Pain is such a subjective thing. It can be incredibly difficult to express to medical professionals what you are going through. Crohn’s discomfort in particular, can be so utterly random and so intense at times it makes it almost impossible to predict, and even more difficult to prepare for it to strike.
When I was at my worst with Crohn’s Disease, prior to my surgery, I could barely walk due to my abdominal pain. I was bent over like a badly made scarecrow, and constantly weak and faint from the excruciating agony and relentlessness of my symptoms. It’s extremely disheartening when there is seemingly no relief from pain. No respite from feeling sick and sore, tired and feeble, and mentally and physically drained. In trying to express this pain to my consultant I was fighting a losing battle. I played my symptoms down because I didn’t want to look weak – even though I felt weak as a lorry load of poorly kittens. I’ve learnt my lesson there; playing the hero never helped anyone in the medical profession solve patients’ problems. My consultant told me I looked hopeless and it was clear I was depressed. I didn’t feel things were that serious, however I didn’t feel anything but PAIN.
After my surgery I was disappointed to find I was still in pain. But nowhere near as bad. Much more occasional and I didn’t feel like hanging myself after as much as a mere morsel of food. Which was nice. This time the pain was a pounding, or a sharp stabbing with a hot poker. Or even a persistent throb in the abdomen, coming on in waves, almost contraction-like. Due to the unpredictability and variance in levels of Crohn’s pain, a patient eventually learns what they can’t and can’t manage with or without pain relief. I feel I’ve hit a plateau in terms of where my tolerance is. I know I can’t bear the intensities of Crohn’s pain at times, and when that horror strikes I know I should be doubled up in bed, or possibly in hospital.
I no longer mess around when the pain lingers and I don’t underestimate how dangerous these symptoms can be, or just how quickly they can progress. And neither should any of you.
Written by Kathleen Nicholls from Crohnological Order