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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Silence: A Great Teacher

A woman from the local NF chapter emailed me and asked if I would contact a woman (I'll call her "N") with NF. She lives in my state, but like my other friend, is too far away to visit in person. But we gabbed for a long time on the phone. She is only 30; has four kids and frankly, I don't know how she does it!! Her husband is in the service and sounds like a doll in terms of helping her and supporting her and her challenges. I am so lucky I was able to work for 20 plus years before it got too bad to do anything much more than lay flat on my back. N has a family member who gives her a hard time about her pain. Tells her she too, is in pain from firbromyalgia but manages to live her life just fine, thank you very much. She tells her if she just would get up and move around she would feel better.

My heart broke in two listening to her describe the conversation. More like a berating than a conversation. It is impossible to describe what this is like. People just don't understand neuropathic pain issues. Telling someone to "just do it" is like telling a blind person that if they just looked harder, they could see. It doesn't work like that. First of all, we all have different tolerance levels. But that's not even the issue. The issue is, there are tumors pressing on the nerves of the spine, and it hurts like hell!!!!! I really don't know what is wrong with people; if they are just afraid that it might be contagious, or if they feel they are better then the sick person because they push through the pain when someone else can''s complicated and beyond me.

But this much I know; you can't educate those who don't want to be educated. When someone talks to you the way she spoke to N, you have to smile, say "thanks for sharing" and change the subject. Or stay silent. Silence is very, very powerful. When I was in sales, I used it all the time. Said my bit then shut the hell up. The person I was trying to sell something to would either pony up or not. But there is something to be said for staying quiet. More importantly than trying to sell someone something, it gives the person a chance to work it out in their own head. And silence can make the other person see something they may not have been able to see before. Talking gets in the way, and trying to convince someone that our pain is real is a waste of valuable time and energy. So, my dear new friend, save your energy. Stay silent. And pray for her. She needs your help, dear one!!

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