Five Things Learned From My Chronic Pain
Our behavior is directly connected with how we think. Chronic pain develops stress, anger and sense of resignation from life.
It’s over ten years when my chronic pain began in 2019 when I had an emergency groin surgery. After four years I fell on my head resulting in severe headaches,
irritating windy sounds in my ears, pain in hip and back. Add to it a list of problems that include sore muscles, numb hands and feet, legs hit by electrical shocks and random pain throughout my whole body. I visited several doctors and finally was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, neuropathy and tinnitus.
The pain made my life miserable. It controlled and damaged the quality of my life and physical condition.
I attended a three-week outpatient program offered by Mayo Clinic Pain Rehabilitation Center in 2012 and again in 2018 and I learnt five important things which helped me in dealing with chronic pain. I am sharing these in the hope it might help the reader.
Pain is not only physical
Chronic pain hurt the flesh but it also effects the emotions negatively. This produces depression and anxiety and increases the pain. It badly affects relationships.
In my case, it damaged my work because due to stress I made mistakes and missed my deadlines. It was equally destructive at home because of loss of sleep and constant irritation. This resulted in negative thoughts which made me think whether I want to live any more like this. Then came the worst against my wish I had to quit my work and lost my paychecks, health insurance and retirement savings. This destroyed my sense of self purpose and worth.
I learnt that pain and emotional issues are both connected and the importance of mental health in dealing with mood and stress challenges.
Not all pains can be cured
Some pains can be cured and some cannot. It’s a hard fact. Medical science does not have all the cures or a magic pill. It’s sad that some people may have to live with chronic pain for rest of their life.
Before I knew this reality ,I visited all types of health care providers –primary , specialists , rheumatologists ,neurologists, audiologists, therapists, psychiatrics. I went through all kinds of diagnostic tests such as –X-Rays, MRIs and CT Scans. I took opioid and non-opioid pain killers, homeopathic and herbal treatment.
I attended seminars on pain and spent hours and hours surfing the net. I even had surgery. Some of these helped ease my pain and some didn’t and some actually made matters worse. All of these efforts cost me huge time and money.
Not all Pains are harmful
Pains are of two types: acute and chronic. Acute pain happens when body tissue is damage by injury or a burn and lasts for until six months period when treated on time. Chronic pain lasts longer than six months because the pain signals remain active in the nervous system for months or even years even after the cause like injury has healed.
After I found out the difference between acute and chronic, I became better at dealing with Chronicle pain by not letting it worry me about it.
Think Positive Live Positive
Our behavior is directly connected with how we think. Chronic pain develops stress, anger and sense of resignation from life. This gives birth to negative thoughts like, “Life is not fair “, “I had enough of life “ These self pitying thoughts are unhelpful and only makes the pain worse. It leads to what experts call Pain catastrophizing. It’s imagining the pain larger than what it actually is.
I combated Catastrophizing by shifting from negative self defeating thinking to positive attitude.
If chronic pain has proven to be incurable and is less harmful than feared, this begs the question-What to do? Well, live with it and deal with it as best as you can? That’s easier said than done. Below are some useful tips I discovered that will help the body and mind to function better:
a) Better management of pain
Our first and natural reaction to pain is groaning, crying, and rubbing the pain area. It doesn’t make the pain go away and escalates anxiety leading to increased pain.
One easy solution is to take your mind off pain. I watch some comedy movie. Listen to music, a sitting with friends or take up some hobby like gardening. This takes the mind of pain.
It may seem odd but movement reduces pain and improves the condition.
People with chronic pain create more problems by not sensibly managing their daily affairs. In good days they do too much and too little in bad days.
I learnt to deal with things in an organized manner. For instance, if I have to pick a heavy load; instead of picking it all up, I divide it into pieces which are lighter. I take regular walks which are good for body and mind and refreshing. When we have pain it strains are muscles that increase the pain. I found that deep breathing and exercises for muscle relaxation help reduce tension and that helps in dealing with chronic pain.
When Pain is gain
We have all heard the famous proverb –no pain no gain. Sometimes it works the other way round .I lost a huge deal from chronic pain but I also gained a lot through my experience. I am proud that I learnt how to control the pain instead of the pain controlling me. This has uplifted my self-respect.
And also I am helping others to deal with chronic pain which has given a new purpose in my life and wining new friends. Pain is there and so is new joy in living.