Yesterday one of my pain heroes, Bronnie Lennox Thompson over at Health Skills, posted an article that really resonated with me called ‘Deciding When to Say When: Pain Cure? Or Pain Managed? I left a pretty lengthy reply on her blog post, two of them, actually, and felt like they contained some thoughts I should share with you all as well about defining success when it comes to chronic pain.

After reading Bronnie’s post I started thinking about my relationship with pain and how much it’s changed over the years. Early on I had lost my sense of worth, my identity, and had become defined by pain and my perceived limitations. Pain was my sole focus – to the detriment of my relationships, the activities I enjoy, my creativity, my purpose, my meaning.

I was in a constant state of waiting for the pain to be gone so that I could get on with my life.

But then I realized that my life was still going on, even while the pain was there, and that I was missing out on it.

It took a shift in my definition of success and gaining permission, so-to-speak, from folks in the know to get back to living. To get back to being a person, just a person. Granted, I’m a person who has pain but now I am also a person who successfully and meaningfully lives with pain without it overly concerning me anymore. Without pain consuming my thoughts and causing uncontrollable anxiety or worry, without a sense of always having to work toward getting rid of it or making it better to be able to live right now.

When those things are our constant focus, that pain need be gone to be successful, we set ourselves up for failure when the pain sticks around, which is going to happen for a whole lot of us.

The real travesty of pain isn’t the pain part, it’s the failing to live part

Having pain that is not eradicated or ‘cured’ is not a failure. Failing to live a valued and meaningful life waiting for the pain to go away as a much bigger travesty.

I was there for a long time, I know how devastating it can be. It wasn’t until I stopped battling the pain, stopped waiting for the pain to go away, and finally accepted pain as a part of my life that I was able to get on with living.

And accepting the pain didn’t mean I gave up or conceded to it. It meant pain was no longer a battle to be won (that mindset hurt me for too long).

Acceptance meant making space for pain so I could make room for all the other things in my life that matter to me – my husband, my dog, my family and friends, my writing, getting out into nature, getting back to trail running, socializing, photography, traveling, being active, volunteering, sharing my story and trying to help others change their pain experience – so I could get on with living.

Not waiting, not fighting, not failing…living.

Once I made this switch in how I viewed my pain experience, once I removed the negative valence from the words ‘chronic’ and ‘pain’ and just accepted them as a part of the human experience and not something that need be overcome or fought or ignored in order to live meaningfully and successfully, the meaning of my pain changed. That’s success! The pain no longer meant that I was less than I was before or that I was less than others who have overcome their pain. The pain no longer meant that I was weak or broken.

The pain no longer meant that I needed to suffer or fight or concede – those were no longer my only options.

Once I understood the nature of pain a bit better, once I knew that I wasn’t under threat even though the pain was still there, the pain stopped being a limiting factor. I felt comfortable and confident in pursuing my life again. Living my life again. Enjoying my life. Changing my understanding of pain meant that I could pursue what matters to me, even when pain is still present.

Redefining Success

I had to stop defining success as the pain being gone in order for that to happen, though. Because what if the pain is never completely gone? Despite all my knowledge and all my best efforts, that’s a real possibility. And even if it’s gone at some point in my future, its not gone right now and I want to live right now, dammit.

So pain being gone could no longer my measure of success and how I was living my life became my measure of success in it’s stead.

It took some of the pain’s power away when I no longer felt like I had to get rid of it. It no longer defined me or limited me. It no longer controlled my days, my thoughts, my actions. I was no longer just a person with chronic pain; I was a person who experiences pain, just as I experience joy and happiness and sadness and frustration and calm and anger and curiosity and stress and excitement and anxiety and hope and pleasure and disappointment and laughter and love.

I am just a human with human experiences, one of which is pain. By no means does that one experience define me, just as no one of the others does. I am a combination of all of my experiences.

And I like being human! I like having experiences! So I want to have as many human experiences as possible. I want to live a meaningful and valued life, pain or no pain.

That’s success. At least to me.

Some thoughts for practitioners

I know a lot of practitioners have already changed their definition of success when it comes to treating people living with pain, but I also know there is still a pervasive sense among health care providers, and anyone working with folks with chronic/persistent pain, that success is measured by ‘curing’ pain. That success is being pain-free or reducing pain intensity. I understand the desire, but it’s not helpful nor realistic.

We need to come to a new understanding, together, both those living with pain and those who treat them (or love them). Success isn’t a cure, it isn’t being rid of pain, success is a life fully lived. A cure for chronic pain would be great, I’m in no way saying it isn’t. But we can’t wait for the cure to get on with life, we need to get on with life while working toward a cure.

So we need a different way of talking about pain, both as a society and, perhaps more importantly, between the person living with pain and their healthcare provider or pain treatment team. We need a better way of talking about pain and what ‘success is’ between the person in pain and their loved ones at home and their coworkers at their jobs and their friends and acquaintances in their lives.

We need to change our expectations, bringing them in line with reality, with the current understanding of pain science. We need to exchange knowledge, ideas, and experiences on a level playing field so we kind find mutual validation and understanding and discover better ways of moving forward.

We need to empower folks to live well with pain, to pursue the endless possibilities within their limitations. After all, no matter how great a doctor or therapist or pain team is, they can’t be there every minute of every day for the people living with pain. They can’t be there for every flare-up, they can’t be there for that person’s life.

Only we can change our experience

The person in pain needs to be the driving force behind all of this or they’re not going to experience much success. I was a passive seeker of relief for too long, searching for the doctor or surgeon or therapist or treatment method that would fix me. That would make the pain go away. It wasn’t until I became an active participant in my own experience, only when stopped looking for fixers and started seeking facilitators, that I was able to really change my experience of pain and my life.

To move forward, we have to change the conversation and the expectations. We have to move from people being passive recipients of care to being active agents in that care. These conversations can start during the patient/practitioner interaction, we can start to redefined success, to set realistic expectations, to develop plans – together – to move forward, to move toward an active, valued, meaningful life.

If the practitioner is always the all-knowing and an unquestioned expert, the patient will always be passive, we will continue to perpetuate some of the problems we are facing ourselves.

Hopelessness or hope?

Some practitioners have raised concerns to me that saying ‘right now there is no cure for pain but there are things we can do to change it’ will have their patients walking out of their office or clinic with lost hope, thinking ‘there’s nothing they can do for me’. But I don’t think that gives the patient enough credit. Yes, it’s true that patients are seeking treatment so their pain issues will be resolved, they do want a cure.

But they keep being led to believe there is one, so why wouldn’t they?

If we keep fostering this false hope and the ‘cure’ doesn’t work, yet again, and they have failed, yet again, what happens next? They have yet one more reason to lose hope. One more reason to feel defeated and depressed, to go to some deep, dark and scary places.

At least I did. When I kept seeking my pain solution in the next person or a method or a treatment that promised to fix me and those persons and methods and treatments didn’t work for me, I felt I failed as a patient. Again and again and again.  I felt like a disappointment, to myself, to the person trying to treat me, to my friends and family, to my coworkers and employers. I felt like I was doing this whole pain thing wrong because the pain was still there.

What really needs to be treated?

Why are patient’s seeking treatment? Is it because the pain is unbearable? Or is it because life has become limited because of the pain, because life has become unbearable?

How much of this is because of the of the pain itself and how much of it is because of what that experience means to the person? What if they are seeking treatment because they want to get back to work, to playing with their kids or grandkids or dog, to running or hiking or dancing or sparring, to getting out and socializing, to playing golf, to drinking with their buddies on Friday nights?

What if they’re seeking treatment so they can live there lives again?

If that’s the case, and it’s the limitations and the fears and the worries that need be addressed, isn’t it better to be open, honest, and realistic with that person? Isn’t it it better scenario to explain to a patient that chronic pain is complex and right now there is no cure for it, no magic pill or therapy or surgery, but that pain is not always threatening, especially when it’s chronic, and that means they can get back to living? Isn’t it better to give them permission to get to doing the things that matter to them, rather than making them wait for the pain to be gone to do so?

Isn’t it better to explain that there are many factors that contribute to chronic/persistent pain and that while sometimes not all of the pain will go away, that doesn’t mean that they’re damaged or broken and in need of fixing? That they’re not weak or less or diminished in some way because they have pain?

Isn’t it better to explain to them that they’re strong, resilient, adaptable beings capable of changing their experience of pain and living a meaningful, active life? To explain to them that because there are so many things that can contribute to pain, there are lots of entry points into changing the experience of it and that allow for living well in it’s presence? And that when they change some of those factors within their control, the pain can become less prominent in their lives, having less of an impact, thus allowing them to pursue the things that matter to them?

Isn’t that better than giving false hope and setting folks up for failure?

Giving patients credit

I think patients will get this. I think patients just might walk away thinking “the doctor/therapist actually listened to me and took the time to explain to me what pain isn’t and gave me all these resources for me to be able to live with my pain differently that will let me get on with the things I want to do. My pain might be around for a while but it no longer has to limit my life. I now understand that this pain isn’t something I have to fear or worry so much about and I have me permission to get on with life while still holding out hope for one day overcoming pain’.

To me, being given realistic expectations is much more important than being given false hope, which can be so much more harmful to the person living with pain, though it may make the health care provider feel better to provide such hope (not a dig, just my perception). For patient’s whose pain persists, those given realistic expectations have been given the education, tools, and ‘permission’ to deal with it and get on with life while those given false hope just keep seeking that next doctor, that next method, that next fix that will ‘cure’ their pain and, in the meantime, they put life on hold.

Getting real

Being truthful and realistic is not painting a dismal picture – it can actually give patients hope and reassurance. They are not failures. They are not to blame, just as the treatment providers are not to blame. Once I accepted that the pain might not go away, I was able to start living again. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope of it being gone someday, I’m just not waiting for that day to come any more to get on with it.

It’s not an easy conversation to have. It’s not a short one or a singular one, either, but it’s a necessary one if the patient has any chance of living their life.

We need to stop pussy-footing around difficult conversations about taking personal responsibility and being active participants in our health and our lives. The more we continue to foster the notion that we have to go to the doctor to fix all that ails us, the sicker we’ll all remain. We need to be empowered to manage our own health, our own lives. We’re the only ones living in our bodies/minds 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Do people want to hear it? Not always. Does that matter? I don’t think it can, we have to talk about it.

I’m not saying to be crass or harsh, but we need to be honest and face these truths together so we can start coming up with some better solutions, our current models aren’t working. Well never get past the passive medicalization of pain patients if we don’t start approaching this differently. And people with pain need to be a part of these conversations, not just those who treat them. And not just in the clinic or while they’re seeking treatment, either, but at professional conferences and workshops and meetings. Patient voices need to be heard and regarded.

We need to do this together, all of us.

If we are to be successful in changing pain, we need to stop thinking patients can’t get this stuff, that they won’t understand or won’t do it. When  practitioners go in with that mindset, that belief, that expectation, influences the results. It perpetuates the prophesy. There are patients out there who want to play a role in driving how pain is treated, I am one of them. I know there are plenty more, but our voices continue to go unheard, even by those with the best of intentions.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it needs to start. What’s our other option? Continuing this same course?

Thanks for reading my post, folks! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. This post is important to me, I think these conversations need to be had so we can figure out how to move forward. And patients need to be a part of the conversations.

To end with, this is what happened when I stopped waiting for the pain to go away to live my life. That’s success :)

This is success when it comes to living with chronic pain

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12 Responses to "What’s the definition of success when treating chronic pain?"

  1. Thanks for your perspective this is very helpful for me as a PT attempting to help people with chronic pain..This conversation is very difficult and made more difficult sometimes by other practitioners continuing to tell people that there is some cure if either the right practitioner figures it out or the patient just works harder.

    When I speak this way to patients sometimes I do get a great response, but often they seem to understand on a surface level and if they can get anyone to tell them my perspective isn’t right they go with the it will be fixed option. I understand this, as everyone wants to get rid of pain of course. And I understand this may be a process not a one time conversation. I feel patients will understand if we talk about it, but that they continue to get mixed messages.

    As a PT I have been working on talking to other practitioners to form more of a unified approach, but it has been slow going. Every time I talk to a doctor they say they understand how pain works, but it doesn’t seem to show up in how they practice.From your perspective what did you hear from medical practitioners that helped or hindered your experience?

    Also, I love your photos..I practice in Colorado…so if you are in my neck of the woods I would love to talk.

    Keith

    • Keith,

      Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Where are you in Colorado? We spend part of our year out there, I’d love to meet up and chat about all of this stuff some day.

      I think that this is a very difficult conversation to have because it’s not what patients want to hear. It’s incredibly frustrating to me that there are so many mixed messages out there because folks will always pick the message and the messenger that is fastest, easiest, most palatable. Until they run out of them, at least, then some of them become ready to hear this message, this message of hope but not of quick fixes.

      I think we have a long way to go before there is a real, palpable, applicable understanding of pain science throughout the medical and health care systems. We’re entrenched in a medicalized system that searches for something to perform surgery on or medicate, we’re not so equipped to deal with all this messy human stuff. But at least the conversations are starting, and not just in chronic pain but in all chronic disease management. Patients taking personal responsibility and active roles in their health is vital for them to be successful, no matter their condition.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir! I would say that my surgeon helped me a great deal with my pain experience, even though he didn’t have the answers for me. I did have surgery on my hip and that surgery did resolve the most debilitating aspects of my pain, so I’m by no means against such measures. But after my surgery I still had a great deal of pain, even though a great deal of my function was restored. I was worried and frightened and under the weight of the worker’s compensation system and potentially (and eventually) losing my career while also trying to figure this pain thing out. While work comp was essentially doubting me (or making me feel as though they were doubting me) at every turn, my surgeon never one doubted my pain.

      He always provided an empathetic ear, he always sat down and looked me in the eye and answered every last one of my questions on every visit. I never once felt rushed or disbelieved or like he was going to try and talk over me or redirect what I was saying. In short, he was amazing. He provided me calming and reassurance and support, even taking me on as a management patient even though he’s a surgeon and doesn’t normally do that (but he was worried about who WC would send me to). He also explained to me that my pain was not something he could help me with anymore, he was honest with me that it was no longer a tissue issue and he encouraged me to seek other forms of treatment. A lot of that got messed up in the WC way of doing things but I did find providers, that I ended up paying out of pocket for, that helped a great deal. But the key was that he never gave up on me, even years into my pain, he never doubted me, and he never gave up hope that we’d figure it out.

      The non-medical treatment that gave me the most success, that I paid out of pocket for and isn’t in any traditional health schemes, was the Egoscue Method. Although I disagree with the way they say their method works, their method did indeed work for me because it helps you to feel safe moving and no movement is off limits – their motto is a life without limitations. They taught me that no movement is dangerous if we set our bodies up for success, they helped me get over my fear of movement by easing me into safe, ground-based exercises and eventually progressing me to kneeling and standing work. I felt safe moving again. I felt like I could move again.

      But one downside was that I was still quite passive while I was going there. I wanted to be told what to do because I didn’t understand why it was working. Their notion of restoring posture didn’t resonate with my personal experience because my posture was still all jacked and asymmetrical, even thought my pain was better. It wasn’t until I started doing pain science research in my Master’s program that I started to understand what was happening. Then my progress really took off, then I progressed to jumping over logs, balancing on beams, and jumping – something I was TERRIFIED of doing because I’d envision my femur exploding through the thigh. And I snowboarded for the first time since my injury. But it was because I was learning through my research that hurt didn’t equal harm, that I wasn’t damaging myself with movement when it was painful. That was hugely powerful for me because all along I though the pain meant I was doing something wrong – sitting wrong, moving wrong, sleeping wrong; that my posture was wrong, that I was doing pain wrong. It wasn’t until I realized you can have pain without tissue damage that I started to get why Egoscue was working, that even though the tissues heal, the brain remembers, that pain is an alarm system that can go off even when there is no threat or the threat is removed and that we can retrain our brain and our nervous system to realize there is no threat with these movements so it can ratchet down the alarm.

      Once I understood that I felt like I could get on with living without the constant worry and anxiety. But it took me putting all those pieces together, you know what I mean? I wish I had it all in one place or all at one time, at least. I feel like if I had the pain science education stuff (Explain Pain did me wonders) early on, I may not have gone down the chronic pain path at all.

      But I credit my surgeon who always believed in me and listened to me and always included me in every conversation about my hip, he made me feel like I was just as an important part of this equation as he was, even when he consulted with a visiting fellow from England he let me listen to the whole conversation about my hip and what they thought was going on and my Egoscue therapist who also always listened, who rarely asked questions about my pain and asked me more questions about my life and what I wanted to do so we could figure out how to get there, with getting me to where I am, with a bump from my own research in a Master’s program. I wish my surgeon or my movement therapist had been more up on pain science, though, and that someone had introduced me to the biopsychosocial nature of pain in a more explicit way. That’s part of what we need to change!

      Hinderences were the f’n work comp and health care systems in general. The constant waiting for appointments, waiting for reports to be written, waiting for reviews of those reports, waiting for recommended treatment. If I had a flare-up I couldn’t just go to PT, I had to go see the surgeon first (could take weeks) and get a referral. Even if he would just tell them over the phone or via fax all I need is PT. It was incredibly frustrating. I was once told by my work comp adjuster that if I was in that much pain (during a flare) I should go to the ER. As a former firefighter/paramedic, I was furious. As a human I was furious. My work place, too, was always suspicion first, belief later. It was corrosive and made my situation so much worse. That disbelief, that lack of support, that callousness to a person in so much pain was just inhumane, in my opinion. And it happens a lot. People who are off on worker’s comp, or off work and using their own healthcare coverage, are under immense stress on top of the pain. Relationship stress, financial stress, worry about their future, etc. And no one helps them with that kind of stuff. So having a healthcare provider be empathetic, just listen for a bit about all this other stuff is helpful because for a whole lot of folks it’s this other stuff that is making their pain go through the roof. You don’t need to be a psychologist to be human and listen and to say ‘that sounds like it’s very stressful and I imagine it’s very difficult to deal with, do you think it’s affecting your pain?’ to give them some awareness that all this stuff is connected. That could do wonders right there!

      Another hinderance is always being diagnosed with a tissue problem that somebody can fix. I’m imbalanced or asymmetrical or dysfunctional or whatever. As a personal trainer for a time, I was guilty of this, I’ve told people these same things. But when my pain settled in, these ‘diagnoses’ always made me feel I was to blame and I’d go into a cycle of hyper-vigilance that just made my movement less natural and my pain way worse. So I’d say people pathologizing movement and posture was harmful for me. Focusing on moving well and in lots of different ways did me wonders.

      I don’t know if this was helpful at all, I’m not even sure I answered your question!

      I would like to continue the dialog, if you’re willing (as you can see, I’m very rarely at a loss for words). Either through this forum or email or social media. I’m on Facebook and Twitter and my email is Joletta.Belton@mycuppajo.com.

      Thank you again for taking the time to reply and for your interest in having these conversations. Your patients are lucky, even if they don’t realize it!

  2. Joletta, here is some good news. Our Australian Faculty of Pain Medicine has almost completed a comprehensive review of its curriculum for trainees in Pain Medicine. I think we are leading other countries in this endeavour. Implementation of the curriculum will go a long way to addressing some of the important issues that you have highlighted in existing health services for people in pain. http://www.fpm.anzca.edu.au/training/2015-training-program/FPM_2015_Curriculum.pdf

    Looking ahead, I hope to see an increasing understanding of biological stress response systems in general and, in particular, the genetic switches that regulate them in response to the many adverse environmental factors that we can encounter in our life’s trajectory. Such knowledge could open the door to better treatment of those with persistent pain in whom there is no evidence of an ongoing disease process.

    • John,

      As always I am so appreciative of input! Thank you for your comment and for sharing with me and my readers the work that the Australian Faculty of Pain Medicine are doing. This curriculum is amazing, I do believe that you are correct in thinking that you are leading the way in this endeavor. I really like how the biopsychosocial framework has been reconceptualized as a ‘sociopsychobiomedical paradigm’. I was just having a Twitter discussion with a physio in the States about the importance of social connection, cultural influences, and the environmental constraints of the person living with pain and how these factors are often overlooked or dismissed (at least here, in our traditional biomedical model) when considering the contributing factors to pain, or to general health for that matter. I’m hoping that there will continue to be an expanding view of pain by practitioners, not just those who study pain science but all health care providers who work with people in pain (and I’d have to argue that most do), from one of pain being strictly biological and found in the tissues, which I think we’ve moved away from in many quarters, to one that includes the psychological contributors to pain and pain management, which I think many folks are hip to now, to one that includes sociological and environmental impacts as well, which I don’t think we’ve quite touched the surface of yet.

      The curriculum that you shared with me is outstanding and comprehensive. I hope that similar curricula will be developed (borrowed?) and implemented in medical and physio schools and pain science courses throughout the world.

      I also look forward to seeing what is to come and what more there is to learn. Epigenetics is such an interesting and fastly growing field, I hope it sheds light on the actions we can take, as individuals and as a society, to reduce the levels of persistent pain we are currently seeing as well as reduce the likelihood of persistent pain setting in for folks who undergo physical or psychological injury. I think there is much we can do in terms of our built environments and social support networks to really make an inroads into changing pain at the local, regional, and global levels. And it will take conversations between many folks, including pain science experts, clinicians, researchers, patients, psychologists, sociologists, insurers, educators, employers, community leaders, non-profit groups, local businesses, government officials, civil engineers, and a whole host of other people I’m failing to name right now.

      So much to do :) I’m still figuring out how to do my part!

      On that note, I want to thank you for the invaluable role you have played in changing pain. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and admire the good work you’ve done and that you continue to do for folks with persistent pain and the folks who treat them.

      Thank you!

  3. Hello Jo, i just discovered your blog, while doing some research for my next yoga class for pain management. You’re really inspiring.
    I was wondering if i could read out loud to my students this article of changing pain to success? (i’ll translate it in french since i live in Paris, France), and i’ll give your website to my students.
    Bon courage!

    NG

    • Nathalie,

      I am so happy that you’ve come across my blog and that you find it inspiring! That just made my day. I would be honored if you read it aloud to your students and shared the website with them. I’m pretty sure this will be my first translation into French, that’s pretty exciting.

      And please feel free to share anything from my site that you find will be of value to your students, or anybody for that matter, no need to ask. That’s why I write; I hope my words resonate with people and can perhaps help some folks with their own pain (and life) issues.

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for reaching out to me. I hope your yoga students enjoy the post. I’d love to hear how it goes!

      Cheers,

      Jo

    • Nathalie-

      I am a PT in Colorado…we are working with Yoga instructors to do a yoga for pain class..would love to share ideas if you are interested.

    • Nathalie, hello! I wanted to follow up with you to see if you translated any of my posts into French for your students and how it went. I also have a French physio who was looking to maybe see some translations if they already existed.

      I hope you are doing well! Thank you again for your kind words and encouragement.

      Jo

  4. Thank you so much for this blog post, your story resonates so much with my own and you’ve managed to put in words exactly how I have felt.

    I’m dealing with chronic pain after a MVA last May and it took me a long time to realise that I am in control and with the help of a very supportive rehab team I have got my life back. I still have pain every day and bad spikes and flare ups but I have been given the tools to deal with them.

    I have worked extremely hard to be in this position and as much as I would like the pain to be gone I can still see the success in all I have achieved to be a person that LIVES with chronic pain.

    :)

    • Hannah, what a wonderful thing to read today!, thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me. It is a hard reality to face at times but it is just that, too, it’s reality. It’s wonderful when we can learn to LIVE with the pain rather than suffer because of it. And the more we LIVE, the better the pain will get, I think. It’s been my experience thus far, anyway. It seems like the more I engage in life and focus on the things that matter to me, the things I love, the things I enjoy, the less prominence the pain plays in my life. If I were to shift focus and think about just the pain, I’m sure it would rise in prominence again and all those other things would fade.

      I still have flare-ups that can drop me and dishearten me but now I’m aware of it, I’m aware of those negative thoughts and feelings and I can take some steps to mitigate them. Before, flare-ups would send me into a bit of a spiral and I’d feel like I ruined all my progress and the pain would get worse and persist. Now I know that a flare-up will make me a bit frustrated and sad and that that is ok, that it doesn’t mean my progress has reversed or that it’s a setback, it’s just a bump along the path and that it’s a part of forward progress, even if it doesn’t feel like it!

      It’s hard work. Sometimes it’s exhausting and it’s ok to give ourselves a break. We don’t always have to be strong and positive, sometimes we can be sad and frustrated and that’s not a bad thing. It’s about making space for it all.

      It’s always wonderful to ‘meet’ a kindred soul that understands what I mean. Thank you for taking the time to share this with me, it means more to me than you realize!

      • I think everyone who is suffering should read this blog post, I know now that pain and suffering are two separate things and you can have one without the other. Your blog post is inspiring and its so refreshing to read a story that I think will help other people who are looking for that inspiration and motivation to continue living their lives regardless of the pain. I am glad there are people like you are changing the way patients and practitioners view and deal with pain.

        I honestly think knowledge is power but it has to be the right information that patients are receiving. I know that when I was given the Explain Pain book to read by my Kinesilogist it helped change the way I thought about my own pain and there were some sessions we had where we wouldn’t even do exercises we would just talk about things and address the other factors that play a part in the pain experience like my anxiety which I have always denied being a problem but after having it pointed out and having that trust I was able to address that my anxiety levels do play a major part in my pain levels. I honestly have been so lucky to have had all the support that I got after my accident and I have now read so much research on pain and watched many a webinar from the likes of Lorrimer and David Butler.

        Last year I didn’t think I would be able to go back to work but I did and gradually built up my hours. I didn’t want to look into the future because the pain just consumed me but now I’m actively planning my future and it feels good :)

        • Wow – what a compliment! Thank you, Hannah. That is awesome.

          I agree with you that knowledge is power and the the information being delivered needs to be the right information and presented in a way that makes sense to the person receiving it. If something doesn’t seem to apply to our lives, to our story, it won’t stick, so we need to make sure the information we’re providing is meaningful. It’s not easy and there’s no universal solution or way forward. But we are making progress, I think! Patients like us are getting this information and it’s making a difference.

          I can relate to your anxiety statements, too. I am a worrier and anxious by nature, though it became much worse after my injury and surgery. I still think my anxiety levels are higher now than they were before and that my introverted nature has become a bit stronger. I feel more taxed by being in social situations than I used to, though I know some of that has to do with pain and my limited capacity for piling stuff on!

          That is so wonderful that you’ve come so far and that you are now back to work and LIVING your life. It may always take a bit more planning and having strategies in place for flare-ups, but I think that’s true of all of us to some extent. We all have limitations, whether we have pain or not, that require a bit of planning and monitoring to make sure we’re not exceeding our capacity.

          I’m so happy you came across the blog! It’s so great to ‘meet’ you.

          I know you’re path forward will continue to be a positive one and that it will be full of LIFE and pursuing what matters. Onward and upward!

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