chronic illness


Doctors ask questions I have no answers to. I’ve seen brochures, and on websites, advice about how to talk to doctors about your pain. The advice will offer a series of questions to answer. Is it like this? Is it like that? The answer is “no.” Or… “I don’t know.”

But here it is. Not in words, but in a picture.

The artist is named Trina Merry. The photo is not a painting of a model. She is a real person, painted to visualize the words she used to describe her own pain. The statement this woman makes with this pose… it’s me. This is just what I look like when it’s bad.

The artist painted people base on their descriptions. Those people came up with words. I can see, watching the videos, that wasn’t easy. I don’t think I could do what they’ve done. But a few of those words, here and there, feel so familiar, I’d like to borrow them.

It makes me feel uneasy, and imbalanced, and alone. My daily activities are affected… Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Kristen — Los Angeles, CA

The pain winds up reducing my ability to think cognitively… fighting it all the time is draining.

Tom — Los Angeles, California

Chronic pain has an effect with my relationships, because I’m not the same person I used to be. I don’t have the energy, I don’t have the stamina… It can be very lonely when you have chronic pain. I can’t go to social events like I used to, because it’s with you all the time… pain is fatiguing. It’s like carrying a big old backpack full of rocks on your back all the time.

Cathy — Los Angeles, California

It just kind of flattens you. It’s something you can’t explain fully to anybody….

It took me a long time to accept where I am. Acceptance is necessary, so the sooner you can get to acceptance, the better…

I have some power over things, and I can choose to do certain things or not do them and that makes a difference.

Patricia — Berkeley Heights, NJ

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