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Category Archives: chronic pain addiction

Pain or Suffering with chronic pain

Those of us in the Chronic Pain club know what we individually experience when we are conscious of our pain. But there is another sensation “suffering” that comes when we are self conscious of our pain. When we feel the pain of our pain. When we feel the loses, the accommodations and the special needs that arise as a result of our pain.

The suffering is easier to control because it is an emotional reaction to the pain. Seperating these two bedfellows can help make an unberable day a little more bearable. I often ask myself “So are you in pain or are you suffering from your pain?”.

How do you feel about pain and suffering? Are they able to be seperated?

Chronic Pain and Depression

On this post by Dr. Kathleen Young is a brief checklist for depression. Anyone in chronic pain would test positively for depression on any given day.  There is a devilishly intimate relationship between pain and depression. We need to pat ourselves on the back when we are able to avoid its abyss. But we need to be reminded that depression is a force to be reckoned with and can often get beyond our control to deal with it. And that it is OK to seek counseling.

It is commonly known that pain patients often fall prey to the downward spiral of depression. So why aren’t physicians more apt to address this aspect of pain and dispense counseling scripts with pain scripts? We need to continue to push for more education and awareness regarding the close relationship between these two forces.

How have you dealt with depression and pain?

Meditation for Chronic Pain

There are some healing therapies that I incorporate into my day that I do not pretend to totally understand but know they are beneficial. Meditation is one of them. Here is a great article from  SpeakHealth.org showing brain scan evidence that meditation “leads to measurable changes in brain function”.

In addition to that, here is a CD that I purchased recently that is just marvelous for use with meditation or just relaxed listening. “Crystal Bowls, Chakra Chants” by Johnathan Goldman, who is a visionary in healing sound therapies. I could immediately feel it resonate within my body when I first heard the clips. I know there is a lot of science behind sound healing. I am just glad I do not have to totally understand it to be able to benefit.

What are some of your favorite healing sounds?

Sending Muscles back to School

Had a very interesting conversation at the chiropractor’s office this morning. It focused on why folks who have corrective surgery go back to old ways of walking and moving. The staff was struggling to understand why after much healing and physical therapy work would someone choose to go back to old habits. That is where I had to chime in and say what a challenge it was after corrective surgeries for your muscles to know how to do things “normally”.

For any of us who have had to modify the way we get around because the “normal” way is too painful, this new way becomes the norm for our muscles and brain signals. I know after my first hip surgery, I had no idea how to do things the proper way. It had been to long since I could move some muscles without pain. Physical Therapy helped to strengthen muscles, but those muscles had some bad habits. I would spend a lot of time just watching how people did simple things like get up from a chair, get into a car or even bend over. And it was only by observing others that I could  tell my muscles that is what I wanted them to do. And it was sounding like a foreign language to them at first.

I can see how to an outsider it does not seem logical and maybe even seems lazy. Our muscles may have the capacity to move in new ways, but they need to go back to school and be re-educated. Have you had any experiences with being physically able to have more range of motion but feel like the communication lines between your brain and muscles needs to be reopened?

Reconnecting Mind and Body

When something hurts, we want to eliminate it. As a child, my legs hurt a lot. I convinced myself that my life would be so much better if I could just cut my legs off and throw them away. So mentally, I know I did that. My self image existed from my waist up, I did not need or want my legs.

My hip replacement surgeries relieved me of my pain. But here was the tough part, convincing myself that my legs could now be my friend. How could I begin to love something that had hurt me so much? And how could I trust that they would not betray me again.

It has taken me a long time to search for these answers on how to reconnect. Things that have really helped  have  been alternative therapies: reiki, cranial-sacral, healing touch, acupuncture, meditation, body talk and others. I don’t claim to understand how they accomplish this goal, but I feel a difference. And for me I know I feel better because I care more about my whole body and its well being. And that I believe that I can do things, like mild yoga, that were out of reach previously.

I continue going to professionals for this healing. I accept that it has helped and I am thankful for the role it has played.

Have you had experiences with therapies that have assisted you in reconnecting painful body parts?

Why the Weight Gain after Joint Replacement

In an article by Tracey Bryant, The University of Delaware researchers  Joseph Zeni and Lynn Snyder-Mackler in the Department of Physical Therapy are doing research on Rehabilitation of Older Adults after Knee Replacement. Their findings showed a weight increase in 67% of those having  had knee surgery, compared with a control group.  Over a two year time period the average weight gain was 14 pounds.

Their findings included the following statement :

“For physical therapists and surgeons, the common thinking is that after a patient’s knee has been replaced, that patient will be more active,” says Snyder-Mackler. “But the practices and habits these patients developed to get around in the years prior to surgery are hard to break, and often they don’t take advantage of the functional gain once they get a new knee,” she notes.

For those of us that have endured long term chronic pain, have altered our lifestyles for years and were in great pain prior to surgery, I totally relate to this statement.  I know the gap that existed for me when I was suddenly pain free and I was supposed to trust that I would now be able to do things I could not do previously. I remember having to watch others do things, like get into a car. I had a developed a crazy distorted way of doing it. And what was strange was that I could watch another person do it but my muscles struggled to understand it. I had to go very slowly, trying to imitate the move and eventually I could do it. But it was as if there was a loud internal voice  telling me “You are really going to pay a pain price if you try to do that. You can’t do that”

This is the reason I continue to want to connect on this subject of chronic pain recovery. There is much more that someone needs to do to thrive. In addition to joint replacement surgery, we need other interventions. We have to reconnect with our selves as we were before the pain experience. Pain leaves a lot of debris that needs to be cleared to fully appreciate a new lifestyle.

Have you felt a disconnect in being able to appreciate your abilities post pain/surgery? How have you dealt with it?

Improving Chronic Pain Management

There is a wonderfully researched and clearly stated  article on Dr. Grinstead’s blog regarding improving Chronic Pain Management. The problems are listed; informed recommendations are made. Let’s move the information forward and spread the word about what needs to be done. Here is a link.

“We need to Improve Chronic Pain Management” Dr. S. Grinstead

The Secrecy of Pain

“The most exhausting thing in life…. is being insincere.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Talking to my sister the other night, she said to me that in our childhood, I gave no bodily clues that I was in such constant pain. I found that hard to believe. To me the pain was omnipresent. It was seldom not there. But somehow I had learned that it was best to not talk about it.What caused me to work so hard to hide my pain?

Did I hope that by not acknowledging it, it would go away?

I knew of no other person, besides an elderly aunt, who suffered with constant pain. I had complained on many occasions to my parents about how much my legs hurt. They were at a loss to know what to say or offer any relief.

I feel committed to conversing and hearing others converse and validate their pain experiences. It is only by trying to find the words to communicate the intensity of these experiences that we can move the understanding forward.  There may come a day when we have a socially acceptable way of communicating how we are feeling rather than spend so much energy hiding it.

Have you hid your pain? What causes you to do this?

Pain can be an Addiction

After my hip replacements, I felt blessed to be out of chronic pain. But gratitude and paralysis were the twins that visited me. How could I feel so happy to have a new painfree life but feel so incapable of knowing how to move and trust it? My pain had done some real harm. It had been an unwelcome tenant  for too long. My surgeon thought I was crazy when I asked him the name of support groups for those who had been in chronic pain and were now pain free.  I knew what I needed. There was more work to be done in my mind, body and spirit to be to reclaim myself.

A few years ago I discovered this great book FEARLESS CHANGE by Judy Saalinger of Lasting Recovery. When I saw that she recognized that Pain and Chronic Illness required the same recovery work as other addictions, my heart sang. She understands pain as an addiction. I invite you to check out her blog.  She has audio chapters from FEARLESS CHANGE there.

Reinventing Ourselves

Driving home, listening to NPR, they were discussing the current economic situation. It occured to me that these economic times and chronic pain have a lot in common. Both have robbed many of us of our livelihoods which can translate to self image. And we are forced to reinvent who we are, what we can and cannot do and what brings us joy.

Many years ago, before hip surgery, standing for any length of time was intolerable. I was a teacher. Teachers do a lot of standing. My pain forced me to think of other options. My backgound was in art, but the only way to have a secure income was to do something like teach. I had never considered the possibility of being a studio artist, who could sit and work.  But my pain caused me to open that door of possibility. And it was a wise move. I have had a successful second career as a practicing artist. In a way, I have my pain to thank.

Have you had to reinvent yourself? How have you done it? What were the biggest challenges?