Why I’m Not Afraid to Talk About My Chronic Pain

by Lucy Barnum
Also Featured on KCBS

Why I’m Not Afraid to Talk About My Chronic Pain

by Lucy Barnum
Also Featured on KCBS
03.24.19
Illustration by: Main Tran
03.24.19

I suffer from chronic pain. But my pain was invisible. So I was often greeted by disbelief.

Two years ago, I sprained my ankle. It didn’t completely heal. For months the pain got worse, until I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a type of chronic nerve pain.

I spent the next eight months on crutches to give my foot room to heal.

During my rush-hour commute on BART, people were unwilling to give up their seats to a teenager, even one on crutches. They’d look down at my foot, then back up at me, questioning why someone my age would need the disability seating.

My pain therapist told me, “I see kids like you all the time.” She said that complex regional pain syndrome patients are most often teenage girls, like me.

While I’ve never met any, just imagining them makes me feel less alone.

Because even though the pain was bad, the isolation was even worse. I often asked why I was singled out to be living this nightmare. By speaking up about it now, I want to help ease the self-doubt and isolation that other chronic pain sufferers may feel.

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