Posts Tagged ‘chronic pain’

Does your Pain define you?

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A triple rollover on south 5 downtown San Diego landed me in a chronic pain group.

Mostly spinal injuries from accidents, I was shocked , these were my peers.

My chronic pain therapist, a PhD pain psychologist told me, it is like you entered a third world country.

Doctors, surgeries, physical therapy, therapists, work comp and pain become your waking companions.

No one understands your limitations, unless you have a cane or walker, pain is invisible.

Living with a serious chronic pain person is not easy.

14 of the 15 mates in that chronic pain group left their spouses, divorced.

You end up by yourself, hurting, alone, confused with severe depression.

15 out of 15 said, I just want to be like I was before the accident. That thought will bring you suffering forever, we were never going to be like we were.

Chronic pain takes much more of a toll than others realize.

Took me a few years to compress my chronic pain and get some of my life back.

Now I hike five days a week, 4 miles uphill 60 stories briskly.

It takes time and effort to learn how to adjust and adapt.

Conclusion: No one could see my pain, my suffering.

If I needed others to understand or give me sympathy, suffering would never leave me.

I learned to keep my pain limitations to myself.

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“Living with your heart wide open”: Self Authorship

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“Author and organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley describes this dynamic well: “We notice what we notice because of who we are.

We create ourselves by what we choose to notice. Once this work of self-authorship has begun, we inhabit the world we have created.

We self-seal.

We don’t notice anything except those things that confirm what we already think about who we already are…

When we succeed in moving outside of our normal processes of self-reference and can look upon ourselves with self-awareness, then we have a chance at changing.

We break the seal. We notice something new”.

This is a powerful insight into not only how the concept of self is perpetuated by habits of mind and perception, but also how you can free yourself and discover a much larger experience of who you are.

Perhaps none of us discovers who we really are until we free ourselves from concepts of who we are and are not.

Therefore we begin this book by exploring how the fiction of self is created and maintained.

The sense of self is formed in early childhood and gradually hardens into self-concepts and beliefs, creating a personal identity that can define and restrict you for the rest of your life.”

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It takes a while for us to understand PTSD is the enemy and there is an all out war to be waged.

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This is my mindset, I see some things in black and white, different than others. Not right or wrong just different.

Chronic pain and especially childhood PTSD were my enemy.

In my chronic pain group of 15, I was the only one who did not fear his pain. My dad had beat me daily for a whole childhood, pain was a constant companion.

Chronic pain was different from the acute pain he so regularly delivered. Being familiar with pain lessens it’s sting.

With PTSD the fear is reinforced with cortisol and adrenaline, giving the trauma memory real time power, so it seems.

Trauma is stored in a life threatening environment with parts of our mind shut down. The memory is never clear and our triggers manifest in the strangest ways.

PTSD stole my life, naturally I knew this mental disorder was my enemy.

As with sports, I learned everything about him. What powered him, symptoms, what lessens his power and I searched for his weakness.

That is how an athlete competes, I used my strengths, brought chronic pain out to battle. Hiking was the battlefield I chose to attack my chronic pain on.

With PTSD it was the firing of my fight or flight mechanism, that became the battlefield.

Exploring my triggers everyday, I found its weakness.

When our fight or flight mechanism fires, PTSD is at its apex of power.

Ironically PTSD was at its most vulnerable.

This was the battle field I chose.

Withstanding my adrenal stress mechanism firing, staying present, drained PTSD of its power.

Understand depression, chronic pain or PTSD is the enemy, meeting on the battlefield of your choice is how we improve.

Healing is not pleasant or anxiety free.

My healing was emotionally violent inside as evil left my organism.

This is ugly business but it is the path out of suffering.

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Anything that fluctuates can be influenced

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Both Chronic pain and PTSD entered my life with me being clueless about their power, intensity and mechanism.

It took me 6 months with each to understand the challenge and form a plan to cope.

One of the first patterns I witnessed was how PTSD and chronic pain fluctuated during the day and night.

So my pain or PTSD did not have a constant intensity or duration.

PTSD rotated from calm to extremely triggered in seconds. Some times were calm and easier, others pure terror.

Chronic pain has an ebb and flow, intense times along with easier times.

My relationship with chronic pain was different than the other 14 in our chronic pain group. I took action, lost the fear of my pain and improved.

They lived a sedentary life filled with 30 pills a day, they suffered.

I hiked uphill causing my pain to spike, then the music was cranked, my goal was to never let pain stop my legs from moving.

Hiking another 15 minutes with my pain as a companion, in a month my chronic pain started to compress. I did not fear my pain after that month.

PTSD was a roller coaster ride of terror, followed by mental anguish and then worry about future anxiety.

The only breaks happened during times getting lost in a chore, nature or a hobby.

I found meditation provided the focus and platform to observe my fears without being part of them.

It takes time, courage and willpower.

My recent eruption of a buried trauma has challenged my skills.

I forgot how intense a serious trauma can be.

Taking action, even the slightest action moves us out of victimhood.

Better to resist, to take action.

Being sedentary powers chronic pain and PTSD.

Thoughts proliferate in a sedentary environment of Pain or Trauma.

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Purpose

Sam Rowley’s “Station Squabble” has been picked from more than 48,000 images to claim a wildlife photography award from London’s Natural History Museum, voted for by the public.

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My purpose for starting this blog was to fill in the areas that were missing in my healing journey.

 

There were many things that I learned from research and daily action that therapists never mentioned.

 

Hell, no therapist challenged me or gave me homework. I brought the books and questions to them.

 

From my exhaustive research and actions to heal, important things were kept while things that did not work were jettisoned.

 

From all this, a healing model emerged with a breathing track as focus.

 

There were no phrases like post traumatic growth or books like “Buddhas Brain” detailing the new discoveries of neuroscience. Meditations impact on healing trauma, created two new therapies, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Dialectic Behavioral Therapy.

 

I had developed skills while surviving childhood abuse, determined willpower, ability to endure pain and isolation that other kids had little exposure to.

 

PTSD is confusing and healing feels like triggers erupting at times. A mentor can point the correct direction, triggers are opportunities to heal.

 

Never heard a therapist say that, but it is the easiest path to healing. Stay present, focused on the breath while your fight or flight erupts allows healing to begin.

 

I had found a way out of a deep, terrifying hole of complex PTSD. I suffered with my fight or flight exploding 15 times a day, hiding in my dark garage.

 

PTSD was horrible and death would have been the easy way out.

 

A big lesson, we never give in, never give up, we die in the end anyway. I had determined not to die a victim but a person trying to get better.

 

Results were out of my control, but my effort each day would be total.

 

That gave my life purpose when nothing else helped.

 

After healing, improving or whatever word you choose, I had enormous amounts of time available. My dissociating had curtailed, my Worry had faded and an almost euphoric feeling from not suffering, not being terrified brought a smile.

 

Well that has faded and life is still a challenged.

 

One of my most valuable possessions, supporting others, sharing their healing journey, is priceless to me, permanent.

 

This blog was built to support those trying to improve, taking daily action, then needing their questions answered.

 

What is your Purpose?

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Our doors are open

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It takes strong focus skills to withstand a trigger firing. Our defense mechanism has detected a life threatening situation, reason stops working when this fight or flight fires.

The mind speeds up, time is distorted, perception clouds, panic spreads.

Irrational or PTSD fear makes no difference to a body trying to survive a perceived lethal threat. Cortisol and adrenaline are dumped, respiration, BP and heart rate spike.

Loss of fine motor skills and tunnel vision add to our time distortion and confusing state.

We try to escape at all costs. It is an internal hurricane blowing 200 mph scary thoughts at us.

Sitting quietly, grounded, surrendering to these fears is our ultimate goal.

This is the door to wellbeing, a healing portal of transformation.

We heal by not running, not avoiding, not thinking but accepting, then surrendering to our thoughts (trauma).

This seems an enormous, complex undertaking.

Start with mastering one breath.

Build focus, practice daily, progress to five breaths, then ten, etc.

This simple, specific, concrete, immediate task holds gargantuan, humongous, colossal power.

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Does your life with Chronic Pain feel like this?

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My chronic pain was like the wind, invisible, powerful and relentless at times.

How was I going to battle such a ghost. I named my pain Mr P. after the old Happy Days show, Mr. C.

Mr. P. Was my nemesis when I hiked. Mr. P. wanted to stop my legs from moving, from confronting my fear, from taking control of my mind back.

My mindset was centered around my greatest strength, my willpower, determination. Always incorporate your strengths as part of your solutions.

My mindset as usual, a jock accepts the challenge before him/her. No way was Pain going stop my legs from moving!

My exercise routine became an emotional battle between pain and my will.

In a way it was exhilarating. I convinced myself not many humans could hike in such pain day after day.

We jocks always imagined being at bat with the bases loaded, two outs bottom of ninth, game seven of World Series. This was my chronic pain version.

Visualization is powerful. I would imagine myself in “The Last of the Mohicans” running with Hawkeye, running for our life.

Music gave me a beat that I could synchronize my legs with. My legs would move to a beat when they were exhausted, ready to quit.

Chronic pain became a friend. Adversity makes us stronger.

Chronic pain strengthened my meditation practice. I truly learned how to focus and dissipate my pain level.

Pain constricted, became much more bearable, then faded as months passed. Aerobic exercise and meditation were my tools.

I would set in the middle of my pain with my breath, no judgments just observing.

My breath could dissipate my pain. My familiarity allowed me to sit calmly inside my pain. My pain received no energy from fear, attention or thought.

After a few years I had compartmentalzed my chronic pain.

Acute pain is a different animal.

Pain eats energy but does not touch my soul, or my enthusiasm for life.

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Doctors eye deep brain stimulation to treat opioid addiction

 


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Associated Press:

Patient Number One is a thin man, with a scabby face and bouncy knees. His head, shaved in preparation for surgery, is wrapped in a clean, white cloth.

 

Years of drug use cost him his wife, his money and his self-respect, before landing him in this drab yellow room at a Shanghai hospital, facing the surgeon who in 72 hours will drill two small holes in his skull and feed electrodes deep into his brain.

 

The hope is that technology will extinguish his addiction, quite literally, with the flip of a switch.

 

The treatment — deep brain stimulation — has long been used for movement disorders like Parkinson’s. Now, the first clinical trial of DBS for methamphetamine addiction is being conducted at Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital, along with parallel trials for opioid addiction. And this troubled man is the very first patient.

 


The surgery involves implanting a device that acts as a kind of pacemaker for the brain, electrically stimulating targeted areas. While Western attempts to push forward with human trials of DBS for addiction have foundered, China is emerging as a hub for this research.

 

Scientists in Europe have struggled to recruit patients for their DBS addiction studies, and complex ethical, social and scientific questions have made it hard to push forward with this kind of work in the United States, where the devices can cost $100,000 to implant.

 

China has a long, if troubled, history of brain surgery for drug addiction. Even today, China’s punitive anti-drug laws can force people into years of compulsory treatment, including “rehabilitation” through labor. It has a large patient population, government funding and ambitious medical device companies ready to pay for DBS research.

 

There are eight registered DBS clinical trials for drug addiction being conducted in the world, according to a U.S. National Institutes of Health database. Six are in China.

 

But the suffering wrought by the opioid epidemic may be changing the risk-reward calculus for doctors and regulators in the United States. Now, the experimental surgery Patient Number One is about to undergo is coming to America. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greenlighted a clinical trial in West Virginia of DBS for opioid addiction.

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HUMAN EXPERIMENTS

 

Patient Number One insisted that only his surname, Yan, be published; he fears losing his job if he is identified.

 

He said doctors told him the surgery wasn’t risky. “But I still get nervous,” he said. “It’s my first time to go on the operating table.”

 

Three of Yan’s friends introduced him to meth in a hotel room shortly after the birth of his son in 2011. They told him: Just do it once, you’ve had your kid, you won’t have problems.

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THE PAIN PARADOX from “Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness”.


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There is one more idea in Buddhism and MBSR that shapes our orientation to mindfulness: the notion that our avoidance of suffering can exacerbate it.

 

Mindfulness experts John Briere and Catherine Scott referred to this as the pain paradox—the observation that our natural tendency to escape, deny, or withdraw from pain only intensifies and prolongs the distress.
What we resist, the saying goes, persists.

 

This paradox was key to Kabat-Zinn’s introduction of MBSR to the medical community.

 

When he originally approached doctors with the idea of having patients meditate, Kabat-Zinn was advocating for a fundamentally different approach to suffering—one that lay at the heart of the Buddhist tradition he’d trained in.


“From the perspective of mindfulness,” he wrote, “nothing needs fixing.


Nothing needs to be forced to stop, or change, or go away.”

 

Perhaps not surprisingly, this idea raised eyebrows.

 

Western medicine was built largely on helping alleviate people’s pain, offering interventions such as medication or surgery.

 

Mindfulness ran completely counter to this paradigm. How could paying closer attention to one’s pain alleviate it?


Yet doctors were also open to the idea. Each of them had patients they couldn’t cure and who were resistant to conventional treatment approaches. Doctors and their patients had little to lose.

 

The first MBSR studies thus began with those who were suffering from chronic pain.

 

Kabat-Zinn wanted to see whether they could mobilize their own internal responses to the suffering they were experiencing. “We invited them, paradoxically,” he said, “to put the welcome mat out for whatever sensations they were experiencing, just to see if they could attend to them moment by moment and ‘befriend’ the actuality of their experience, even briefly.”

 

The results were successful. Patients found that their relationship to pain shifted positively when they practiced mindfulness.

 

At times, their pain even disappeared. Patients also reported discovering that the vexing sensations that lived inside them were transient and shifting.

 

Rather than being constant throughout their day, the pain was shifting over time—a huge realization for those who felt perpetually burdened by their bodies.


Mindfulness was helping people relate to their pain differently.


For some, it was even opening a door to a freedom they had forgotten or had previously not known.
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An incredible feat!

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“May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.”

– Nelson Mandela
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Think it is to difficult letting thoughts go?

 

 

Think enduring a mundane existence is difficult?

 

Examine this incredible life, one of sacrifice and service.

 

 

Remember chasing pleasure is not the road to happiness.

 

Mandela sure did not chase pleasure but his life changed a country!

 

Mandela spent 27 years in prison, upon returning to society, released his hate and forgave his abusers.

 

Beside this monumental compassion, he had the wisdom to unite his country.
Hard to find a more amazing feat in our generation, in my opinion.
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