First-person narratives of the lived experience of pain, and the meanings of that experience, are uncommon, especially from persons who are not also clinicians or researchers. Yet such narratives could be particularly useful in understanding pain. First-person accounts, stories of pain, can lend unique insights into the lived experience of pain, how individuals make meaning of it, how they come to those meanings, and how those meanings can change over time. Such narratives could lead to new areas of inquiry and explorations of new possible treatment paths. This chapter provides such a narrative, offering a glimpse into one person’s lived experience of pain and its meanings. It demonstrates how our individual narratives, our stories, help us make sense of our experiences, including pain. It demonstrates how our narratives can change over time as new information and understandings lead to new meanings, and how such changing narratives and meanings can be a part of a therapeutic process that can lead to better outcomes for patients and clinicians alike.
Clinical Implications: This chapter provides a first-person account of the lived experience of pain and recovery. It explores the meanings of pain, how they came to be, and how those meanings change over the course of time, from early onset of pain through worsening, unexplained pain to recovery from pain.
Morris DB. Narrative and pain: toward an integrative approach. In: Moore RJ, editor. Handbook of pain and palliative care. New York: Springer; 2013. p. 733–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bunzli S, Smith A, Schütze R, O’Sullivan P. The lived experience of pain-related fear in people with chronic low back pain. In: van Rysewyk S, editor. Meanings of pain. Cham: Springer; 2016. p. 227–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith JA, Osborn M. Pain as an assault on the self: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the psychological impact of chronic benign low back pain. Psychol Health. 2007;22(5):517–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Svenaeus F. The phenomenology of chronic pain: embodiment and alienation. Cont Philos Rev. 2015;48:107–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scarry E. The body in pain: the making and the unmaking of the world. New York: Oxford University Press; 1985. 400 p.Google Scholar
Toye F, Seers K, Hannink E, Barker K. A mega-ethnography of eleven qualitative evidence syntheses exploring the experience of living with chronic non-malignant pain. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2017;17:116.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Biro D. Listening to pain: finding words, compassion, and relief. New York: WW Norton; 2011. 256 p.Google Scholar
McGowan L, Luker K, Creed F, Chew-Graham CA. How do you explain a pain that can’t be seen? The narratives of women with chronic pelvic pain and their disengagement with the diagnostic cycle. Br J Health Psychol. 2007;12(2):261–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bunzli S, Watkins R, Smith A, Schütze R, O’Sullivan P. Lives on hold: a qualitative synthesis exploring the experience of chronic low-back pain. Clin J Pain. 2013;29(10):907–16.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar