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Top 10 Signs You’re in the Chronic Pain Zone

For many of us crossing into middle-age, our yearly check-ups with Family Doctors have multiplied to include visits with numerous Specialists, requiring scheduling skills that puts those of any Soccer/Dance Mom to shame.

As we get better and better at asking questions about procedures, medications (thank you WebMD!) and advocating for ourselves in general, we may start to notice new patterns emerging in the behavior of our Healthcare Team. Some of these may even indicate that, in their eyes, we have crossed over from Self Advocate to the slightly murkier area of the Chronic Pain Zone.


Here are just a few signs that you may have tripped into the CP Zone.

Top 10 Signs You’ve Entered the Chronic Pain Zone

  1.  You hear the Doc pause outside the exam room door and take a moment to brace himself with a few deep, calming breaths.
  2.  You start noticing a pattern in the scheduling of your appointments. You always seem to arrive in the middle of a dry spell, leaving you in an empty waiting room. Not to worry, your Doc isn’t losing business, the staff is simply under strict orders not to leave you alone with any of the other patients. (That way there’s less chance of your alleged attitude rubbing off on anyone else.)
  3.  When you approach the check-in window, the receptionist always appears to be in some sort of upright, fetal position – her hands quaking as they hover over the keyboard. (This occasionally can be seen at the Check-Out window as well, depending on the amount of foul language that was overheard emanating from the exam room.)
  4.  Your specialist has installed caller ID and the staff is under strict orders to let ALL of your calls go straight to voicemail. You get bonus points if more than one Specialist has instituted this policy.
  5.  When you call to schedule a follow-up appointment, the receptionist doesn’t just know you by the sound of your voice, but you’ve heard greetings resembling, “Mrs. Dean…It’s been what, a whole week?” or “Mrs. Dean! Is it that time again already?”
  6.  The nice ladies at the pharmacy not only know you on a first-name basis, but they put all other orders on hold and fill yours first. So you don’t have to wait. And they can get you OUT the door.
  7.  The nurses no longer make pleasant small talk while they take your blood pressure and pulse, but instead look pale and nervous. Or even worse, at the sight of your name on the schedule, they check their own blood pressure and pulse.
  8.  Your specialist has scheduled you for your third colonoscopy this year. And he’s a heart specialist.
  9.  Your spouse gives you the “first day of kindergarten” speech before every Doc appointment. “OK, honey. Now, you know it’s not nice to call other people names, right? And it’s not nice to throw things, right? Remember to use your inside voice when you’re inside and don’t run with scissors. Got it?”
  10.  Women: Your favorite Doc, knowing you’re done with your “baby years,” mysteriously moves to an OB/GYN practice.
    Men: Your favorite Doc mysteriously moves to an OB/GYN practice.


If you too find yourself standing in the CP Zone, take comfort in the knowledge that it probably means you’re doing something right and demanding the best care for yourself. That’s something we should all take pride in. Even if the occasional receptionist spells “pride,” f-e-a-r.

An earlier version of this piece appeared as You Know You’re A Giant Pain When… on pixie.c.d.

Chris Dean

Chris writes at pixie.c.d. (formerly Life Your Way!) where she shares acts of stupidity, life with adult Offspring, and the occasional useful bit of info on life with chronic illness. She lives in Indiana with her amazingly tolerant Hubby (who swears he doesn't mind putting up with her), their four adult-kids, and the petting zoo of cats, dogs, chickens, Muscovy ducks, and geese she’s systematically managed to turn their home and yard into. When not writing, you can find her avoiding laundry on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Instagram: pixiecd

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