Out-of-the-BoxYou know as I do that there is a stigma attached to these words “I live with pain.” The first two things someone may ask you when you tell them that you have chronic pain are, “Do you take pain medication?” and if you say yes, then the next question is often, “Are you addicted to them?”

So I ask you, why is this? Is it because the only time you read or hear something in the media regarding chronic pain it is always about the the war on prescription drugs and addiction?

Do you hear from co-workers, friends and even family, “Aren’t you afraid of becoming addicted to the medications and becoming a druggie?”

Each and every time I hear those words, my blood runs cold and I actually believe that steam must come out of my ears. Why do people have to assume the worst?

I stopped having this discussion with people any more. I choose to live outside of that box that they want to put me in. No more I say! Others are more than welcome to ask me how I am doing. They can ask me how my pain issues are going but I refuse to be drawn into having a discussion around how horrible “they” think pain medications are—the very ones that allow me to have a full life out of the wheelchair.

I have found that there are some folks willing to step out of the comfort zone of their preconceived ideas from rumors, misinformation or negative experiences and become better educated. However, I am sorry to say they are few and far between.  So today, I am making a declaration addressed to those who are not willing to listen and learn about pain and the difference between addiction, tolerance and physical dependence—please don’t expect me to talk with you about my pain care needs.

I don’t mean to be rude or nasty. I am sick and tired of being placed in that box. You know the one: the difficult and needy patient, the drug seeker, the second class citizen, the scourge of society who is responsible for the prescription drug abuse problem. I am no different than anyone else. I am not a bad person because I have a medical condition that causes severe pain. I am not a drug addict. I am not addicted to the pain medication that I take as prescribed by my doctor and according to how he has instructed me to take them. I am not a criminal.

All I want is to have a somewhat normal life. I deserve to live my life just like everyone else. I have equal rights as an American to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

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