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“Have You Tried Taking an Advil?” and Other Advice I Don’t Want To Hear

Some mornings I wake up and try to shift my weight to sit up. I am then greeted with an all-too-familiar stabbing pain in my lower back.

A year ago, I never imagined a life in which I would have trouble getting of bed and walking. Then one day, as I bent forward slightly while brushing my teeth, it was there. After that, the pain worsened. I visited sports doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists and even the emergency room. Finally, I saw a rheumatologist and was diagnosed with a form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Due to the fact that I’ve visited every doctor available to me, had bone scans and blood work done, and been on dozens of medications in the past year, I do not want to hear medical advice from non-medical professionals, ever again.  

Most people think they’re helping me by suggesting I take an Advil or try taking a break from exercise. I really do appreciate the good intentions. I also know that offering advice is a natural response to hearing someone complain, so I don’t blame anyone personally. Not to mention that most people are simply unaware of my condition, so I can’t expect them to immediately understand it.

However, when dealing with chronic pain, it is frustrating to hear the same thing again and again—“have you tried taking an Advil?” The pain that prevents me from even shifting my weight while lying down is not pain that can be fixed by over the counter medications. The stiffness I feel every day is not the same stiffness you feel when you slouch for too long. The fatigue I deal with doesn’t feel like being tired from going to bed too late.

It’s difficult to know that people think the pain I’m describing to them is something that can be easily fixed. That said, I would gladly choose the worn out suggestions over a lack of support from friends and family. It makes everyday a little bit easier to know that I have lots of people looking out for me. Living with chronic pain can be very frustrating, but I am happy to announce that the people closest to me have stopped asking if I’ve tried taking Advil.

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Cassia Pelton

Western '21

Cassia Pelton is a Psychology student at Western University, figure skater, and dog lover.
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