Pilgrim’s Progress


It is a year since I saw a surgeon for pain relief. I was hoping that he would do an anesthetic injection into my sacral area as that is always where the pain persists.

Instead, he said there was nothing he could do – he thought there was nothing wrong with the sacrum, an opinion with which both my chiropractor and physio disagreed. He prescribed me a metal “chair back brace.”

I took one look at it on line and burst into tears. As I wryly remarked to my husband “I am too old for a chastity belt.” Also it would have made me immobile and forced me to sit upright, the position that causes me the most pain.

At that point, I could not sit for very long, couldn’t even move my spine enough to dust furniture – not my main aim in life, but frustrating to be so useless. My life consisted of moving around a little and then lying down. Reading anything more than a lightweight paperback hurt. Pain was a constant. My GP talked of wheelchairs and round the clock narcotics. She also warned me that even with narcotics I could not safely do much more.

I refused the narcotics as I have friends who have gone that route. They ended up needing stronger and stronger drugs. I compromised on a more flexible brace, though with reservations as it would weaken my muscles.

So today I look back with amazement at my progress. Today, I polished all the furniture, washed the bathroom floor, prepared lunch and put supper in the slow cooker, and did the ironing. Later I drove to several stores, walking round and standing reluctantly in line. Came home, lay down for half an hour and then prepared vegetables and snacks. All with no pain killers and without a brace.

Seems a paltry list my most people’s lights, but huge by mine. And , of cours, there are many days when I can’t do nearly as much, but this was a good day – and I luxuriate in it.

Afterwards, I had to sit in my zero gravity chair with a hot pad at my back and an ice pack on my ankle, but that’s fine. Makes me so hopeful for the future.

Have to credit the improvement to Open Focus meditation which gave me a narcotic-free way of lifting pain and also enabled me to get out of the trough of pain. It works by smoothing out the brain waves which go out of synchrony in pain. Although I still have pain when I do very much, and Open Focus doesn’t work well in social situations, it has made it possible to see pain as temporary, rather than as my identity.

Next, I credit Low Level Laser Therapy (more info) which calmed down the inflammation so the sacrum could settle. It works as a pick-me-up as well after things like a transatlantic flight. Because of my surgery, all the stress of movement is taken on my sacrum, which gets irritated and flares very easily. But I can now do strengthening exercises without causing a flare up. It does put me back, but needs frequent repetition as soon as I do something, like sitting on a soft sofa, that frames me.

Chronic pain persists because the brain gets hypersensitive to pain signals. I saw on CBC TV that the brain is reported to change permanently. Because I seem to be getting good results with my IBS hypnosis CDs, I wonder whether the same treatment would work for chronic pain. It is a similar reaction: in both cases the nerves get hypersensitive after an assault. Also, the digestive tract and the back pain signals travel the same route, which is why if my digestion is out, then my back follows.

I checked the site and they do a program for Chronic Pain. I have downloaded the tracks and will start them as soon as I finish my IBS program.

About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
This entry was posted in back pain, chronic pain, coping with pain, pain, pain - coping techniques, pain relief, therapies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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