Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Asking for Help
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What can I tell you about asking for help when living with a chronic disease?

Before I can give you some insight on that, I’ll need to take you back in time. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll get the impression that I’ve been physically active most of my life. But if you haven’t, here’s a brief recap.

I loved running around in the school playground at recess and joined sports teams in grade school and high school. Movement was in my DNA. Working out at the gym 5 days a week for at least 2 hours each visit left my body energized and relaxed.

I took much pride in what I could do because I’m an independent spirit. I usually don't ask for other peoples’ assistance. If there’s a bowl overhead in the kitchen cabinet I can’t reach, I’ll either stand on my tippy toes to reach it or pull out my step stool. The last resort is to ask one of my kids to get it.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking for someone’s help. I just never had to. But when my body was being ravaged by ankylosing spondylitis, I needed all the help I could get. Thankfully my husband stepped in and helped out in so many ways with what I couldn’t do for myself or our kids anymore.

When I had my life-altering hip surgery, everything changed. I gained back the independence I lost.

I’ve noticed that one of the biggest things about people living in pain is that some of them believe they will be perceived as physically weak if they ask for assistance. They would prefer to lean on a kitchen counter or cling for dear life to a grocery cart instead of asking for help.

There's no shame in asking for help from a friend or family member. If you're in chronic pain and live alone, I would highly recommend joining a support group. There are some amazing groups out there and some are free.

Studies have shown that regularly meeting with others also living in chronic pain like you is great for everyone’s state of mind. When people meet in a warm and friendly group setting, they can share stories and even tips they find helpful on their own journey of dealing with daily pain.

Do you have a good friend you can speak to when you’re having a bad flare? If you do, that’s wonderful. Friends can be true lifelines. But If you don’t and your friends tell you your pain is in your head, seriously consider looking for new friends. Life is too short to put up with other people's negative attitudes, stereotypes, or their disbelief about what it looks like to have a chronic disease. 

Bottom line?

If you need help, ask. Don’t be a hero. (Leave that to the superheroes at Marvel comics.) No one is going to think any less of you. You may be surprised to discover that there are many people around you that would love to help if you only ask.

I’ll leave the final words to my late wise beloved father-in-law: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”




Photo Credit: Maskot / DigitalVision via Getty Images

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Lovaine Cohen

Lovaine Cohen

Diagnosed since 2001

Lovaine Cohen has lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years. A chronic pain coach, Lovaine helps women reduce pain with her Holistic Healing Method program and shares pain management and anxiety tips on her blog and on Instagram. Her loves include her two children in their early 20s, a rescue husky named Stella, and her husband of 28 years. Connect with Lovaine on Instagram.

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