Letter to Michael

Today, Michael called. A mutual friend had told him I have chronic pain and might be able to help. After we chatted, I put together an email summarizing all we had talked about – and then thought it might also be useful to you.

Hi Michael,

You asked about pain clinics and the snag, here in Canada, is that most GPs won't refer you until your pain is well established. Mine wouldn't even take the first step of referring me to a back specialist “until you are dragging your leg.” In fact, until there was nerve damage, although I begged to be seen before I had damage. When she did get round to a referral, there was a two year wait. Pain clinics need to see you within 6 months of the pain starting. After two years, they told me, my brain would be permanently changed by pain. It was too late.

One of the most effective treatments, I found, is Low Level Laser. It takes about 6 treatments and doesn't hurt! I go back a couple of times a year when my back really kicks off. While it doesn't solve the cause of the pain, it does ease inflammation and calms my back when it gets its knickers in a twist. My blog post explains it in more detail.

You, like me, have great pain sitting, which is not only miserable but very anti-social. It makes socializing difficult; even watching TV together of an evening is hard. My way out has been a zero-gravity chair. I have a simple garden one that we keep in the back of the car. If we go to friends' houses, we take the chair and put it up in their sitting room. I had to give up any attempt to appear normal! Bad for my pride, but more comfortable on my back. We have one for the garden, too and also a more respectable indoor one for the sitting room. This I got from San Diego, delivered to a US mailbox (incongruous thought). Because it was shipped within the US, we didn't have to pay international shipping rates; because we collected it ourselves, there were no customs fees; and because it was prescribed by my doctor as a medical device, no import duty or sales tax.

You say that, like so many of us, you are relying on Tylenol for pain relief. Research has shown that it is ineffective against back pain as well as risky for your liver. As you said, you suspected as much because you still hurt like hell. I try to keep my liver for stronger meds.

Medical marijuana: Note that the CBD strain does not have a psychoactive effect. You do not get high. It does switch the pain right off. That said, it blocks the base pain, the angry, intense, always with me pain. I still feel stiff or achy at times, especially as I am now doing much more.

As for physio, your experience mirrors mine and that of many friends: the hot packs and pulsing doesn't do much and the manipulation and exercises just make me worse. Three months after my back surgery, I went to a nearby physio clinic for further exercises as instructed. It was a sunny day and I breezed in smiling; I came out crying with pain and it took me several months to regain ground.

One last, really helpful tip from a chiropractor: heat up a beanbag in the microwave first thing and lie on it for about twenty minutes. I hobble out of bed, take my pain meds and lie down with a cup of tea and the papers. Twenty minutes later, the meds are kicking in and the stiffness has eased off.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how you go on and get back if I can help any further.


Low Level Laser – link

Zero-gravity Chairs – link

Tylenol – backpain – link

Medical marijuana – link


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 information page and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

I really value your comments and particularly where something resonates with your experience.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s