The Chronic Pain Experience
What is the very first step in Pain Management?
Do you remember when your doctor told you your pain was here to stay?
All hope of permanent relief was gone.
Did it feel like you entered a dark tunnel?
Sally was sitting in her doctor’s office.
She heard his voice and knew that he was explaining “what’s next” after the diagnosis, but all she could do was feel the despair rising up in her. For the rest of her life, she is doomed to live in pain!
She will ALWAYS FEEL PAIN! She had no idea how she would even manage to get up from her chair and go home, let alone wake up tomorrow to face the first day of the rest of her life with the diagnosis of “CHRONIC PAIN. She was in deep sorrow.
It is at this point most practitioners will mention the words Pain Management.
They mention words like coping, live with, move through, and adjust to. What the doctor forgot to realize is that you haven’t yet moved into a place where you’re ready to accept that your pain is forever. You’ve moved into a place of grief. A person cannot be ready to accommodate a “new normal” until they have processed the loss they have experienced. As Your well-meaning Doctor is readily prescribing you alternatives to treatment, you may be sitting stunned, shocked, and hopeless.
The dark tunnel that you have just entered – is called grief.
Wikipedia says –
Grief is the response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or some living thing that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, grief also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, while grief is the reaction to that loss.
The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health, or the end of a relationship.
Loss can be categorized as either physical or abstract; physical loss is related to something that the individual can touch or measure, such as losing a spouse through death, while other types of loss are more abstract, possibly relating to aspects of a person’s social interactions.]
So, when I say grief, most people automatically think that no one died.. However, it is just as equally important to process the grief from their own personal loss of ability, or comfort in their own bodies.
This is why today we are going to discuss the stages of grief and how they relate to you grieving the loss of abilities, and the ability to be comfortable in your own body.
When people don’t grieve, it often places them in a state of anxiety. We see this often when we observe loved ones who haven’t excepted the death of someone in their life. However, we often don’t equate grief to a process we need to go to through when we lose something close to us.
The loss of hope is a sure recipe for depression.
Here we find ourselves in a cycle of overwhelming anxiety and depression… and all we hear from the voices around us is “get used to it.”
Now you have permission to slow down and grieve.
Grief is part of the human experience and learning to grieve well is something that all of us will benefit from. For one moment I would like for you to slow down a little and explore where you might be in your own grief process. To do that we are going to visit (or revisit) the stages of grief.
Denial: – This cannot be happening!
Often the first stage of grief is the thought that the information that you received must not be true. Some of the symptoms of denial are
Feeling numb and shocked
Being confused and disoriented
Shutting down and not being able to process emotions
Forgetting about the information you have just received regarding your condition
Avoiding the reminders that your pain is chronic. As in not telling your loved ones of the prognosis
Sleeping more than usual, or distracting yourself with media
Procrastinating -dealing with the loss, such as not following the doctors’ suggestions
Anger: – Why is this happening to me?
Feeling out of control
Being angry with your loved ones even though it is not their fault
Becoming frustrated with daily activities
Feeling that your body has betrayed you
Expressing frustration in otherwise normal interactions
Placing blame on yourself or others for your pain
Bargaining: – I will do anything to change this!
Creating a lot of “ What if” and “Only if statements”
Seeking miracle cures or faith healers
Making deals with God / the universe /
Imagine that if the pain would leave, you would be a better person from now on.
Depression: What is the point of going on in this pain?
You feel frozen in your tracks
Lack the energy or motivation to do daily activities
Finding no joy in the things that you used to enjoy
Your personal hygiene suffers
Feelings of hopelessness dominate your thoughts and conversations
Acceptance: I know I cannot change this –
I will find ways to live a fulfilling life with it
Courage to face the reality of your pain the way it is
Ability to validate yourself, and the steps you are taking to live a fulfilling life
Compassion for your body, being present with your body and how it feels right now
Feeling positive and hopeful
Engaging your new reality, rather than what you thought it might be
Seeking out new meaning
Feeling secure and relaxed
Having tolerance for your vulnerabilities and limitations
Communicating in an honest and open manner
Psalms 22:24 – For He has nor despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden his face from him but has listed to his cry for help.
Psalms 46:1-2 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth giveaway and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Psalms 73:26 – My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Hebrews 4:14–16 – Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.