Although chronic pain is common, affecting about 100 million people in the U.S, the experience can be incredibly isolating. Patients may not know other people who are living with the same issues and daily life troubles. Reading about the experiences of another person in a memoir or fictional chronic pain books is like visiting with a friend who understands you. The best chronic pain books can possibly even provide insight into the concerns you’re dealing with. We’ve gathered a number of chronic pain books and memoirs, as well as fictional books that deal with the chronic lifestyle. These characters may not live with chronic pain, but they understand what effects chronic illnesses can have on a life.
10 chronic pain memoirs
One of the most challenging things for people with a chronic illness of any kind is the sense of isolation. The feeling that there is no one else who is having the same experience. One way that this can be counteracted is through media. Books, movies, and television that depict characters or tell the true story of people faced with the same challenges can help.
If you’re looking to lose yourself in a riveting tale about how a real-life person found purpose and triumphed over a similar condition to the one you’re living with, you’re in the right place. Here are a few of our favorite memoirs about chronic pain.
1. In The Blink Of An Eye by Mary Jane Gonzales
This memoir penned by Houston, Texas resident Mary Jane Gonzales catalogues her experiences living with chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS).
The condition took her by surprise, rendering the previously fully functional woman completely dependent. RSDS is a disorder that affects the sympathetic nervous system. Primary symptoms include severe chronic pain that may feel like a burning sensation in the arm, finger, or palm of the hand.
The disorder came on suddenly, and making matters worse, neither Gonzales nor her doctors understood the reason why her body was reacting in this painful way.
In The Blink Of An Eye catalogues Gonzales’ journey as she learns to cope with the debilitating disease and the changes it brought.
2. The Body Broken: A Memoir by Lynne Greenberg
This book catalogues author Lynne Greenberg’s journey after she survived a near-deadly car crash at the age of 19. Greenberg’s broken neck healed, leading doctors to claim her a medical miracle. Thinking she had fully healed, Greenberg went on over the next 22 years to build the seemingly perfect life with a satisfying marriage, happy children, lovely home, and dream job as a poetry professor.
Then one morning, horrific pain erupted in Greenberg’s neck, shattering without warning the peaceful life she’d built. This memoir follows Greenberg’s physical and spiritual journey of living with chronic pain.
It catalogues her efforts to navigate a health care system that she says is not well equipped to help chronic pain patients. It also reveals what it’s like to lose a full, satisfying life to the clutches of disease.
Descending into the horrors of drugs and depression, readers follow Greenberg as she faces her demons head on to find a pathway toward healing.
Greenberg shares her soul searching, how she learns to rely on the kindness and strength of her family, and how the beauty of poetry helps her reclaim some sense of a normal life. The memoir tells it all, from shifts in Greenberg’s family and marriage dynamics to work and friendships. It also helps other chronic pain patients know they are not alone in the complex ways they must navigate the world.
3. No, It Is Not In My Head: The Journey Of A Chronic Pain Survivor From Wheelchair To Marathon by Nicole Hemmenway
In this inspiring tale, Nicole Hemmenway traces her journey from near incapacitation from CRPS to a marathon runner. Hemmenway was just a high school senior when she received the diagnosis of CRPS. This is a condition that develops typically after an injury but is related to damage from the central and peripheral nervous system.
Hemmenway pulled two tendons in her right hand after a freak accident, and the injury kicked off an arduous journey over the next nine years to find treatment despite doctors’ messages of doom and gloom. Healthcare providers told Hemmenway the condition was incurable, but the fiery woman refused to believe that she