How do I Cope? Let me Count the Ways

A friend asked me for steps for coping with pain – a one, two, three. Which I said was impossible as the whole process is organic, not catalogued. But have had a bad time lately and been very discouraged today, which forced me to yank myself out of the spiral of despair. So I watched what happened so I can tell her.

The Pain Clinic has been disastrous. (Aside – I curse Apple’s intuitive spelling, but sometimes it is rewarding. It insisted on putting “sin clinic”. I caught it, but did wonder if it might have been much more fun than the Pain Clinic. Would it be a betasseled, red plush bordello, such a contrast with the khaki clinic – what would you do there?)

The drugs not only zonked me and barely touched the pain, but the NSAID suppositories, that my doctor swore wouldn’t affect my digestive tract, did. I only used 4 over to weeks, not every six hours as prescribed. They gave about an hour’s relief each. However, my digestive tract is back to square one, burning, cramping and hurting.

The injections left my muscles in spasm and my sacrum locked. Have had ten sessions of low level laser since with no improvement and my physio said it was the worst she had seen it.

So here we are at Easter. We had to cancel dinner with a friend after I had been awake two nights with cramps. We did manage a drink at a friend’s last night for an hour. She had bar stool type chairs at a counter, so with my back rest and the counter as a prop I managed an hour. However, today, my back is locked up tight in protest.

So it was one of those days where I could do something for ten minutes, then lie down. After lunch, with my stomach like a cauldron, I lay down to rest and listen to an audiobook. My mind kept spiraling down, probably because it is difficult to be distracted when the stomach is so insistent.

I caught myself going into pessimism, shades of Martin Seligman (see earlier entry), getting caught in a trough and being unable to see an immediate way out – or a long term solution. I have tried everything I can find and have run out of options, things that helped in the past have stopped working and each time my back and stomach fail, they never recover to the earlier level. I am inching down a hill.

“Above and Beyond!”. Those words have rescued me before. I have to find a place above the place of pain I am now in. Literally, pull myself up out of the mud of despair. I can feel where my consciousness is now physically. Like rising out of drizzle through clouds into sunlight, I can visualize a light, bright place where I could be. It is very hard to make the leap, probably because, neurologically, when you are in a particular state you can only easily access similar states. Which is why, if you learn something when you are drunk, you recall it better when drunk than sober.

But, I have found that if you can forcibly make that first mud-sucking step, then it is much easier remaining up in a positive place.

I then listened to a hypnosis CD track for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which soothed my stomach. The tearful feeling was gone and the spiraling self-talk stopped. I then came downstairs and did something practical, which was sending information on autism to a friend. It was very helpful that the focus was on someone else, not me.

We went for a walk, I cut up vegs for supper, wrote this and am going to go upstairs and do an Open Focus meditation to try and reduce the pain, take the small amount of codeine I can tolerate and be ready for friends to come for drinks. I have my zero-gravity chair here, so as long as I don’t have to sit too long, I can do it. I don’t know if this is any help to my friend, but it is what it was like and how I managed to turn things around.

While changing, was struck by how fortuitous (and I do mean by chance, not fortunate!) it is that we have characteristics that work with the handicaps I have. We tend to be people of habit, so a more restricted diet doesn’t worry us. We grew up in post-war Britain, where a diet of brown Windsor soup, cabbage and gray meat numbed our taste buds and although we did get biscuits, and puddings (not glamorous enough for dessert, when they have names like spotted dick) there was not the dessert culture of North America. So we are not only thin, but also don’t crave chocolate.

I was brought up to “be seen and not heard” so developed a vivid imagination, a love of books and the ability to be happy in my own company. All this makes the simplicity and deep peace of our life very satisfactory.

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, brain and mind, chronic pain, coping with pain, pain, pain - coping techniques, pain relief and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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