Chronic Pain. Scratch that. Not ‘even' medical professionals, ESPECIALLY medical professionals. Many times this is one of the reasons we don’t trust them. 

I have been going to the pain clinic at our local hospital for a few years now. I started shortly after my second surgery on the same hip. The pain wasn’t getting any better and the hip injections that the surgeon was having me do were giving me zero relief. I was at the point where I couldn’t walk much at all and the dark thoughts were getting darker because I was tired from lack of sleep. My pain doctor had tried to get me to be part of the pain clinics interdisciplinary group for a while. I kept saying no because I didn’t want to take meds that while they may help with the pain for a bit, they would also make me gain weight. I already felt like a fat fuck, I didn’t want to have fewer clothes that fit and more thoughts on how my husband finds me disgusting. (I am including this bit for said husband. MY HUSBAND DOES NOT THINK I AM A FAT FUCK OR A FAT CUNT. HE DOES STILL FIND ME ATTRACTIVE AND STILL TRULY ENJOYS GETTING FUNKY WITH ME! It is me and my head that feel otherwise. NOT HIM.) Also, another side note, can they not find a med that helps with pain and DOESN’T have any possible weight gain side effects? I mean come on! 

After my last spinal that gave me two to three weeks of blessed pain relief, my doctor said that it should have given me months of pain relief. He didn’t want to continue with them and since we had exhausted the injections that could work on my hip, he once again brought up the group. He made it sound like this was the only other alternative and that he truly believed it could help me. Up to this point he was the second doctor who I actually believed LISTENED to me and also actually HEARD what I had been saying. So I reluctantly agreed. Reluctantly being the key word. My therapist and family doctor had me agree to at least try it for a few months. I was going to. That is until the initial meeting. 

The meeting was 45 minutes of my life I will NEVER get back. EVER. It was done through zoom and while the hospital prides itself on privacy and will fire ANY staff member they feel breaks any privacy, the names of the participants were listed. There actual names. I can hear people saying, yes but if it were in person you would see who was there. That is not the same. I may see your face but chances of me remembering your face while having brain fog his highly un-fucking-likely. The chance of someone scrolling through the names and seeing who is there and doing google searches on them is more likely to happen because while you are listening to them tell you the same fucking things you have heard for years from most of the medical professionals you have seen, you have time to do these things. Anyway, that was a HUGE turn off for me. The second was when the physiotherapist conducting the meeting said that it was all in our heads. That we need to stop seeking any medical help with our pain because again it was all in our heads. She then provided medical studies to back that up.

That fucking phrase needs to die. Truly! Also if I had not continued going to the doctors about my pain I would have continued to do more damage to the nerves in my body and my joints. Why would I do this if I was in pain you ask? That is what I was told repeatedly. I was constantly being told by the various doctors I saw that I just need to strengthen the muscles and it would get better. Do your squats and continue to run but maybe cut down the distance for a bit. It was my chiropractor at the time that was the one telling me that I either had to give up kickboxing or running the stairs. Then that I had to give up this or this. Eventually it was stop running and start cycling instead because it is easier on your joints. Eventually I lost that too though.

The other issue I had with the group was that it wasn’t individually based. It was group based. I was made to understand that it was group for the initial meeting then individual. Nope. You were split into groups of 8 I believe and then everything, even suggestions were group based. Yep, I will pass. I had my team of chiropractor, Massage and Physio and was happy with them. I couldn’t see them for what they were originally for anymore because any touch sent me into a flare up. I am currently only see my physio for heat therapy and my chiro for my neck. So yeah, I am not going to gain a new team this far into my journey especially if you aren’t doing individual. 

Let’s talk about that phrase. When someone says it is in your head, what do you as a chronic pain sufferer hear? This is what I hear. I hear that it is something I am making up. It is something that I am thinking and therefore it is happening. This is also what those who don’t suffer from chronic pain think. It is also why they look at us and think we are just trying to get attention. See here is the thing. It is what I told my family doctor when we were discussing the group at my last appointment. On a daily, I think negative shit. I think of dark things and happy things. I have so many fucking thoughts going through my HEAD why the fucking hell would I also think that I need to have this pain. Why would I think that I want it. I then explained to him that THIS right here is what we hear when we hear that it is just in our fucking heads. It is also what every other fucking person without pain thinks of when they hear that it is in our heads. He then explained to me how our brains have rewired how we process pain. Okay then that would be neuropathic would it not? Yes it would make it neuropathic. I looked at him and was like EXACTLY! It is NOT in our heads because to everyone this means thoughts. It is in fact a NEUROPATHIC issue within our brains causing us to deal with what would be normal pain to most as extreme pain. Yes! Was his reply. 

Here is my challenge to you. Whenever anyone and I mean ANYONE, including doctors, says that it is in our heads, stop them and correct them. Tell them that it is not in our heads but rather a neuropathic issue within our brain. We NEED to change the wording for this so that people can begin to see that we are NOT making it up. That we are not pretending to be in fucking deadly agony one day while smiling or having what others feel is a normal day the next. Just because we are looking normal and smiling doesn’t mean we aren’t in pain. 


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