A conversation with a 9 year old about his Mam-ma’s (grandmother’s) chronic pain. We had ten questions that we asked and we wrote his responses down exactly as he said them to us. This gives insight about how much a child understands when a loved one lives with chronic pain.
1) What is pain?
Pain is when something hurts and it does not feel good. Like when I get a sinus headache, my head hurts right here above my eyes. It makes it hard to play because it doesn’t feel good. Mom and Mam-ma have medicine that they give me and that makes the pain go away.
2) Do you know why Mam-ma has pain and hurts?
Yes because of the weather and arthritis. The weather flicking off and on from cold to hot makes the arthritis hurt more. It is in all of her muscles and bones and so the pain is all over her body but she hurts the most in her back and legs.
3) Does it worry you when Mam-ma is having a bad day or hurting?
Yes of course because I am scared the pain will hurt her so bad that something might happen and she will die. She tells me that it isn’t going to make her die but I still worry.
4) How does Mam-ma’s pain interfere with stuff you want to do?
It don’t because Mam-ma is real good at hiding her pain when I want her to do something with me.
Like coming to my school for a class party. Even if Mam-ma’s back is hurting really bad, she will still come to my party because she loves me.
5) When Mam-ma hurts do you act different around her?
Yes, I will try to do things that makes her smile or happy. I will ask her if I can get her something to drink or eat. She does all those things for me when I am at her house. She spoils me is what my Mom says by waiting on me hand and foot. I need to spoil her and do those things myself when she hurts.
6) Can you tell when Mam-ma is having a lot of pain even if she tries to hide it?
Yes because she talks quiet and she doesn’t smile as much. I like it better when she smiles.
7) Is there anything that you do that makes Mam-ma happy again or that makes her smile, even when she is hurting?
She says me being at her house helps the pain because she likes me to be there and she smiles a lot when I am with her. We also play Minecraft on the Xbox and that helps her forget some of the pain – she calls it, distraction.
Do you know what distraction means?
Well kind of – Mam-ma says distraction is when she can do something that is fun because then her brain stops thinking about the pain.
8) Do you think the pain makes Mam-ma sad?
Well the pain Mam-ma has never goes away and always makes her hurt so of course she would be sad. She hides the sadness if I am at her house.
Why do you think she hides the pain and sadness when you are at her house?
Because she doesn’t want to scare or worry me.
9) What are some things that makes Mam-ma’s pain better?
She has a heating pad and these white gloves for her hands when her hands are real cold. When she is having a lot of pain she has braces for her hands and knees. She says that I make the pain better just spending time with her, I don’t know how that helps but I am happy it does because I like spending time with her.
10) Has Mam-ma ever talked to you about never touching her medications?
Oh yea, she sit me down when I was just a little boy and explained to me that they could hurt me or even kill me. That is why she keeps them all in a big heavy safe with a lock on it and I don’t know the combination.
Written by a member of the TPC community.