By Crystal Lindell, Columnist
Below is a list of 9 things that are not helpful to hear when you are in the midst of debilitating chronic pain (and 11 things that are).
Fair warning, the language is strong — like my pain. Sorry about that.
1. Have you tried pot?
Piss off. First of all, I’m not allowed to. My doctor makes me take drug tests and if they find any trace of marijuana, they could cut off my opioids.
Second, it’s not like I can get Mary Jane at the CVS. Do I just randomly trust the local teen drug dealer to get me my medicine? For my body? That already hates me? That sounds like a great plan.
Third, pot is not a magical cure for everything wrong with everyone. It’s a plant. Not a potion.
2. You should lose some weight.
Fuck you. Losing weight is also not a magical cure all. And also, have you ever been on sleeping pills, pain pills and antidepressants, all at once? Because not only do those drugs make it hard to lose weight, they make you gain weight.
And OK, let’s pretend losing weight would magically cure me. I’m in pain right now, and I can only really lose a pound a week. So what am I supposed to do? Wait this out for a year or two until I get to the weight you suggest?
Oh, and also, screw you for telling someone who literally feels like they are dying that they should also give up one of the last good things in their life — delicious food.
Also, now I’m sick AND worried that you think I’m fat. Thanks a lot, asshole.
3. Just go to a chiropractor
I judge people who say this to me.
First, are you going to pay for it? Because my insurance sure as hell won’t. Also, it doesn't work for me. I don’t have a crick my neck, I have real issues. Issues chiropractors can’t solve. And personally, every single one I have ever been to has charged me hundreds of dollars for what basically amounts to the placebo effect.
4. What about acupuncture?
Screw you and your stupid needles. It doesn’t work. It’s the placebo effect. And again, my insurance company is not on board.
5. This is all part of God’s plan for you. You’re going through this so you can write about it and help others.
As the saying goes, Lord give me patience because if you give me strength I’m going to have to kill the next person who says this crap to me.
Okay, so assuming there is a God, He did not do this to me. Surviving constant debilitating pain is not part of some Almighty plan. And if it is part of God’s plan, then, well, I’m just going to say it — that is some bullshit.
6. You should give up gluten.
Boy bye. You want me to give up bread now too? Does it make you feel better to offer me this advice? Because if so, the only person it’s helping here is you.
Would you go up to someone who just had their foot cut off and condescendingly suggest that perhaps the solution to the blood coming out of their ankle is to just give up bread? No, because that would be insane. And asking me to give up bread is equally insane.
Gluten-free is also not a magic cure-all. On the other hand, the bread sticks at Olive Garden might be.
7. You really need to get off those pain meds. They’re so bad for you.
Sorry, but that’s bullshit darling. You know what’s bad for me? Being is so much pain that I literally can’t get out of bed for days on end. Being in so much pain that I can’t shower. Being in so much pain that I can’t work and lose my job. Being in so much pain that I want to kill myself. Those things are bad for me. Not the pain pills that help me live.
8. I’m praying for you.
Oh for God’s sake. And mine. Can you not? I mean, I get it, it makes you feel better. But let me just chill here DYING while I wait for your prayers to magically take effect. You think I haven’t been pleading with God for the last four years straight to make me better? Of course I have. Trust me, HE KNOWS.
And you telling Him isn’t going to change that. And it isn’t going to help me in any practical way. I mean, feel free to pray for me, just don’t let it be the only thing you do.
9. Well at least it’s not cancer.
Fuck you. Cancer sucks. But so does what I have. Asshole.
Some things you should say instead:
1. I love you.
2. I made you dinner. I’m bringing it over right now.
3. I am driving you to your doctor’s appointment today. I know it’s two hours away. I’ll even pay for gas.
4. I’m going to sit in on the doctor’s appointment and take notes and ask questions because I know you’re too sick to fully pay attention.
5. Let me get that $50 co-pay for your prescription.
6. I am coming over to clean your bathroom and do your laundry so you don’t have to constantly ask your mom to do it.
7. Here’s some Taco Bell.
8. I am coming over and we are just going to sit on the couch for hours, while you vent about how shitty it is to be sick every fucking day.
9. I believe you.
10. I know it sucks. I know it’s hard, but this world would be a much worse place without you and I really don’t want you to kill yourself.
11. Here are two tickets to Paris.
The main difference between the first list and the second list? Most of the first list asks the sick person to do something, and most of the second list makes you do the something for the sick person.
It's harder, but much more effective.
Crystal Lindell is a journalist who lives in Illinois. She loves Taco Bell, watching "Burn Notice" episodes on Netflix and Snicker's Bites. She has had intercostal neuralgia since February 2013.
Crystal writes about it on her blog, “The Only Certainty is Bad Grammar.”
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.