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Category Archives: chronic pain addiction

Digesting “Cake” the movie

The movie “Cake” starring Jennifer Aniston allows us to journey into the life of a chronic pain patient. I anticipated the movie providing the transformational energy of a watershed moment. I anticipated hundreds of people commenting on relevant articles about the movie. I anticipated people and conversations would stir with insight.

The Pain community is doing a great job of getting the word out through media sources. But I am left wondering “Why is “Cake” not stirring more conversation?”

Statistics cite over 100 million Americans have been diagnosed with chronic pain. We all know someone or have been that someone who is included in these numbers. I spent over 40 years with this unwelcome bedfellow.

Maybe I should not be so surprised. Pain has its own unique set of dynamics.

Pain patients are often their own worst enemy. Many of us go years denying what we are experiencing, fearing it may require lengthy, expensive and inconvenient measures to correct. Or we spend years frustratingly going from doctor to doctor, procedure to procedure, medication to medication searching for relief or proper diagnosis. In both cases, we struggle to find the words to truly explain how we feel.

“Cake” exposes some raw truths that perhaps we would rather not know. It is disturbing to think that a friend or loved one might be undergoing the same tortured life as Claire, the main character.

It is unpleasant to be on a plane with a crying baby. It makes us uncomfortable. We need the baby to be soothed. It disturbs our comfort when we are aware of someone who is unconsolable.

Does the movie “Cake” touch on something deep within us that is too difficult to consider? We live in a world where we have the tools to fix a lot of medical problems. Does the fact that chronic pain is no easy fix seem incomprehensible? Is it to costly to imagine that there are many Claire’s in this world trying to make it through each day?

The movie provides an opportunity to engage in conversation. I pray it increases awareness and moves us closer to identifying causes, cures and resources. I pray it broadens understanding of the multi-faceted complexity of pain. I pray it minimizes the gap between patients and those who love and care for them.

 

Playing with Chronic Pain

I just got back from an amazing vacation in Mexico that centered around swimming with dolphins. They are truly amazing creatures. I felt drawn to want to be around their energy. Evolving over ten million years ago, they are considered one of the most intelligent animals. Play is an important part of their culture. This tells me they understand something significant.

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which…. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he is always doing both…” -Zen Buddhist teaching

With Chronic Pain, it is too easy to become serious about everything. Taking a lesson from the dolphins, that play is an essential activity, I am anxious to incorporate their wisdom. I can already guess that it will make some unbearable parts of my day more bearable. Hey, if we can redo the daily food pyramid, maybe it is time we rethink our priorities regarding daily activity needs.

Have you understood the wisdom of the dolphins and put play in each day? What works for you?

Transforming Pain

As a child, I remember my father doing a trick where he would hold a coin in his hand, make it disappear and then magically reappear behind one of my ears.I was amazed at how this happened.

This morning watching the Royal Wedding, it was equally magical for me thinking about how Kate was transformed from a commoner to a Princess with her wedding vows. She is no different a person than who she was yesterday, but now her life will have the capacity to expand in unimaginable ways.

Sometimes I think that as chronic pain sufferers, our pain has robbed us of our original identity. It has taken away from our self image and perceived value. What we need to do is give value back to ourselves. Believe that we are worthy of the best that life has to offer and never stop believing that tomorrow can be transformational, just like today was for Princess Kate.

Keep believing that transformations, large or small, are possible. Here are some magic coins for safekeeping.

Favorite Blogs

I was so humbled to accept an award from a fellow blogger, Wendy Burnett at Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired.  I  am just  getting around to fulfilling the requirements that go along with this honor by selecting my favorite blogs and doing a brief description of them.

* Accept the award and post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

* Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. (if possible)

* Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are some of the blogs that have inspired, informed and uplifted me.

1 . Dancing with Pain, Loolwa Khazzoom is the founder and CEO of Dancing with Pain®, a health & wellness company that offers natural pain relief solutions and that has been featured in media outlets including ABC News and The New York Times.  Her approach and program are worth checking out.

2. How to Cope with Pain, a blog hosted by a Board Certified Psychiatrist in practice for 18 years in Pennsylvania who focuses on chronic  pain  patients. His blog is always insightful, provocative and educational. Sign up for his monthly Pain blog carnival.

3. Chronic Babe for those who are not defined by their pain, but want to help define pain. My only regret is that blogs  did not exist twenty years ago. This would have been a “home”. It is wonderful for networking, resourcing and just making each day more meaningful by being able to share with others on chronic pain journeys.

4. Addiction Free Pain Management, Dr Grinstead treats chronic pain patients and other co-existing disorders. His informed and heartfelt understanding of pain issues and broad based approach to treating them makes me wish I lived a whole lot closer to his center.

5. The Positive Mind, the Di Mele Center in NY is both blog and radio program focusing on helpful resources in dealing with life issues. And with chronic pain, I have found that the more tools I have in my tool bag to deal with stressors, the better I am at pain management.

6. Health.com always has interesting articles on everything from side effects of pain meds to improving your sex life when dealing with chronic pain.

7. Heroes of Healing Heroes of Healing is a non-judgmental, forum-based website for caregivers and those in pain to come together to share personal stories of struggle, perseverance and triumph. Very validating.

8. Life with Chronic Pain:A how-to guide Sue takes a glass-half-full approach to her disease and says she tries to do something useful every day.

9. Creaky Joints: Bringing Arthritis to its Knees . The name says it all. There are several great columnists all speaking from their personal and professional points of view on issues. Very uplifting.

10. Overcoming Pain by Mark Borigini discusses why people experience chronic pain, and the power they have to de-intensify it. Great topics, information and insight.

11. Rising Above, John has an incredible personal story and a very inspirational newsletter that you can get.

12. Graceful Agony a long time favorite. Jolene believes in living your best life in spite of pain and offers lots of reflective articles about her journey and resources.

13. Phylor’s blog I always enjoy her musings, creativity and alternative approaches and research.

14. HealthSkills a blog for health professionals working in pain management. I value her research and love to read what is being discussed. I believe that those of us in pain can help inform those who work with pain. And I value being informed.

15. Wordle.net this is not a blog but a great website for creating word clouds. I have used it to create lovely graphics for many presentations. Just upload one of your blog articles and see what it does with it. It  puts joy in my day when I see the words that I have used, their frequency and have them arranged artfully.

Chronic Pain and Weight Issues

Talk about a double whammy, it’s bad enough dealing with pain issues but when you couple that with hearing your doctor say “Losing some weight would  take some pressure off your joints and relieve some pain”. That is like asking someone with joint pain to comfortably walk down this rocky road. It is an extremely difficult challenge.

Of course it makes sense, on a logical level. Anyone in pain would do anything to lessen their discomfort. But when you are facing daily doses of pain and the only pleasure you can count on comes from being able to indulge in your favorite snack, being told that you need to lose extra pounds sounds like “And we need to deprive you of your one consistent pleasure”.

Anyone who is dealing with chronic pain and weight issues needs the assistance of compassionate professionals and loved ones who understand that this is a very slippery slope that needs to be tenderly navigated.

Can Happiness be achieved with Chronic Pain

MaryByrneEigelDo we have to sacrifice being happy when we are left to deal with chronic pain? The happiness we might have experienced in the past doing such things as tending a backyard garden  can become overwhelming and exact a heavy pain price when you add chronic pain to the mixture.  I have cringed hearing folks share how they just had to get out and tend their garden even though they knew it would cause their pain to escalate. How can this bring the same happiness?

Gretchen Rubin spent a year testing past wisdom and current research regarding  how to be happy. Her findings are published  in her new book “The Happiness Project”. It offers several suggestions/strategies for taking a look at all the parts of our life, sorting out the essential things and allowing ourselves to be mindful of what does make us happy. And by getting to know ourselves better we might be able to limit or dismiss activities that no longer fit without sacrificing happiness.

Living with chronic pain often means that many compromises have to be made.  I have chosen to be happy with planting flowers in hanging baskets on my patio when in years past my whole yard was a blaze of daylilies, irises and annuals. But reading some of Gretchen’s findings, this same choice is often made by those without chronic pain because they realize they no longer have the time for certain activities.

Have you had to modify what makes you happy? What do you think about the Happiness Project? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Insight into Pain

I just finished reading “My Stroke Of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor. She is a Harvard trained neuroanatomist doing brain research who woke up one morning and experienced a stroke on the left side of her brain.  She documents her stoke and recovery from an extremely unique perspective, she knew what was happening as it was happening. Among the many lessons she shares is  how we each possess the ability to find “peace”, to quiet mental chatter and exist in the moment. Here is a link to her TEDtv appearance.

For me, the book validates  the importance of activities, like meditation, that I employ  to quiet chronic pain. It addresses the unique relationship that our thoughts have in regards to our well being. The wisdom that she presents, in  a very readable form, impacts our understanding of the mind/body relationship.

Have you read or heard about the book? What are your thoughts?

Pattern of Pain

“The signature of your journey is inscribed in your soul”.

I had this as a journal entry from a few years back, so I am not sure where it comes from.  It took me a lot of years to accept the fact that pain was a major player in my life. It angered me that I had to accept its presence and demands.

Viewing pain as a thread of my personal tapestry, I can see how my life has learned to weave in and around it and caused me to know and grow in new ways. I acknowledge the pattern that pain has woven in my life. And am thankful for some of the places it has forced me to travel, like pursuing my personal artwork.

I hope that for all of us who encounter chronic pain that we can see some beauty in the pain pattern of  our journey.

The Part of Chronic Pain that we can control

John O’Leary, a motivational speaker,  was a 9 year old burn victim,with burns covering 100% of his body, who was given less than a 1% chance to live. John is a real inspiration and talks about his ability to move his focus beyond his scars. He has a website and monthly inspirational newsletter that speaks from the heart. Here is a link to a video where he talks about controlling not our circumstances but our approach to them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmqZAlJNYXc

Can you identify with John’s message?

Optical Illusion of Pain

I am convinced that there is a wicked optical illusion game that pain can play. The definition of an optical illusion is “an experience of seeming to see something that does not exist or that is other than it appears”. Like these two orange circles, they appear different in size, but are actually the same size.

The last four months I have been coping with a swollen, painful knee. When I look at it, the swelling seems very obvious. But when it is measured it is only minimally swollen.  So I ask the question how can something that hurts so much be so measurably small? The noise and commotion on the inside of my body are huge and somehow when I look at the area causing the pain I see a larger than usual body part. Maybe what I am seeing has the weight of the pain I am feeling and that causes me to see the joint much larger than it really is. Size, like beauty,  is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Have you had the sensation that your pain makes your painful body part feel much larger than it’s actual physical size?