How Do I Adjust to Chronic Pain?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I was injured in a back country horse back riding incident in October of 2009. I fractured my pelvis on both sides. I went from being very active to living in pain until recently. I found out that a have Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction and Piriformis Syndrome. I am now on Gabapentin and taking a round of steroids which seem to be helping I will also be starting physical therapy next week however I have suffered with this for over 3 years and have felt some depression and sadness over the time. I have had trouble adjusting to my limitations. I have guilt feelings due to my inability to work and help pay my share of the household bills. My son, his wife and 4 children live with us. I try to do my part by keeping the house clean cooking and taking care of the children ages 16, 12, 11, and 7. Yes they pay their part. How can I overcome my sadness in trying to adjust to this?

A: You are asking a great deal of yourself. Of course you have some depression. Chronic pain and the limitations that come with it will do that to a person. I’m impressed that you are engaged in your treatment and that you continue, rightfully, to be hopeful.

I worry that your guilt over being currently disabled is making you push yourself too hard. The body needs rest in between therapy treatments to heal. Do confer with your physical therapist about how much stress you should be putting on your body while you recover.

I do hope that your adult son, his wife and his kids are pitching in with the cooking and cleaning. You shouldn’t expect yourself to be the resident homemaker because you aren’t working for money right now – nor should they all expect you to be. It’s part of being a family to help each other out during challenging times. You would do as much for them. It’s healthy for kids to have regular chores and to have to do some extra tasks when someone is hurt or ill. It teaches them compassion and it prepares them to be competent adults. Even the 7-year-old can contribute by helping to set and clear the table and by making her or his own bed. It would be a positive role model for the kids for your son to do some of the cooking and cleaning. Young people now expect both genders to have homemaking skills.

You can make an equal contribution by reading to the little one and perhaps helping to oversee homework for the others. Giving the kids individual attention is just as important as cleaning house.

You’ve got a big family. As my grandmother used to say, “Many hands make light work.” Your focus needs to be on getting better, both physically and emotionally.

I wish you well in your healing.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). How Do I Adjust to Chronic Pain?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/04/03/how-do-i-adjust-to-chronic-pain/

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