Stop hurting others – National Report on Pain


This is a very difficult subject to discuss! This problem often involves a loving, well-intentioned family member or friend as a cause of unintentional pain and sometimes long-standing pain. It is lived by those who suffer from chronic diseases. Over the last ten years, I have been hurt repeatedly by caring and caring people. I therefore sincerely hope that this article will educate both the general public and, more importantly, people who regularly deal with people with chronic illnesses.

I can personally attest to having suffered many physical setbacks as a result of the damage done by these well meaning individuals. The emotional toll can be overwhelming, because such setbacks, though unintentional, are useless. The patient with chronic pain experiences additional pain that can cause considerable psychological damage. It is incumbent on all of us to try to understand the impact of our actions on how we interact with people suffering from chronic pain and other unique medical conditions. Please, take the time to educate yourself on how to not hurt someone else by mistake, for lack of understanding.

Ellen Lenox Smith

There are so many conditions that we can meet that in many cases they are invisible to the naked eye. I have lived with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disease that prevents the body from producing healthy collagen, the glue that keeps the body together. Without healthy collagen, tendons and ligaments can not do their job. Instead of keeping the joints in place, they stretch and can cause intense and often chronic pain. A simple hug can move the skeletal frame so that the bones move, causing subluxations or even dislocations. I know it sounds hard to believe, but it's real and can be extremely painful. A person living with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) experiences burning pain that another can not see. A simple brush against their skin creates an excruciating pain that can last a long time. If you recover from a sprain or fracture, simply tapping the area to be a generous gesture can cause pain and, in some cases, additional damage. People suffer from sickle cell disease, migraines, shingles, frozen shoulder, bone fractures, disks, kidney stones, trauma, headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, gout, sciatica, endometriosis, stomach ulcers, trigeminal neuralgia, appendicitis and headache, peptic ulcers, acute pancreatitis, post-surgical pain, to name only a few. some, many around you are struggling with pain and need you to be careful to touch them! No one has asked to face these conditions, but your damage is not intentional, but they are also very preventable.

After now twenty-four surgeries, I have to deal with a calmer and predictable lifestyle. I was a teacher and my life was marked by intense social interaction, which I loved and on which I thrived. But I have now become cautious and sometimes fearful of what was once the source of that joy and meaning. Social interactions, which so often lead to healthy and normal physical interactions, have often resulted in injury and pain, requiring weeks of healing and recovery. I am often deprived of rewarding and healthy activities that I had taken back even though they were limited. What is simple for you becomes weeks of healing for me. Let me give you an example:

  • Recently, after speaking in front of a group at an event, sharing the number of surgeries that I had undergone, including mergers at the neck, a woman from the audience came to wish me good luck in me taking by the neck to pull me towards her. This caused subluxation of the shoulder, tracheal displacement, subluxation of the ribs and a decrease in oxygen level. Despite the many appointments with the physiotherapist since, the trauma lasts because of the swelling that occurs to reposition the bones properly. So I will work to calm the body for weeks.

It's just an example of what can happen when you do not think about touching another. The list of conditions that cause medical problems is too long to publish, but the choices you can make to not cause harm to another person are there for you:

For healthy touch

  • First, never feel embarrassed or uncomfortable asking people with chronic conditions what is the least harmful way to approach and interact with them. You do not want to hurt them and no patient wants more pain and disruption in his life.
  • Think first and take precautions before touching
  • Remember to ask, "Is it safe to touch you?
  • Consider other ways to express your admiration, your love or just a hello in addition to touching you – a smile, a conversation, a kind word or a gesture.

For the person who can be damaged

  • Consider sharing a kind of medical alert at a meeting – possibly wearing a splint even unnecessary for alertness or even a mask

Nobody wants to touch anyone with a mask assuming that it is contagious.

  • Remember to do what is done before communion when you do not want to participate – put your arms crossed on your chest.
  • Consider in advance friends of the issue to be touched before a rally.
  • Ask close friends and family to try to create a safety net by intervening in interactive social contexts as a protective barrier, warning well-intentioned people not to act in such a way as to intentionally hurt you.

I would like to have all the answers to prevent the damage that continues to happen to me and other people, by people trying to show us kindness. If you have other suggestions to share, consider publishing them at the end of this article. We must help educate others about the harmful and lasting consequences of a simple touch for a patient experiencing a painful health problem.

May life be kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It hurts like hell !: I live with pain and I lead a good life, anyway, and My life as an assistance dog!

The information in this column should not be considered professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This is only information and represents only the author's opinions. It does not express or intrinsically reflect the views, opinions and / or positions of the national report on pain.

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for the US Pain Foundation's medical cannabis advocacy, with Ellen on the board. They also sit on the board of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information on medical cannabis, visit their website.

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