Conquering Pain With Love

Prior to having chronic pain, John Kay was ambitious in all aspects of his life. He married early and, through hard work, advanced quickly in his father’s land surveying company, often volunteering for the most challenging assignments that would set him apart from the rest.

John’s eagerness helped him climb the ranks at work, but it was also the initial contributor to his life with pain. While surveying a particularly rugged site, John slid down a 20-foot rock, knowing immediately as he came to a stop on his backside that his injury was serious.

Following several surgeries to fuse his vertebrae, a process that usually takes six months to heal, John was forced to return to work prematurely after learning his disability insurance would not cover the full recovery time he needed.  Despite ongoing pain, John tried to live a normal life, even volunteering as a firefighter in his community, until he suffered another crippling injury on the job.

This final injury spurred a lawsuit between John and his hometown, alienation from his community, and dwindling support from his wife, father and friends. As his stress heightened, his condition worsened, causing John to leave his father’s surveying company and seek new jobs, all of which he would be rejected primarily due to rumors of his opioid use in his small town.

Unbowed, John drew upon his skills and experience and started a photography company and a small land surveying company, but his wife grew more disgusted with his pain and need for medication, a sentiment his children began to share as well. Just when John’s life seemed it couldn’t get any worse, someone entered his life and turned it around, simply by understanding what he was going through.

In a previous blog I discussed the story of Marsha Miller and the bond that formed between her and John when they both had no hope left.  The two found each other as their soul mates and married. The Kays have taught me that having someone close to you is key to restoring happiness after pain appears. For people with chronic pain, having good relationships can be life-saving. A meta-analysis of 148 independent research studies found that, for people with health conditions (not just chronic pain), supportive relationships increase the odds of survival by 50 percent. Life with chronic pain is tough both for the person in pain and those that surround them. While there are many ways to manage chronic pain, almost none are as effective as love. My hope for everyone who has pain is that they will find someone who will love, support and understand them in their path towards healing.

Read John Kay’s story in my forthcoming book “The Painful Truth,” to be released in September 2015.

Leave a Comment