Thanks for taking the time to read this and more than that, I'd be very grateful if you have anything positive and constructive to contribute. Please take effort as not to derail this thread - if you have nothing to contribute, just sit back, relax, educate yourself and keep your cursor off the "submit" button, thanks. EDITED_BY: FireTom (1176706253)
Posted:Wow. Great thread FireTom. And I am hearing a lot of good things from everybody.
Following is a detailed account on how I have become quite familiar with chronic pain. If you are not interested in hearing about my pain, no offense taken by my and jump ahead a few paragraphs to where I will give my input and reply to FireTom's first post of this thread.
I too am familiar with pain. As some of you know I work in the outdoor adventure industry and pain, albeit usually temporary, is something that goes hand in hand with it. (Squishing yourself into a 6 ft kayak, jamming various body parts into granite cracks and the like... of course all the gory accidents)
Where I have become ver acquainted with chronic pain, again, as some of you may know, three years ago I dislocated my SI joint and herniated a disk by 1 cm at L5-S1. For months and months I played it off to be muscular. I was a very young adult and the idea of a herniated disk never occured to me. That's supposed to be an injury for 45+ year olds. Yes I guess it CAN happen to me. This disk was pinching on the nerve that feeds my right leg, at the root, where it attached to the spinal cord. I had surgery on it 10 months later and from there I recovered, but not fully. I had pain in my back and leg and other unpleasant issues to go along with. Not one pain free day throughout those years.
Being the person I am, I did not let it slow me down, even when perhaps I should have in certain instances. Just this past October/November I found the pain had worsened coniderably over a month. Within one week it became terrible. I went from white water raft guiding to limping in three days and in three more days I was unable to walk with severe pain and numbness in both legs. (also along with other unpleasant issues) I was admitted to hospital and remained there stoned on painkillers for a few weeks. This time round I have three herniated disks pressing on nerves. The one I had the operation on is the one in the worst shape. Less than a 5% chance of that happening. Yes I guess it CAN happen to me. Currently, from the waist down, I'm functioning at less than 40%.
I totally did the disappearance from society and like many people would in the same situation, I stopped seeing friends and going out. I went frombeing top of my class, class rep and on the Dean's list to flunking out of my college outdoor adventure diploma program in my last semester. I am on painkillers. The same kind and amount of them as people in palliative care. I am looking at a pile of school debt, unable to work, forced to live with my parents again and I am officially disabled for the time being. As you can well imagine, this all has caused me a tremendous amount of mental pain as well. I am currently waiting for a surgical consult and I have placed a lot of hope in that.
I've come out of that now. I am surrounded by friends and looking forward to when I am well enough to complete my program in college.
That is my story.
Now. The question by FireTom... Asking for advice on how to cope with pain. Here is my question. Are you/we seeking to cope with it or to manage it?
Dr. Hamilton Hall brings to light what may be one fo the biggest obstacles faced in living with pain and that is that people become obsessed with their pain. They live a life that is pain focused. I think we all can accept that the mind and body are so closely related that it can sometimes be hard to differentiate between the two. Now don't be mistaken. He is not saying that the pain is all in one's head. He is not saying that the pain isn't real. He's not invalidating the pain that the individual is in. not at all. All pain is real and has a big effect on the person living with it whether they are living a pain focused life or not. Living in a pain focused manner will make the pain worse though. Many people find it hard to accept that they are pain focused and as such are making their pain worse. It is not easy to recognize it in one's self, to admit to it or to deal with it, which really is a shame. So before you discount this.. if you are suffering from chronic pain.. do you want to reject this idea or do you want to get better? What have you got to lose?
Firstly, I said it is hard to recognize. Dr. Hamilton Hall uses the example of one of his back pain patients to illustrate this point. She told him all about her garden. In the grips of chronic back pain, she found that gardening, her favourite hobby, was very much a challenge for her in her condition. She proudly told him all about how she made each bed to be only a foot or two in diameter so that she could work at it, have a rest and then roll or crawl over to her next bed to do more gardening. She was so proud of this "solution". the truth is that she is letting pain control her entire life. She has allowed her pain to control even her landscape! You may say "At least she wasn't bedridden" But she wasn't working and really had no other interests than her "garden of agony" She was a prisoner of her own pain and that garden was a was a proud symbol of a pain focused lifestyle.
Just one example to illustrate pain focus. What is there to aim for in that particular woman's struggle with pain. What I am saying here is that if you choose to let pain rule you, then there is no hope for anything better. And there is no reason to let yourself become pain focused if you have the desire to have less pain. Living a pain focused life will make pain worse because it is the center of your life and it will start to define you and it will just escalate more and more until you decide that you will not have a life that revolves around pain. And as I said, it is hard for a person to recognize it; where's the line and how do you know once you've crossed it? It's hard to admit that you are a pain focused individual. Back to the "that can't happen to me" attitude. But again... But do you want to reject the suggestion that it could be you? Or do you want to feel better?
Another difficult point in chronic pain is sort of in the same boat... Hanging on to the pain. Sometmies you see people who have been in chronic pain for...say... 6 years. They've tried pretty well everything under the stars but nothing helped. Then they find themselves having good days and the pain all but goes away. Many people are so discouraged by their pain that they cannot accpet that they feel better because nothing dramatic has happened. And what would your neighbor /co-worker/friend/partner/relative say? "You mean you've been helplessly in pain and it just went away!?" They feel like if they have to live with dramatic pain, it had better have a dramatic cure!
Lastly, a piece of advice for all. This one is becoming hugely popular. Create for yourself an opportunity to watch the movie/read the book called "The Secret", many of us,myself included, have been living many parts of the life "The Secret" encourages people to live without even realizing it. It sort of ties into the pain focus I was talking about. the movie and the book are both quite cheesy(Just look at the title of it!), but take from it the parts that speak to you and you will have realized that in yourself, you have the ability to make huge changes. Just ignore the cheesy stuff. It shouldn't be so hard to fid it, since it's gaining enormous popularity, but I do recommend it. The secret is one law of the universe and that is the law of attraction. it tells us we have the ability to attract to us whatever is in our thoughts. If you think "pain pain pain" all the time, yo are attracting pain to yourself. The law of attraction doesn't understand negatives "not, don't, never" so even by thinking "Idon't want pain, I don't want pain" All that is heard is "want pain want pain" and that is what you are attracting to yourself. The world today is excellent at saying and thinking what they don't want, but it's so simple. Just think about what you do want. I won' t go into any more detail. It really can't be explained in a paragraph. Otherwise they wouldn't have written the book!
I realize that this is long as crap. For those of you who read it all, I hope that it has given you something to think about, created some ideas in your head and have been a helpful piece of advice on your road to living a healthier life.