February 17, 2009
I had a brief conversation with a local physical therapist, Kelly, tonight after yoga. She complemented me on how well I was doing in class. I never feel that I am, but the yoga instructor, Rebekah, also a physical therapist, does an outstanding job of showing me how to modify positions.
I said that I felt something like yoga exercises should be a mandatory part of the healing process after prolonged chronic pain and surgery. She agreed, and said that anyone who has lived in a painful body has learned things they cannot do. And they need to be shown that they CAN do more things, but need to learn or understand that.
To me this drives home the point that surgery and physical therapy are only a portion of the healing tools necessary for successful chronic pain recovery. And that activities like yoga, which I never imagined myself being able to do, are capable of being adapted for special circumstances and serve to reintegrate our mind and body for improved health and lifestyle.
I would love to hear comments about your experiences or thoughts on this.
February 10, 2009
Here is a great Time article about the range of therapies that are employed in dealing with managing and recovering from chronic pain at the Pediatric Pain Program at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital.
February 9, 2009
It has taken me many years to understand my chronic pain experience of over 30 years. 18 years ago hip replacement surgery cured my pain, but I was still a chronic pain victim. I have had to take many steps to reintegrate my mind and body. To accept limbs that no longer hurt, but that had been mentally castrated in my mind.
Here is an article on Health.com quoting Dr. Sean Mackey defining chronic pain as a disease which aids in understanding that it has profound effects that last beyond the initial pain experience.
Chronic Pain is a Disease that needs special treatment
I remember as a small child riding in the family station wagon on a trip down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to grandma’s. My right leg hurt so much and so constantly that I recalled a scene from Mary Poppins. Bert is in a bakery and wanting to buy some ladyfingers. He plays a trick on the kids and makes it look like he is popping off his own fingers to give to the kids as a treat.
I thought, great, how about if I imagine that the car door opens as we are driving, my leg falls out, and it POPS off. It was such a soothing thought, and I know must have increased my ability to deal with my pain.
As I think of these thoughts that I had when I was about 6, it seems so brutal. I knew that it helped me deal with overcoming the pain, and that was a blessing. But how unfortunate to have had such gruesome thoughts and not be able to express to anyone what I was thinking.
This is what drives me today to want to connect with those that are enduring, or have endured, the silent agony that chronic pain can bring. And to be able to discuss what it fells or felt like being on the inside of the experience.
I welcome your comments.
February 5, 2009
Things are not always logical. You would think that if you were in a painful situation you would be grateful to be removed from it. But I know that when my chronic pain was first removed I felt like I had lost a best friend. How does that make sense?
It was nothing I could rationally understand, it was just how I felt. My daily conversations with my “pain” led me to believe that it really had an identity. A teacher friend once told me about an African culture who named their pain. I may not have given mine a name, but it sure existed as a life force.
There must have been a survival mechanism that kicked in that made me personalize it. Through the years it has been easier for me to see how BIG my pain was, and that it demanded a large presence in my body. So it would make sense that after surgery, since it did not have a specific form, it remained. I had just lost a means for being in touch with it. But I knew that I still operated as if it controlled my movements. When someone would suggest going for a long walk, my first response was NO. I had not been allowed to do that because of my pain, and I still thought that if I were to do it, somehow, somewhere, the pain would find me.
I recall a story one of my High School teachers once told about a grasshopper in a jar. The grasshopper had been caught and trapped in a glass jar. He spent the whole first day jumping and hitting his head on the closed lid. He came to understand that he was not able to get out of the jar, and stopped jumping. That describes my attitude after surgery. It had been so painful to do certain things for so long, that I gave up doing them. Then when you are told that you can do them again, you are untrusting. You do not believe that you can do them.
Having gone through an extended experience with chronic pain, my system emotionally, physically and mentally contained debris that needed to be addressed and eliminated to complete my healing.
I have come to understand that journaling about my experience in an attempt to understand the depth of it, has validated my feelings and allowed me to search out healthy options for clearing away the debris.
February 4, 2009
I decided to do a blog to try and connect with folks who have endured a long term chronic pain experience, were cured with surgery, but who felt that they were not truly healed. Surgery and physical therapy address the obvious aspects of mending a physical situation, but do not focus on the residual damage that occurred internally during the chronic pain experience.
Let me tell you a bit about my story…..
I was born with hip dysplasia that was not diagnosed until I began walking. At that point doctors cast my hips to place them back in their sockets. As a child I just always had a lot of pain in my legs. The pain progressed through the years and when I was 40 I had both hips replaced, a year apart. By that time I could hardly face a flight of stairs and my family and quality of life was suffering.
After surgery, it felt like a I had been granted a new life. One that was painfree. Yet, there was something almost paralyzing about that. It was such a gift to be able to move without pain, but I found myself asking my surgeon did he know of any support groups for people who had been in chronic pain and were now relieved. He had the strangest look in his eyes. I knew he had no concept of what I was talking about. But I knew there were more parts of me that needed healing.
How was I now to accept the fact that the pain was gone? It had been a presence for so long that I almost thought of it as another person inside of myself. We negotiated daily on what I could or could not do, and what kind of pain price was I going to have to pay for doing a particular thing, like walking to the park with my young daughter.
It has been over 18 years since my original surgery and I have not stopped attempting to RE-integrate my body and mind. I have found several things that have worked and have spent much time writing about the experience.
I welcome any exchange of ideas with those who had undergone such an experience, or who understand that there really is a MISSING PIECE that needs to be considered along with surgery and physical therapy.