First of all I want to thank CreakyJoints for giving me the chance to share my voice as a patient. As I write this I truly believe that I speak for so many of us that battle chronic pain on a daily basis. As a patient/advocate I was diagnosed with both Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as my primary autoimmune condition and Osteoarthritis as a secondary condition. Both of these diseases leave have forced me to wage a war against chronic pain that I hadn’t imagined I would ever have to face with my family. My hope is that you will walk away from reading this, understanding just how much chronic illness affects ones family!
A Family Fighting Together
When we think about chronic pain we think about the “person” it may affect but not the “entire family” that it really affects. A spouse or significant other often has to take on the roll of caregiver, and other family members are forced to adapt in various ways to the one who has become sick. It often changes the way a family is able to function and creates challenging circumstances in so many ways!
Tip: Families face different types of adversity but it’s in how they manage it that’s key
Communicating With One Another
A family needs to make time to talk openly and honestly about all of the challenges they are facing. They need to speak to one another about ways in which they can make adjustments for improving family life. Misunderstandings are going to take place and it will require a lot of listening to one another and explaining of how to better deal with problems as they arise. Living a chronic life teaches a family how to have grace for one another, and the necessity to have open lines of communication.
Tip: There needs to be an open door policy between all family members.
Every family is going to come up against different challenges when it comes to dealing with Osteoarthritis. Things such as anger, fear, and sadness can put tremendous amounts of stress on the relationships within families. Thus each family member needs to be able to go to one another in their time of need.
Tip: Try to focus on making relationships and interactions the best you can within the parameters of your illness.
Strong relationships and interacting with one another can take more effort and be difficult when your dealing with a family member who is sick. So you need to come together as a family and figure out the best way to maintain positive relationships with one another.
This isn’t a problem that your dealing with just once. Often those of us affected by illness are battling for a lifetime. So these stresses and issues that arise are going to be constant! This means that a family is going to need to check in with one another all the time revisiting lines of communication or any other issues that might be coming up.
Unless they find a cure for the illnesses that affect me then family life will always be a balancing act. So it means staying in tune and aware of how chronic pain can affect all of us in the family.
Tip: We need to keep educating ourselves and growing from the different things we have faced.
Finally we need to recognize how all of this can bring a family closer together. Often through hardships come stories of encouragement. Families can use that encouragement to draw strength! Not all of the things we face through our illness have to be a discouragement. We can go on to do great things and lead amazing lives!
To read more from Ross, please visit his website, Painfully Optomistic.