No Comparison

I suppose it is human nature to compare experiences, but when it comes to chronic pain I believe it is best not to compare pain levels.  This is a mistake that I am guilty of making but also one that I am making a conscious effort not to repeat.

I have observed people comparing their pain levels, each fully convinced that their pain is worse than that of someone else.  How can they know that for sure?  I have seen it happening in chronic pain support groups, I have experienced it with well meaning friends and/or family, I have heard it from doctors, and my husband and I have even made the mistake of trying to compare each others pain.  The result is never good.  It leads to hurt feelings, frustration, and stress; each of which can amplify the pain level of someone who lives with daily chronic pain.

I truly believe that when it comes to pain there is no comparison.  Even the number system used by doctors and hospitals is flawed in many ways.  Everyone experiences pain differently and everyone has a different tolerance to it.  A treatment that eases one person’s pain may very well do nothing for someone else or even make another person’s pain worse.  I might sit quietly and suffer in silence while experiencing pain that may bring another person to tears or someone else crying out in agony, but I don’t know that for sure because I do not know how anyone else is feeling inside and I cannot feel their pain, nor can they feel mine.  What I do know is that I suffer from what I consider severe chronic pain every minute of every day and it hurts.  What also hurts is when other people try to diminish the severity of it by thoughtless comments or comparisons.  None of us have any way of knowing how another person truly feels, inside or out, so in reality a true comparison of pain is impossible.

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