What is CAKE? CAKE is something that you can’t do because you are in pain but wanted to accomplish. When I started to watch this movie, I came in with biases of people in the pain community saying how it was all about addition and not much on chronic pain. Those people had not yet seen the film. So, I got out may paper and pen and decided to take notes. I thought this movie was a great representation of what I see and hear from millions of pain patients across the United States. This movie is one of the best, in-depth depictions of what we deal with on a daily basis as patients. Here is what I saw in the movie.
I saw the reality of what I have been living with since September 26, 2002 after an auto accident that led me to have no choice but to live with chronic pain. The main character, Claire shows the challenges of living with pain. Her symptoms matched many of the symptoms that I have dealt with on a daily basis. With not only showing the pain that sometimes makes you scream out. They also did a great job showing the loss of energy, balance -coordination issues, body temp regulation problems, depression & anger, dystonia, loss of appetite and vomiting, memory issues (reminders about reminders), and sleeping problems.
The movie also gives a great perspective on some of the treatment options that are available. Claire went through so much to get out of pain, but to no avail. She had to find ways to cope. They showed a wide variety from invasive surgery, medications (not just opioids) but other medication, and aqua therapy. They showed less invasive tools that can help with the coping of life with chronic pain; quiet/dark room or house, music therapy, and even turning to other substances like alcohol.
This movie shows a woman who is processing her own chronic pain from physical injuries, but takes it even further. The script writer was cleaver enough to use of her friend who committed suicide to help process and tell her story (it was easier for us as viewers to follow verses a woman talking to herself, it put a face to the story of the person who committed suicides story). I can say for myself losing over 50 friends in the past 12 years who were living in pain I know how much of a struggle this is and how delicate it is to navigate with those of us still living and fighting this daily battle. We are in a way relieved that our friend is out of pain, but at the same time sad that we are here on earth – left behind. We see how great it would be to be out of pain for eternity, but know that we have a purpose here and it is not our time to go.
CAKE reminded me of a few important lessons. First, you can’t get better by working harder, you have to work smarter. We need to figure out how, where and on what we want to spend our energy pennies[i]. Second, people who don’t live in pain want to know how we do it. We typically say moment by moment, or I don’t know how I do it. We find a way. We negotiate with ourselves to do what must be done, what needs to be done. Does that mean we get to do all we want to be done? No. Does that make us less of a person? No. Thirdly, people in pain take less life for granted. The closet scene where she takes out only a little bit only to make a messy pile outside the closet. That was a step. That was an accomplishment in the daily life of a chronic pain patient. We are not asking for people to save us, we are working to save our energy pennies for what is important in life while still maintaining a life of whatever sort we can muster up.