People with chronic pain do not mean to be unreliable. When feeling better we may promise things and mean it.When in serious pain we may not even show up.
An action or situation may cause serious pain many hours later or even next day. Delayed pain is confusing to people who have never experienced it.
Pain may inhibit listening and other communication skills. It is like having someone shouting at you, or trying to talk with a fire alarm blaring in the room.
The effect of pain on the mind can resemble attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), so you may have to repeat a request or write things down for someone in chronic pain.
Don't take it personally, or think they are ignoring you, or that they are stupid.
The senses can overload while in pain. Noises that would not normally bother us can seem too much. Patience can be short, and we cannot wait in a line or through a long drawn out conversation.
It is normal to be depressed occasionally while in pain.
Knowing where a refuge is - a couch, a bed or a comfortable chair - is as important as knowing where the toilet is. A visit is much more enjoyable if the chronic pain person knows there is a refuge if needed.
Pain can trigger temporary psychological disabilities. When in pain a small task - such as hanging out the laundry - can seem like a huge wall, to high to climb over. An hour later the same job may be quite okay.
Pain can come on fairly quickly and unexpectedly. It can sometimes lessen after a short rest.
Small acts of kindness can seem like huge acts of mercy to a person in pain. Your offer of a pillow or a cup of tea can be a really big thing to a person who is helpless in the face of encroaching pain.
Not all pain is easy to locate or describe. Sometimes there is a body wide feeling of discomfort, with hard to describe pains in the entire back or in both legs, but not in one particular spot you can point to.
Our vocabulary for pain is very limited compared to the body's ability to feel varieties of discomfort.
We may not have a good "reason" for the pain, medical science is still limited in its understanding of pain. Many people have pain that is not yet classified by doctors as an officially recognised "disease". This does not lessen the pain; it only reduces our ability to give it a label and have you believe us.