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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Pain - and especially chronic pain - can be a major factor that deminishes the quality of life.

There is a variety of different kinds of pain, but generally I gues it's valid to descern between two

general kinds of pain: physical and mental. The two kinds of pain do have similar, if not the same

effects on a person, as the perception of pain varies, depending on the individual.

Generally speaking the individual perception (of the intencity) of pain varies by different factors.

Amongst them:

- gender

- cultural background

- age

I guess most of us (if not all) expericenced pain on one level or the other (especially here on this board,

due to the common leisure activity). Some people from the 'outside' may regard (fire)spinners as

"masochists", due to the (natureal) imperfection in which we are pursuing our "craft".

Further I would suppose that most of us have perceived other people being in pain at one moment in their lives.

Whilst it is said, that women in general are able to withstand pain better than males, due to their biological

predesposition. Women will have to experience the pain of giving birth as a part of their "program", i.e. when

giving birth to a child. It is believed that the pain of giving birth to a child is (amongst) the most intense pain

a human being can experience, one of the highest pains an average male may experience in his lifetime, may

be "giving birth" to a kidney stone - which is believed to be the second most intense kind of pain a human

being can experience.

Hence both genders (generally speaking) are usually raised to deal with pain in a different way. Boys are not

supposed to express their pain in the same way, or to the same extent as girls. This is due to our history in

which boys will become men and as such would take the part of "fighters", whilst girls are (generally) raised

to life for a different purpose. IMO this approach is not doing us much good.

However, in different cultures the approach towards pain varies by cultural background, too. 'Naturalistic'

ethnic groups and cultures for say, deal with pain differently and develop techniques to enable the individual to

deal with that emotion on a different scale, than for say "civilized" ones - this (amongst other factors) might be due

to the presence of potential medication, or it's absence. Some practice "de-sensibilitation", meaning that pain is

administered intentionally on a small scale in order to enable the individual to also cope more easy with

pain on a big scale.

It seems to be apparent that the experience of the 'sensation' itself is a learned response, learned from early

childhood on. Most of us might have observed that children have a very immediate response to the receival of

pain and a scratch (that wouldn't bother an adult too much) sometimes is much like the end of the world.

I'm certain that the educational factors are playing a big part in the experience of pain later on.

When the body and mind are confronted with pain, certain physical mechanisms are engaged - certainly the

physicist here on this board, or those experienced in any kind of healing will be able to give more detailled

informations about this, and it's not my intention to point this out in detail here.

Pain itself is a mechanism of the body to raise awareness to the mind: Something here is seriously wrong!

You (mind) should become aware of this. The sensation of pain itself is common, the approach of how to deal

with it, has a whide variety.

What I am aiming at here, is to point at chronic pain and its effect on the life of the individual, personally and

- as an effect - in it's social environment.

Chronic means (much) longer than immediate. That can be weeks, months and up to decades.

Personally I had the "chance" to experience pain on all scales, from early childhood on - in both categories

(physical and psychological). Not only I had to observe the seperation of my parents, at age 2 - one year later

I had an accident, involving boiling hot tea and a nylon sweater. The result of them both fusing can still be

observed on my chest today - 35 years later - and resulted in fellow children look at me with a funny (strange)

attitude. Next was an infected colon at age 5, which hospitalized me and a few events, that left scars on my

temple (body) and the usual "atrocities" my 9 year older brother committed against me and the fact that I was

regarded an 'outsider' and experienced physical violence all of my time, up to High School.

Luckily I never had to experience a broken bone *touches wood*, but the major (physical) stations namely are:

A car accident in my twens, leaving me with a broken shoulder and ripped bands (Thossy II) - but the aftermath

of the following operation was a lot more painful than the actual event. A surfing accident, which traumatized my

other shoulder (and left me with a year of rehab), a violent attack that extracted a tooth and recently a (medium)

motorcycle accident, which left me with a sour ankle for more than a month now.

Psychologically I had the wonderful experience of being seperated from my child for more than 4 years now, the

"usual" loss of beloveth partners under a variety of circumstances that do not long for completion of the entire scale.

Now, besides the psychological short term effects that pain have on the mind, it's more the sociological effect that

I am pointing at.

It seems to be apparent that human beings do prefer to share laughter and joy, exclusively. Meaning that the one

who has got trouble rarely is appreciated - creating a feedback loop. Please note the graph at the end of this post.

Alienation of individuals, who are in the effort of coping with chronic pain, often adds to the sensation of said individual

feeling "rejected by life itself" and I'm inclined to claim that chronic pain is one of the main reasons for committing


The problem, as I see it in todays "modern" and predominantly western society, is the perception of invincibility of

most individuals (i.e. "This can never happen to me"). This perception is highly erraneous and a potentially lethal

one too. Fact of the matter is, that this can happen to anyone, at any time.

This knowledge can be both: hindering and liberating - depending on the extent.

Certainly the (human) mind is able to take a certain ammount of pain, beyond which it simply switches off. Same

applies to the observation of pain in which empathic qualities play a great role. Which is why - for say - surgeons

HAVE to learn a different (disconnected) approach - but I do not know enough about this to thoroughly refer to the

specific subject.

There are a few threads on this forum, who individually touch the topic and if you have any stories, or even

experiences yourself with it, please feel free to share.

Especially if you know of any techniques about "how to cope with pain" and minimize suffering (like pinching

your earlobe, when burning your fingers, the need to apply huge ammounts of ice on 1st (and second (?))

degree burns to take the heat away, or even the effects of hypnosis), you are more than welcomed to post them here.

Please note, that I moved the original content of my initial post to my intro thread. It's not lost, but I feel that

this topic is worth much more than a only personal report upon suffering from (chronic) pain and it's (social) effects.

Non-Https Image Link

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. wink hug

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1176706253)

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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GOLD Member since Mar 2004

Captain Shawnie the Dreaded
Location: , Canada

Total posts: 126
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.

I am open to discussion on any of these topics.


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