Submitted by: A Grateful Pain Community Member

man holding up the phone receiverHave you ever wondered what really happens on pain support calls? If so, you are going to want to read this blog.

Back in May, The Pain Community (TPC) started a FREE phone support service for all those in the “world of chronic pain.” It is for everyone, not just people living with pain, but also their caregivers, spouses, partners, family, friends, and even healthcare professionals.

These calls are unlike any I have ever attended. The first thing that grabbed my attention was that the calls are four times a month. Wow! TPC understands that talking to others who are on a pain journey needs to happen more than once a month. The second thing was the fact that the calls are all open-discussion. If you are not familiar with the term “open-discussion,” it means everyone on the call can share as much or as little as they wish. No raising your hand to speak, no waiting in queue to speak. It is like being on the phone with some old friends. I know you may be thinking but how does that work with everyone talking over each other? It isn’t like that. Everyone is polite and respectful. Sure, there are times when two or more people start to say something at the same time, but it never fails that one continues while the others wait to add their thoughts.

There is a host for the calls. She has lived with with pain for over 20 years, so she really understands living life with pain. She gets the conversation started at the beginning of the call and then she lets us go. Her name is Teresa, and she is not just the hostess, she has become a friend—a trusted friend who will stay on the call and talk with us until she knows everyone has said what they needed to say. I have been on calls that have lasted three hours. She never rushes us or tells us it is time to stop the conversation and to hold our thoughts until the next week. She wants everyone on the call to feel “heard” and have a “voice,” and she will stay on as long as we need her.

I have never been on a support call like this. We can change the subject multiple times during the call, if we want, because it isn’t about staying on one topic. Teresa wants us to talk about whatever is on our mind at the time. That is just one reason that makes these calls so unique.

Additionally, the people who are attending the calls each week have become friends—not just voices on the other end of the phone. When one of us misses a call, the others become concerned, and Teresa will send an email to that person asking if everything is okay. She really cares about all of us.  She volunteers her time not once a month but four times a month, and we can all count on her being on that phone when we call in. Not only is she there for the calls, but she also gives us her personal contact information. As she says, “The pain doesn’t take a break. If you need me, I’ll be there for you.” She ends the calls by reminding us that she is “only a phone call or email away.”

A journey with chronic pain brings so much stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness to our lives and those who care about us. Having these wonderful support calls gives us such an amazing, wonderful, and refreshing change.

With so much stigma attached to those of us with chronic pain, it is beyond fabulous to find a place where we, the people living with chronic pain, are the experts. We are respected and our opinions are not only encouraged, but valued.

I encourage everyone reading this to join at least one of the calls that TPC is providing. I want everyone to experience what I feel on these calls. It is love, compassion, respect, concern, and friendship like none other I’ve experienced.  I promise once you talk to Teresa for a little while, hear the compassion in her voice and the friendship she extends, you will be hooked on these calls and never want to miss one.

Editor: We want to thank this TPC member for participating and sharing her experience. We would love to “see” all of you at our next telephone support meeting.

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