Saturday, July 26, 2014

Managing pain, 24/7

You may have seen some references to the famous Dr. House from time to time in my social network posts.  I do enjoy the TV series like many people around the world but I also have something in common with the main character:  I'm in pain 24/7...

Yeah, you read it right!

After a simple surgery, 6 years ago, I started feeling pain in my left leg.  Actually, the pain is located in the lower part of my belly, on the left.  It is a sharp and persistent pain that irradiate down to my left leg, foot and toes.

I've tried many things, seen many doctors, even got an exploratory surgery to find the source of the pain.  Nothing shows up on X-rays and scans...  It is basically a dead end...

This post is not about me complaining about my situation.  It's about sharing some tips and tricks that I've discovered over time.  How to handle the pain without going crazy...

The first years were tough as my mind was focusing on the pain.  My doctor had prescribed me drugs to be able to manage it but it wasn't working very well.  In fact, it went really bad as the mix of narcotics and anti-depressants got me in a confused state.  The narcotics to lower the intensity of the pain when it was too high, the anti-depressants as an alternative drug that was supposed to help with chronic pain.

After 2 years of pills, I finally met a chiropractician that helped me a lot.  I don't know if it was by pure coincidence or if he had the magic touch, but after the first session, by back made a loud cracking noise as I was reaching for something at home and the pain almost completely disappeared.  I was mesmerized...  Finally, I was free from pain.  Almost as on rainy days, the pain would come back for a few days and disappear again.

The, I took a big decision:  think of the pain as just a signal and ignore it.  No more drugs, no more pills.  Just keep in mind that this is a false alarm and move on with your life.  It took a while for my brain to believe the concept, but it worked.  As I was almost pain-free for a year...  And it came back, 24/7...

Nothing happened in my life, no accidents, no stress, it just came back.  But I had time to focus my mind on ignoring the signal.  When it was too much, I had to walk again with my cane, as I did for the first 2 years.  All along, instead of being sad and angry, I just considered the pain as a part of me, as a shadow.  Instead of cursing it, I would simply ignore it.  Some people have diabetes, others cancer.  I have pain...  

The worst that can happen to someone having chronic pain is to make it the center of his life.  That's the biggest mistake as pain will eventually take all the place in your daily routine.  Here's a few rules that I've discovered and followed:

- if you can't run, just walk
- if you're exhausted, take a break for a day or two
- if you need a cane to walk, get one that looks great
- accept others helping you
- do not be afraid to say to your friends and family that today, you need to rest a bit
- take a bath with Epsom salt.  I don't know why but it works
- learn to relax and lower the stress 
- do not think about what you can't do, think about what you can do
- focus your mind on something instead of the pain... You know, like Candy Crush ;)
- smile, even when it hurts
- ask others to not talk about your pain each time they see you.  There is something else to talk about...
- pain is just a signal, nothing else...  Just ignore it!
- just laugh about it.  My favourite joke is:  Hey, I'm handicapped only when it serves me

Just so you know, Dr. House's personal story is not that fictional.  Believe me, it can go as bad as we've seen on the TV series.  But the good thing is that it is possible to live a normal life if you put your mind to it.  

Pain can make your life miserable if you focus on it.  Put it aside...
LIVE your life, not your pain!

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