Chronic pain does not only impact the individual, but also the family. Chronic pain is a stressor on the family. Each member suffers from the emotional stress of not being able to relieve the pain. Chronic pain is my family’s problem.
My father, who suffers from an autoimmune disease called Lupus, often goes from remission to flares up sporadically. When he is in remission, he has no symptoms and loves to go running. Yet when he has a flare up, he is tired and in constant pain. Unfortunately, last month he had a severe lupus flare that had caused fluid buildup around his heart and his kidneys had begun to fail. Nobody knows why the flare occurred, but many have theories of side effects from medications, stress, a cold or the flu. However, those theories did not matter because my father was unconscious and nobody knew when he would regain consciousness.
As a family, we believed that within three days he would wake up and we could go back to being normal. On the 4th day, he was still in the same condition, but we were not. I was no longer happy, no longer eating and no longer sleeping. The only thing that I could do was to worry with fear that my siblings and I may no longer have a father. Each one of us began to face the reality, that maybe things would never be normal. Our new normal would be taking shifts at the hospital. Our new normal would be to sit there by his bedside and wait.
As a family, we acknowledged that chronic illness is our problem but it would never define us. We needed to pull ourselves together because we knew that my father needed us as a family and that being emotionally stressed would not benefit his health. When a loved one suffers from chronic pain, focus on adding comfort, love, and laughter. Ask for help and speak up, do not let it change who you are as a person.