Sending Bon Courage from Switzerland for People Living in Pain

A recent study by the Institute of Medicine estimated that at a cost of $635 billion, 116 million American adults suffer from chronic pain, which is greater than the total of those afflicted with heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined.

I am one of them.

And that’s only in the USA, but pain is indiscriminate. It crosses national boundaries, economic borders and ethnic lines.

Pain is a strange bedfellow. When you are in pain, you can’t focus on anything else, but once it subsides, it is difficult to perceive exactly what it felt like.

Whether you suffer from ankle sprain, knee strain, back pain, brain drain,
Bladder, blood, bone, breast or one of the hundreds of cancer,
Headache, stomach ache, toothache, earache, or any body part ache
Arthritis, bursitis, colitis, encephalomyelitis
Polymyalgia, fibromyalgia, neuralgia or any of the algias
Multiple sclerosis, dermatomyositis, sarcoïdosis
Or one of the umpteen syndromes,
Whatever the name, no matter the ailment,
Pain becomes your partner.

Winter accentuates the pain; every cells aches.  The cold damp seeps into my bones. Viruses proliferate, bacteria run wild, and influenzas rampage.  I want to pull a blanket over my head and hibernate until spring.

Yet I roll out of bed every morning. I move. One. Step. Forward.

Chronic pain may subside temporarily, but it comes back to haunt you. Over time it wears down resistance, breaks spirit, zaps energy, steals joy, robs the soul.

Pain makes you set your jaw; your eyes grow falsely bright with anxiety. How long will it last? How can I endure the next hour of work? What can I do to minimize the intensity?

Pain interrupts the best-laid plans and interferes with long held dreams. Pain rules.

What do fighters do when they can’t fight back?

Take a time out. Return to your corner. Close the shutters. Stop of the noise. Rest up.

Give into the burning, stabbing, searing spasms. « Time out » is especially difficult for old athletes, trained to suck it up and get on with it. But as my body screams, I shut out society. I retreat to a dark, quiet room and let the douleur wash over me, surround me, embalm me. And I look to others for inspiration.

Like my eighty-year-old dad, who after his fourth surgery last year, willed himself to sit straight and raise dumb bells to strengthen shoulder muscles. He lifted the same two-pound weights my grandfather hoisted when his legs grew too shaky to stand from Parkinson disease. Or my brothers-in-law who battled back from heart operations without missing a beat.

I look to my daughter, an intern longing for a day off, yet working 13-hour shifts 24/7, because like all doctors, she knows that chronically ill children never get  a holiday.

Though my body may be broken and my spirit weary, I get by- With a Little Help From My Friends

From the cozy comfort of my bed, I strum my guitar, sing off tune, read a book, write a letter, say a prayer; I know firsthand.

That, which does not kill me, makes me stronger. – Nietzsche

And I am as tough as they come.

Posted in education, inspiration, social view.


  1. Oh, my dear soulmate. I hurt for you~!!! I have NO pain. Spent 8 hrs Fri tethered to an IV, which is only an inconvenience and a small discomfort, and it buys me another week of life, albeit the last couple of days are marginal because when my blood is low, my cognitive functions go AWOL.
    Is there nothing you can take that will relieve the searing, burning, pulsating pain when it strikes? Let me know what I might do to make your life more pleasant … write to you more frequently? You remain
    in my prayers. With my love … T O P

    • And you dear soulmate, whom I have never had the chance to meet, but feel I know so well through words…I admire you for your fighting spirit and courage to go through one transfusion after another. Keep the faith!

  2. Pat, you are such an inspiration to us all. Thanks for reminding me that I need to count my blessings EVERYDAY! It is too easy for me to fret and complain about matters that seem so trivial compared to what others suffer through. You remain in my thoughts and prayers for an answer for a cure. Big cyber hugs to make you feel better.

  3. Hi Pat,
    Thank you for this connection. Mary had shared awhile back and I never pursued. I apologize. So long since we have seen each other and it was a highlight to turn on the computer and see the link to your blog. You are an inspiration! So much to catch up on.

  4. I am sorry for ALL of us in pain and hate that you have to crawl into bed with yours. Mine has been fairly constant since well before I was diagnosed of course. In fact just before the surgery it was almost unbearable. But since then it has not been so bad. The worst is the cancer in the bones (right now my hip…spine is better!) but if I just sit still it usually goes away. I find no pain reliever that works well though they try to push them on me constantly….my medicine cabinet probably has a high street value. But the strong stuff makes me woozy so I avoid it.

    Prayer, meditation, and old sitcoms help!

    Hang in there.

  5. Pat, You are a source of incredible inspiration! I can’t even imagine dealing with chronic pain like the pain that has invaded your body. You handle it with such strength and grace which appears to be a family trait. Yes,Pat you ARE as tough as they come and I love that you embrace that perception about yourself. If I ever played basketball, I’d want to be on your team! Keep up the good fight. Sending positive healing thoughts and hugs across the ocean. 🙂

    • Actually Kathy, physically I am not as tough I as I talk and there are many days I am driven to my knees, but my spirit is strong and I am feisty. Thanks for all your encouragement not only in the daily grind, but in facing down the demons that haunt us as we struggle to excavate and share our stories.

  6. bless your heart. You are in my prayers . Chronic pain is a terrible thing to live with yet in some small way we all do it. I feel heartache (my chronic pain) every day after the loss of my son five years ago. There are mess that help with some of the pain but what gets me through each minute and day is the strength of my faith in God, family and friends. May God strengthen you and hold you during your time of need.

    • Oh Chris, surely there is no greater, deeper pain for a mother than to endure than the loss of a child. May faith help your broken heart heal, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Sending special hugs to ease the hurt, even if only momentarily.

  7. Patty,
    I pray for you each and every day. It’s not fair that you ‘ve had to suffer for so long, but your outlook is an inspiration to us all!
    Yockway, Peg

  8. Thank you for your post. Often, feeling sorry for myself, I think I am the only one in the world carrying a burden. Your words inspire, and remind me that life is choice, and a gift. I remember when I was a little girl I read stories of Saint Francis of Assisi, who used to refer to pain as”Brother Pain.” I had no idea, until this stage of life, what that meant. Now I know it is an integral part of existence as we walk our
    road. I am sorry that you have to endure such burden, and I admire the force of will that you are….Bless you, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Thanks. “Brother Pain” I like that…somehow it takes the sting away. How true that life is a choice and a gift. So even though I may groan and grumble, every morning I plant my feet firmly on the floor and ATTACK the day. May your burdens be lighter and heart feel lifted, Joanne.

  9. sis, Yes! you are one tough cookie! and I was (and still am) thankful you are on my TEAM in life! Many times your demonstration of pure grit and determination has given me strength in days of challenge or pain. Thank you for the reminder to count our blessings and share patience and understanding for those coping with chronic pain. <3 Love you mucho!

  10. Sis, even in the midst of your own burden, you reached out to Cliff and I every single day while we were going through his recent health crisis. When you could be focused inward on your own struggle, you continue to reach out to others with compassion and encouragement. Your inner strength, positive outlook and determined spirit are an example for all of us. Thank you for being MY daily inspiration.

  11. Yes, you are strong Pat! Thanks to you for inspiring us all with chronic pain on ways to soldier on…
    Peace & blessings,

  12. Pat, I’m a bit late in responding to this blog… I’ve read it several times. I’ve recently had a another attack of trigeminal neuralgia…aka face pain. I thought it was cured!!?! Bon courage (and acupuncture) have helped me cope. Thanks! Ons. Step. Forward.

    • Oh Barb…I am so sorry to hear this. I had an attack of this twice and it is the most horrific pain. As you know it can’t even be described. I hope you can get it back under control. I also tried acupuncture years ago & it seemed to help for fibro pain. Sending hugs ASAP from Switzerland!!

  13. My dear sister you never cease to amaze me with your strenght and
    courage. I pray that some day you will be free of this pain that
    invades your body. You inspire me to be a more patient and
    understanding person. I think of you often, sending good thoughts
    across the sea. Take care my dear friend.

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