A little while ago I was looking around a website that sold cheaper e-books. A friend had given me this tip. The website is called smashwords and indeed it has lower priced and even free e-books in many categories and e-book formats. While I was filling in the keywords that interrest me, I came across the following book.
“Me and my pain – the challenges of living with chronic pain” by Abbey Strauss. As it was only 2$ and it seemed pretty interresting I decided to download it and give it a try.

I must say those were 2$ well spend. This book really focusses on one of the challenges of living with pain. And that is the challenge of making people [especially doctors] believe in our pain. With so many of us you don’t see on the outside that we are almost always in pain. And medical tests can’t find a reason for the pain. How often have you heard “Maybe it is more a mental problem”, seen in doctor’s eyes that they don’t really believe you. In this book is advocated for doctors and patients to be honest to each other and to believe in one another. Pain that is not understood and not acknowledged can drive people to suicide. Patients can feel they have tried anything and nobody understands what is going on.

The sections on addiction are really strong. A lot of pain patients are wronly labeled addicts because they take a lot of painkillers to get through the day. He explains very well that this is not the case. If the pain would go away so would the painkillers. 

I found the following section of the book very striking.

Theseare the rules a patient must


Painpatients can’t have personality

disorders;if they do then the pain is not quite as real.

Painpatients can’t be depressed over their

stationsin life; if they weren’t as depressed, then the pain would


Painpatients can’t be angry at, or want

compensationfrom, those who wrongly injured them; if they do then

thepain is not as quite as real, or it is amplified just so they

canget a larger money settlement.

Painpatients can’t have insomnia; the reason

theycan’t sleep is because they have not learned enough

self-hypnosisor haven’t accepted their condition.

Painpatients can’t have anxiety or phobic

disordersrequiring certain medications; they aren’t allowed to

havemore than one curse in life needing treatment.

Painpatients can’t have different or

individualmedication tolerances; if they do not fit within the

normaldosing ranges, then they are addicts or placebo


Painpatients can’t have more pain than the

doctorallows; if they do then they are manipulative.

Painpatients can’t have good moods; they

haveto be miserable and complaining all the time.

Painpatients have to always be sick; they

can’thave good days and bad days.

Painpatients can’t have a good day without

everyonethinking the patient is finally learning to live with the

pain,or that the pain is at last vanishing forever.

Painpatients can’t disappoint people by

havinga bad day after a good day.

Painpatients can’t look good; if they look

good,then the pain can’t be so disabling or menacing.

Painpatients can’t respond to hope when they

getgood news; their demeanor cannot improve or change because to

doso lessens the believability of the pain’s intensity, constancy,

intolerance,and presence.

Painpatients can’t be skeptical; they aren’t

allowedto question new or proposed treatment decisions based on

theirreal prior experiences as pain patients.

Painpatient’s can’t have other people steal

theirmedications; being victimized, even one time, by a theft is

tooquickly considered as an indicator of the patient’s

irresponsibility,even for those who are generally very


Painpatients have to be average; if they are

toosmart then they are too ‘pushy’.

Painpatients can’t be normal like the rest

ofus; why should they find it easier to deal with pain, or even

stopsmoking cigarettes, than anyone else?

Painpatients can’t believe in alternative

lifestyles; if they do then they cannot be as trusted, or they

mightbe considered as odd or eccentric. Such eclecticism can be

initiallyspooky and uncomfortable for many who treat these


Painpatients can’t be diagnostic oddities;

iftheir illness can’t be labeled, then it’s too quickly re-painted


Painpatients can’t be picky; they aren’t

allowedto want other than second string doctors.

Painpatients can’t take up too much of the

doctor’stime; if they do then they might become too erudite,

insistent,or burdensome, and this may frighten the doctor


Painpatients can’t shop, cook and clean; if

theydo then they are not in that much pain—but, by the way, who

willdo these chores for them?

Painpatients have to like everyone the

insurancecompany sends to care for them; if they don’t like

everyone,then they are obviously non-cooperative and


Painpatients have to be meek; if they

aren’t,then they don’t genuinely treasure all the good that others

aretrying to do for them.

Painpatients can’t know their history better

thantheir records; they aren’t supposed to be upset when wrong or

incompletedata and inaccurate conclusions are put into their


Painpatients can’t feel the double bind: “if

Itell him the other doctors were wrong then he’ll think I’m too

muchof a smart ass, but if I don’t tell him how the other doctors

werewrong, then we may start with the wrong clinical impression

ofme, which is why I am here in the first place, to have a doctor

getit right….”

Painpatients have to know magic; they are

expectedto take the cash won in a lawsuit, wrap it around the

painfulpart of their bodies, and make the pain go away. They are

theonly people for whom money can buy happiness or cure pain.

Painpatients have to get better; if they

don’t,then doctors may not continue to treat them for the parts of

theproblem that don’t get better.

Painpatients have to ‘learn to get used to

it’;this must be done with the same enthusiasm, gusto and

savoir-faireof someone getting used to being poor.

Painpatients can’t answer ‘how are you?’

with‘fine’; for to say ‘fine’ is thought to mean that they are


Painpatients can’t choose to sacrifice; if

theyever do something one day because of the emotional joy of

doingit despite the pain penalty payable afterwards, then they

can’tobviously be in that much pain.

Painpatients have to perfect; I guess that

meansthey can’t be human.
I don’t think the situation here in Europe when it comes to getting the right medication is as bad as it is in the US. But still I found this very striking.
All in all I thought the book was a bit too long and there was a bit of repetition and the examples of people in trouble about getting the right medication went on and on. But in the end it was a very usefull book. It strongly advocates the rights of pain patients to be believed and to be helped! Every person has the right to the best life they can lead. For me that means pain patients have the right to medication they truly need and help from therapists to help them get the most out of life under difficult circumstances.

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