Let’s talk about living with chronic pain for a minute.
But first, why should you listen to the girl you see doing yoga on a beach, hiking, and going on adventures?
Because I am a fellow chronic pain warrior.
I do not spend all of my days on this splendid island, doing all the things that all the pain-free individuals are doing. I have my days. I slip back onto the island of the pain monster and just want to crawl under a rock.
But I’ve found ways to manage it.
Let me tell you a story:
Recently, I lightly bumped my elbow on the wall. I mean, it was so light it didn’t even make a noise.
This may not be a big deal to those of you without shoulder injuries, but to me, it’s like life or death. For a moment it took over my world, my thoughts, and my entire being.
I’m walking down the hall and out of nowhere, the f’ing wall decides to jump out and bump my shoulder. Total jerk move from the wall!
Then, all of a sudden, I get this feeling like someone has poured a bucket of hot coals on my shoulder, then shoved a sword through the socket!
Needless to say, it took my breath away. So much so, that I can’t even let out my favorite curse words. It’s that painful.Now I’m lying on the floor, not breathing, the shoulder being stabbed and set on fire, tears rolling down my face, wondering why the dumb wall has to be there.
I hear what sounds like an elephant rushing down the hall (let’s face it, when pain is amped up, so is your sensitively to sound). In walks my husband, asking if he can help. I take a big enough breath to say “don’t touch me” and he backs away.
Now I’ve managed to injure myself and hurt my husband’s feeling at the same time. I guess the wall and I now have something in common. We’re both jerks.
I lie there on the floor for what seems forever, drowning in my tears, wishing I could just be knocked out. Finally, I roll onto my good side and pick myself up. I put my arm in my jacket pocket (thank goodness it was there) and dial the doctor’s office, sure that I’ve messed something up.
They immediately get me in for an urgent visit.
I show up, smiling at the lady on the front desk and managing to make small talk.
The nurse that takes me through to the back? I get her to laugh at some dumb joke I suddenly remember. These actions made my pain almost bearable for a minute.
Right up until the doctor comes in to give me my allotted seven minutes of her time.
She abruptly moves my already painful shoulder to see if she could feel something moving and to see my range of motion.
At this point I’m drowning in my tears, my humor has left the building, and I’m doing everything in my power to not pass out or throw up because it’s now pushing a 10 on the pain scale.
She asks me a few questions and I muster up some sort of words as a response. Her diagnosis?
It’s all in your head. Here’s a prescription, a referral to PT, and I think it would be good to go talk to someone about your feelings.
OMG! Really? Did she just say it’s in my head and I should go to see psych?
I picked my ego up off the floor, put it in my back pocket, and tried to pull myself above the ever- growing water level of my tears.
How could this be? How is this all in my head? How is this not an acute injury? How could this be possible?
I poured myself into the car, hoping to have a good ugly cry and just get over it. But then I realized I had no more tears to give to this angry shoulder.
It was time to make a decision. Do I wallow in self-pity or do I pick myself up and deal with this dang mystery all in my head pain?
I took the no pity party approach.
Does this story sound familiar?
It’s sad how our healthcare system (conventional medicine) treats people with chronic illness.
I truly believe it’s because they’re not educated on the subject. They’re given such a short time with each patient that they have to follow a standard care appointment system.
This is why if you have a chronic illness, you’re always out there looking for other answers. Because… well… your doctor isn’t going to give them to you.
I’ve been in classes on how to deal with and master your pain.
So, I reached into my chronic pain tool kit and started the healing journey. The stupid wall and my angry shoulder are not going to stop me from living well!
Things to remember about pain and dealing with jerk walls:
- All pain is real. Remember that what you’re feeling is real and most conventional doctors get little to no actual chronic pain training. They do not know how to properly communicate with you.
- Pain is learned and you could have an overactive warning system. The good news is that there are some amazing ways to retrain your warning system to be less sensitive.
- Again, your pain is real. I know what you’re thinking, but my doctor told me it was in my head. They’re F’ing wrong. Although pain comes from a message interpreted by your brain, it’s not in your imagination. Something in your nervous system is off and sending you the wrong message.
- You don’t have to get stuck in that annoying roundabout (you know that one I’m talking about. Every town has one) of negative thinking or distorted thinking patterns. If I learned anything from my pain management classes at Kaiser, IIN, and my own research, it’s that you can get stuck going in circles, living as your pain, or you can make the decision to pack a bag of tools, pick an exit and get the heck away from that damn circle.
I remember the pain that day, all too well. It was, after all, only a few weeks ago.
And…well…I’m still rehabbing from my stupid wall injury.
The last thing I have to say is, I haven’t let my shoulder stop me from living my life. If it wasn’t this pain, it would be another.
The joys of living with chronic pain!
The thing that’s different for me, is that I have all the tools to manage the pain so I can have a thriving life, even when it knocks me down to my knees.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about the Power of Two, because it literally changes how you react to pain (so you can feel less pain now and prevent future pain – no joke!)
But if you haven’t watched the video or downloaded the free PDF, you may still might not know about this powerful tool.
So here’s the deal:
Your body has been tricking you into being weaker than you really are.
Your body has been sending you pain signals waaaaaaay before you needed those signals because it wants to keep you safe.
But what’s really happening, is your body is keeping you SEDENTARY, not safe.
You know what happens when you sit for too long in one position – it’s REALLY hard to stand up and get out of that position.
When your body doesn’t move enough, it gets stiff and then it hurts when you finally try to move.
But if you learn to read the signals your body is sending you and understand them for what they REALLY are, you’ll know which signals to ignore (because they’re part of the early-warning trickery) and which signals to pay attention to because they’re the real deal.
That’s the Power of Two in a nutshell. Learning to recognize the early warning system and knowing where your true limitations exist.