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Tag Archives: pediatric chronic pain

Communicating vs. Complaining

I was asked to speak at a local retirement complex last week regarding Pain Management and issues related to my new book, Silent Courage. One of the topics that encouraged our group discussion was the need to express our needs. One of the participants asked, “But isn’t that complaining?”

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I said no. “It’s a good thing to communicate.”

Then she asked, “Why do we feel it is a bad thing?”

What a great question.

It seems that we confuse complaining with communicating. And the only difference between the two may be our attitude. Communicating is relaying information. Complaining implies that we moan or groan as we speak.

When we communicate that we have particular needs we are asking the world to stop, look, and listen. Then simply say, “What may work for you does not work for me. I need [state what you need].”

By sharing that we require something like a handicapped parking spot because walking long distances is difficult we are raising awareness that distance matters. If we travel through this world only thinking of ourselves, it is easy to remain selfish. If folks who were in wheelchairs, who could not climb stairs, never expressed their challenges, we may not have elevators that benefit us all in buildings today.

It is our attitude when we express our feelings that categorizes what we say.

My husband’s roommate in college was blind. When you would enter his space I remember asking him if it was okay if I turned a light on. His reply was, “Sure, I forgot you have that problem.”

Never be afraid to claim the space you  need for your journey. Others may benefit, too.

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Facing our Fears: Chronic Pain Management

Anxiously driving to my doctor’s office yesterday, to have a small skin cancer removed, I heard this program on our local NPR station. The focus was on a group of compromised veterans who were challenging themselves to climb Halfdome in  Yosemite Park. I was gathering courage to face a small knife and here they were mustering courage to trust their prosthetic limbs on the face of a mountain.

As they passed the microphone around, they spoke of the importance of challenging yourself and building your confidence and trust.

What a marvelous way to think about dealing with chronic pain management. Finding those things that can reinforce our mental and emotional ability to deal is as important as our physical strength.

Check it out. They inspired me!

Measuring Chronic Pain Progress

It feels so great to be back posting. I have missed my blog friends but knew the only way a book gets written is to minimize distractions. I am nearing a conclusion, feeling good about it and look forward to sharing more about it soon!!

It dawned on me the other day that I might be using the wrong ruler to chart my progress. If I use one that has big spaces between numbers it feels like I make little progress. But if I scale down to a level that progress is actually measurable, like ounces on a digital scale, I have reason to rejoice.

Have you checked the type of ruler you are using lately?

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Turn Resistance to Chronic Pain Issues into Assistance

I have found myself in places I would rather not be. Being in pain is one of them. I have spent a lot of time and energy “trying not to be there.” I have denied my pain by refusing to recognize the importance of daily exercise, and suffered for it. I have challenged my pain by doing things I knew I should not do, and suffered for it. I have refused to accommodate my pain by doing things like wearing sensible shoes, and suffered for it.

A speaker I heard last week, Jaison, spoke about how we can change “resistance to assistance”  by altering our beliefs. Accepting that “You are in your rightful place” allows the energy you might spend denying a situation to be spent assisting with the situation.

Several years ago I was told that my blood sugar levels were high and I needed to see someone about controlling it. Expecting that this meant nothing more getting a lecture and another brochure, I willingly made the appointment. When I arrived the specialist took out a glucose meter and said “I want you to start taking your blood sugar levels every day.” I could have bolted at that moment. It took a lot of energy  not to flee.

I am not sure how much of what she said I actually heard.  Simultaneously echoing inside my head was,  “I don’t belong here, she is mistaken. My blood sugars aren’t that bad. I am a good person, I should not be hearing this.”

This was several years ago. I have accepted this diagnosis, but also realize that I still have resistance. I still need assistance with my resistance. When I realize that, like Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much,” it is a red flag to me that my resistance is strong and I am going to need a lot of assistance.  It is my choice whether to spend energy resisting or assisting.

Do you have a chronic pain related issue that you struggle to accept? What types of assistance have you had to use?

First Aid for Chronic Pain

This past weekend I was hit with a virus. It took me back to my pain days, when I was spending more time in bed than on my feet. I am guessing that most folks have had at least one encounter with a major virus, and can remember the anger, frustration and lack of energy that are part of this experience. Imagine how it would be if you were constantly trapped in this situation.

If you come across someone you love who battles chronic pain and you see them engaging in what might seem like a leisurely activity, like laying down and reading, don’t rush to judgement. They may appear to be lounging, but in reality, they are engaging in a healthy dose of “First Aid.” They are seeking a diversion from their situation. They are choosing to take control of their life and engage in something  manageable and meaningful. They are attempting to avoid suffering. This is good medicine. Encourage them and their efforts to stay engaged.

To see someone in pain, not engaging in a healthy activity, that is when you should worry. These folks are feeling a loss of control and trapped in their pain. Depression is sure to follow.

First Aid can consist of simple measures, but can also be life saving. Do you have certain “First Aid” measures that you employ to ward of suffering? What gives you a sense of being able to escape the ugly pit of chronic pain? Have you found yourself misjudged as being lazy when in fact you are doing the best that you can at a given point in time?

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.