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  • Writer's pictureRoop Bassra

Hi, my name is Chronic Pain

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Photography: Ishu Kler Photography

The saying that you don’t know how it feels until it happens to you cannot be more true when it comes to chronic pain. At work, I had seen chronic pain listed in the medical history of patients. What it meant medically, I knew. How it felt, I found out soon enough.

With Endometriosis, I have always had acute pain on and off with the periods and at random times of the month. In 2016, the pain started to make more of an appearance. When it became everyday and for over 6 months, I knew this was something I might have to live with. The pain varied; sharp, shooting, cramping, aching, always involving my back, pelvis, and legs. When it was severe, things like standing, walking, doing stairs or even a sneeze would pull at my insides and send me in waves of pain. I would lie wrapped up in heat pads, on medication, and still be moaning and groaning. I was nauseous, drowsy from the meds but the pain was always there.

I tried medications, everything from over the counter to narcotics. I cant say anything really worked. I tried tyelonol #3, tramacett, naproxen, toradol, and even oxycodone. They made me drowsy but the pain persisted. A doctor suggested advil extra strength and buscopan in combination. This worked great at first but I was exceeding the daily maximum dosage and it was just barely managing the pain. Trips to the ER for IV meds would help me get to a manageable place but it didn't go away. No one really knows the amount of pain meds I took or still take to function daily. You get used to the pain, smiling, pushing through, working, dealing with daily life stresses and this is all on top of a body that is so tired from fighting the pain all day.

I always mentally compared myself to others who were worse off so that my situation wouldn’t seem as bad. But that’s what I want to focus on; lets not ignore it and pretend we are ok. Chronic pain can ruin your life and impact your mental and social wellbeing if not addressed. Talking about it with others, sharing your pain, and acknowledging it are all steps in not feeling alone in this battle. Ask for help when needed, which is easier said than done. Before I got sick, I was very independent and liked to do everything myself but I have come to learn the hard way that sometimes I just have to suck it up and ask for help in order to help myself.

I find I tend to over work myself sometimes and do more than I am now able to, which exhausts me and makes the pain worse. At those times, I have to take a step back and see what is priority and what can be left for tomorrow. Reality of it is that doing this has been really hard because I have a little bit of OCD and like things clean and organized. For the betterment of my health though, I have to remind myself that l am more important than doing the dishes. I have a hard time putting myself first, a hard time saying no but I am starting to do this because I know I am of no help to myself or others if I don’t take care of myself first. This is not something that will happen overnight; but realizing what you need to do, setting small achievable goals and taking the approach of one day at a time is what I find works.

Photography: Ishu Kler Photography

Even after my last surgery in 2016, there are still random cramps, pains, nausea and feeling fatigued especially when I over work myself. When I get to that point, I breakdown and just feel so sad and unmotivated. I hate feeling that way so what do i do? I try to focus on what can I do for myself right now? Being around my dog, listening to music, taking an Epsom salt bath (which are extremely beneficial) or even just sitting down for a few minutes with the heat pad really helps me. It really depends on you and what you like to do. Sometimes these methods may not work depending on the severity of the pain and your mood but listen to yourself and what your body needs at that time.

So what can you do if you know someone with chronic pain?

• Know that even though we look “fine” we are not fine. Chronic pain is an invisible condition and I find this one of the hardest aspects to deal with as I hear "but you’re so young", "you look like you’re fine", etc…Just because I dressed up that day or laughed doesn't mean i am fine. The pain is always there, we are just really good at dealing with it.

• Understand when we cant make plans in advance and when we do, we may have to cut the visit short or cancel altogether because of how the last few hours, day or week has gone. Please don’t make us feel bad for not being able to go somewhere or do something; we already feel bad as is.

• Educate yourself about the person’s illness and understand its not all in their head. Also know that they most likely know about their illness and options so offer support and sympathy. If you do want to share a story, ask the person if they would be interested in hearing about it

• Help out with errands, cooking, or cleaning. Everyone can use help with those!

• Be patient and know that the person does not mean to be moody or irritated. Fighting the pain every day is tiring and wears a person down.

• Listen. Sometimes that’s all you need to do.

It's hard to remember life when I was pain free but focusing on the past and giving in to the present doesn't help. It's easy to give up and not want to do anything but that's not the life I want for myself. As I mentioned earlier, I try to focus on positives now, like what I'm grateful for, what makes me happy and what distracts me from this pain so that I can have some quality of life. Whether its listening to music, meditating, exercising, watching tv, lying with your dog, talking to a friend or writing a blog….find what works for you.

Roop Bassra


Roop Bassra, RN

BSc Psychology, BSc Nursing



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