Something that I haven’t shared with too many people, is that since late 2009 I have suffered with chronic pain that has been debilitating.
OK… please stop there, I hear you say, this is not another whinge post from some other complaining person on the web is it?
No – this will not be a whinge post, but a self help guide for those suffering chronic pain 🙂 I will try to avoid complaining, however I will comment on how difficult it has been from time to time, so that you can understand how challenging life can be with chronic pain.
OK, you say, lots of people have pain. My back hurts some times; I have had to take pills too; I hurt my leg once and couldn’t walk for a month too. But what do you mean by chronic pain? Does that just mean more severe. Yes and no.
A short description, but if you want more information, I would suggest that you search the internet for a medical definition. Start here – http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/pmri/pain/index.php
There are two main types of pain.
Acute pain is pain that lasts for less then 3 months, generally caused by an injury. It can be treated, with pain-killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, splints etc… It generally resolves within a few months. (The injury is concidered healed by 3 months)
Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond 3 months, it can be severe and debilitating, and is unlikely to resolve with any treatment. It may last your entire life, and medication doesn’t work. There is no physical treatment that will make it better. i.e. physiotherapy, massage, medication, operations etc. will not work.
I am not going to carry on with a big sob story, that is not what this post is about – apart from that, I am mostly coping – but it is about chronic pain, the path of chronic pain and the only treatment you have – self management.
A very short brief.
I have had many injuries over my life. Minor neck, back, wrist, fingers etc… In 2009, I was sitting in the cinema, developed a severe headache, came home and started vomiting because the pain was so severe. From then on, my pain has never gone away. It has reduced a little, and I don’t get as many flare ups, but I have had to give up many things I once did that were enjoyable. I can’t even crawl around on the floor and play with my child – it causes too much pain.
I did the usual doctor thing, x-rays, CT, MRI etc… no significant problems that would cause all of the pain, or the intensity, that I had.
Some of the treatments that I was given by doctors caused significant side effects. The NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs) caused stomach ulcers, and bowel sensitivities – stomach and tummy pains for about three years.
A combination of drugs even landed me in hospital with suspected serotonin syndrome that wasn’t even identified in hospital, but found by accident by a physician that had an iPhone app which he used to isolate three conflicting drugs. Once I reduced/cut out one or more of those drugs, the symptoms disappeared.
The drugs weren’t really working anyway, so it wasn’t any great loss to stop them, but the visit to the hospital and the associated symptoms were very significant – I can’t even remember what they were now – too much has happened since then.
By this stage the pain had not got any better. Often I would end up vomiting because the pain was so severe. I coped – sort of. Lots of pain-killers (that only took the edge off), and counselling that helped me to cope.
In 2011 I was referred to the pain clinic at Royal North Shore Hospital. I had an experimental procedure to see if the pain was from a facet joint, the result was inconclusive.
They then suggested the ADAPT programme (what this series of posts is really about). This programme is conducted within the Pain Management & Research Centre at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. Pain Management Research Institute
That meant that I would have to take three weeks off work to attend the hospital each and every day. I had only just started a new job, and wanted to try a few other things like pilates first.
The deciding factor
Two and a half years later, and a couple of injuries on top of the existing pain, I had finally had enough. I quit my job (which was with a nasty pathology company anyway and I had had enough of being bullied) and decided to book into the pain clinic.
This post, and the following few, will detail how that went, what I learnt, and more importantly the benefits that I have achieved.
The program is based around the book “Manage Your Pain” http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780733330247/manage-your-pain-3rd-edition
While I already knew a bit about chronic pain, the book helped to put a few other things into place.
I have so far attended two days, and while exhausting and painful, we are looking at a few things that we can do to start to address the pain problem. While it may never actually be possible to eliminate my pain, by using the programme, I will learn to manage it better, and live a better quality life.
I WILL achieve this, and I will try to share the journey with you.
I will write what I can about this journey as I go along, hoping to share what I have learnt and where you might be able to benefit if you have chronic pain (but I have a lot of home-work to do each night).
I will also comment on a few things that I have found and perhaps on some of the things that most trouble me with the programme. I don’t mean that I have issues with the programme, but how I feel I will deal with the changes that I will have to make – and that my family may need to make!
I hope that by presenting this to you, that you will be able to see the uselessness of most treatments in treating chronic pain, and that a management programme such as this, is perhaps our best chance, perhaps our only chance, of living comfortably after succumbing to a chronic pain health problem.
One final note
I might note that 20% of the population struggle with chronic pain. This is a VERY high percentage, and shows why a proper treatment plan is essential!
Wish me luck. I will try to keep you relatively up to date so that perhaps you can see how to manage your pain better. (day 2 is already over, and I haven’t actually written anything of day 1 yet!!!)
But… I am too tired, and it hurts!
Bye for now,
Last updated: 27th February 2015