I wanted to take the time to explain why I go through so much and put myself through so much to help my pain and not ask for higher pain medications. I see people all the time work themselves into a frenzy, cry, and get hysterical because of their pain and raise their blood pressure and really increase their pain through all these actions and then want higher pain medications.
I choose to be in charge of my pain because I feel that going higher and higher with pain medications will put me in the position of not having a choice one day for one day the pain will be so bad and the doctors will have to say “we can not give you any higher pain medications without endangering your life”. So, to me….constantly wanting higher pain medications removes my choices.
I actually am working to lower the amount of pain meds I use because now that I have loss of kidney function, it is harder for my kidneys to filter the meds through and because I want options in my life. I want to know that as my diseases progress and my pain gets worse that they can give me something to help during bad flares.
Many people seem to wear pain medications like some sort of badge to prove how bad their pain is. I deliberately do not tell what my pain medications are because I do not believe that what you take proves how high your pain is. I believe what you do for your pain does. I see people all the time brag “oh I am on morphine” as if it validates how they feel. This is part of that lack of self soothing I have talked about in the past and using an “item” to prove to themselves and others what is wrong instead of telling yourself that your pain is high and you need to take ownership of it.
I have actually had people ask me what pain medications I use and if I choose to tell them, they have said “oh my pain must be so much worse because I am on morphine”. I just smile to myself for here they are telling someone who is in a hospital bed from severe chronic pain that their pain is worse and they are up walking around and driving to the store. What they do not know is I was put on morphine a couple of years ago and had to stop it as it lowered my heart rate to 39 bpm. They are using the medication they take to try to prove how bad their pain is. I do not need to prove to anyone but myself and to my doctor what my pain level is and then I need to own it and be part of helping it.
My godfather taught me that chronic pain should be treated like an old friend. My first reaction was “what?????” but as he talked to me, he explained what he meant. He said we treat old friends with respect, with love, with gentleness and kindness and with great care. So, what he was telling me was to treat my chronic pain with these things.
I believe in owning our words, our actions and our stories and I also believe in owning our health. When my pain increases, and not take pain med before it’s time or calling the doctor to demand stronger pain medications..I start first doing things I know I can do to help with my pain flare. I do massage therapy, I apply heat or cold, I use lotions which help the nerve endings of my skin, I use music, , I use distraction like watching a movie, I lay down when I know I need to or raise the leg part of my hospital bed, I use wrapping my legs to help with pain, etc and I also am using alternative methods with my doctors to help with the pain.
Alternative methods for me include the radio frequency ablation of the spine which is not a steroid injection…it is not an injection of anything. It is putting a big needle in beside the spine and then a smaller needles goes in that big needle and they burn the nerves to stop some of the pain that is so bad. And it does work. I will be starting it again next week on my mid spine and it lasts six months to a year. After the first set of Radio Frequency Ablation, I was able to lower my pain medication a little and my hope is that this next time will be the same.
Another alternative method for me is the manipulations that my DO’s are doing. Yes, it is painful and I hurt badly for a couple of days after but then the relief is there. They have managed to remove one more block of pain for me. My TENS unit is another alternative method of helping my pain as are braces, wraps, my hospital bed with a gel mattress (my jelly bed) and even the physical therapy.
So many people think a pill is the miracle cure because they do not have to do anything themselves. I have seen people get mad because the pill did not take away all their pain and they would work themselves up into hysterics and go back to the doctor demanding more pain medications. Nothing is going to remove all the pain and we need some pain for it tells us when we are dong harmful things. Pain tells us when we are burning ourselves or straining our muscles or anything else that is damaging to ourselves.
Son and others tell me that when my pain gets even higher, that I get very quiet. It is because I am saving my strength for dealing with the pain. I know things that trigger my pain…stress, crowds, bright lights, sounds, temperature changes, very dry skin…hunger even can make me not able to fight pain effectively because my body is trying to handle two needs at once..hunger and pain. So, I make sure to eat on time and when feeling really poorly, I drink a cup of soup just so my body has what it needs. When I am working on my pain, I use the dim lights in my room, turn off all sounds, have my fans blowing to circulate the air and I create an environment that is to help my pain.
I believe the mind is a powerful tool in dealing with pain. The quote “whether you think you can or you think you can not…you will be right” applies to pain too. If you believe something will help your pain…it will. This was proven back in WWII when the doctors ran out of morphine for the wounded soldiers and could not get any more in for a day or so. They did not know what to do and so finally one doctor suggested that they tell the patients that a pill that was basically a sugar pill was a brand new high-powered pain med and they really hyped it up. They found that with the majority of patients, their own bodies produced the endorphins to ease their pain because they believed the pills would work.
My son and I use these alternative methods for he too suffers with chronic pain. Unfortunately, a big part of my health issues are genetic. But, we both believe in alternative methods so much that son wrote with our dear friend, Dr. Sherry E. Showalter, a book on chronic pain and alternative methods to help with pain control. We use these methods daily and I use alternative methods the doctors recommend, too. I believe in taking ownership of pain and in using resources other than another pain pill to help my pain and because I believe in the effectiveness of these methods…my pain is being helped.
Son’s and Sherry’s book can be found on Amazon here:
Son writes under the name of John Argent. He is a first responder and a trained caretaker and has taken care of me for several years now and if he did not believe like I do in alternative methods in dealing with pain…he would not have written the book.
And this is why I work so hard to try to come down on pain pills and work on other alternative methods to help with my pain. I do not want to lose my choices as the diseases progress. I also do not want to shut my system down from taking so much pain medicine that my respiratory system suffers or my kidneys or other organs. Radio Frequency Ablation and manipulation of the spine, etc have been great alternatives to taking another pill and the methods I use at home…recognizing and identifying what makes my pain worse and creating an environment to help with my pain are all things that have helped me deal with a life of chronic pain. It is a personal choice that I found has given me the strength to be a partner in dealing with my chronic pain and not being passive and expecting a pill to do it all.