W4 Reflection: Chronic Pain and Fatigue

I’ve learned a little bit about chronic fatigue in some of my other classes, but about a month ago I listened to a podcast by a woman who used to suffer from chronic fatigue and it sparked my interest in the illness. This prompted me to study the Werner article about chronic pain and fatigue. The woman in the podcast described her condition as the achy tired feeling that typically characterizes the flu, except all the time. Many of the testimonies in the Werner article were similar. The women in the article suffered from a variety of similar illnesses including chronic fatigue, fybromyalgia, and chronic muscle pain. Illnesses such as these have been described as debilitating, and often frustrating to those who have them. Chronic pain can be additionally frustrating when people don’t understand what someone is going through, and do not take their illness seriously. The women in the Werner article told that many doctors and other healthcare providers did not believe they experienced the symptoms they reported. People with chronic pain are often questioned if their condition is really that bad, and that they are “making things up”. This constant judgement and disbelief can cause someone who suffers from chronic pain to struggle with their identity as a patient, and become frustrated with their illness. Though prescription medication can be used to a certain extent for these illnesses, patients who suffer from chronic pain are often prescribed psychiatric therapy, which often is not helpful. I believe that, while certain cases of these illnesses may be exaggerated, many are not and they serve as an almost counterexample to notion of healing through believing, and the placebo effect. As we learned from the “Placebo: Cracking the Code” film, the mind has a very powerful connection to the body. Some physicians believe chronic pain is imagined, when it is often not. This case is nearly opposite of the person in the film who convinced themselves they had terminal cancer. This is similar, but also different to a patient having their symptoms treated from a placebo.

2 thoughts on “W4 Reflection: Chronic Pain and Fatigue

  1. Hello, I really liked your post about chronic fatigue. I know very little of chronic fatigue so reading about it was very interesting. It is very disconcerting that many of the women who had chronic fatigue were not taken seriously by the healthcare system. It would be very discouraging and stressful for me if I was showing symptoms of an illness, but was not taken seriously by the health system. My perception of chronic fatigue is that it is related to stress. The stress can be caused from cultural or biomedical reason. Many outside factors can also influence the perception of chronic fatigue. Since it is not taken seriously, many people can believe that the individual might be physically or mentally weak. They can also think that the individual is fatigued because of their personal life choices. Every individual going through the pain of chronic fatigue is subjective, and that someone without it will not understand what they are going through. Treatment of chronic fatigue should be taken seriously since psychiatric and prescription medicine only help to a certain extent. To help people understand chronic fatigue, the society’s perception of chronic fatigue must be altered so they know the seriousness of the illness.

  2. Before this week my perception of chronic pain and fatigue was one of skepticism. Health professionals couldn’t find a cause for many of the women who have experience these symptoms. If the cause can’t be determined then the symptoms are hard to treat, and the medical condition tends to lose credibility. You mentioned that doctors would not take these patients seriously and didn’t believe that the symptoms were as bad as the patients made them out to be. It is very unfortunate that these women aren’t taken seriously because it is hard to believe that this condition could be made up by that many people. There are similar issues with those who suffer from other chronic conditions such as kidney stones. Although there is physical evidence that the kidney stones exist, the amount of pain that the patient is in can be questioned. Just like chronic pain and fatigue, patients with kidney stones aren’t always given pain medications if the doctor believes that they are making up the pain. Now that I have gone through the course materials I have a more open mind about how each person experiences an illness differently. Not everyone will experience or respond to an illness the same way, so we should not be too quick to pass judgement on those people.

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