Friday, August 3, 2012

checking in: weak, worn out, but okay...and a recommendation to others with chronic pain

I confess...things have been rough.  The pain has been insane.  Constant, take-your-breath-away, 9 of 10 on the pain scale if I dared move a muscle.  It has also been having rough cognitive effects.  I've always been able to count on words and being able to write but that's been tough this past week.  The ghost-writing is taking 5 hours to do what used to take 90 minutes and two hours just to reword two paragraphs from a news report.  On the worst days, I haven't been able to finish a sentence aloud without a struggle.  I won't admit how many times I'm hitting the backspace key.

Today's not as horrid in the words world so I wanted to visit the blog-o-sphere to confirm I haven't fallen off the planet.  But I'll need forgiveness for not being at my most eloquent.

I've mentioned it in passing, but I've been seeing a Pain Shrink at the pain management clinic.  I cannot recommend it highly enough to chronic pain patients.  I am not generally a talk therapy kind of girl.  It just doesn't work for me.  I spent some time in couples' therapy with X.  At one point the counselor noted therapy seemed to be similar to my workouts...I did it hoping for results but never truly loved the time itself...the word "endure" came up in there.  X suggested in a session that he thought I needed individual counseling to process some old wounds.  The counselor said that some people find therapy actually re-traumatizes them, making old issues resurface and making them worse instead of helping to heal.  I always understood it could be wonderful and helpful to the right person.  Just not for me.

Pain counseling is really different.  In part, I think it is because it is about problems in the here and now versus stuff in the past that I've muddled through for long enough in my own head.  It's also just helpful to have someone who "gets it."  People can be incredibly supportive...I couldn't ask for a better partner than my Military Man...but it just is hard for anyone to fully understand unless they've been there.  Or, I suppose, unless they are really trained as a specialist and have decades of experience under their belt.  Pain Shrink really only works with pain and rehabilitation (mostly from physical problems, though he's seen substance recovery too).  He's seen it and knows what chronic pain does to a person's mind and body.  He's possibly the most helpful member of my ever-growing pain team (adding a new doc soon...).

He stood at my side when I fought the first, evil Pain Doc. He told me I wasn't alone in finding him unsupportive and even cruel....that it wasn't me and I needn't accept his verdict that I'm too wimpy and need to just deal with being bed-ridden.  Before Lady Pain Doc returned from leave, he said he'd help me find another clinic if I needed to...that he'd try to help me get in since sometimes pain docs refuse to take a transfer, though he warned it would be a decent drive so wasn't ideal and encouraged me to hold out to see when Lady Pain Doc might return.

He reassured me that needing pain control meds was nothing to be ashamed of, that he'd seen people who fit the "drug seeking" label and that I was not one of them.

He's told me not to feel like I should be ashamed of needing to wallow sometimes.  Nor should I feel like my pain is less true than a life-threatening issue, that it was normal to feel like there's a pain hierarchy but I shouldn't get caught up in it and that my pain was still quite real.

He told me it's normal to have days when I can't fight.  He said there's nothing wrong with sometimes staring at the ceiling, unable to do much else, and wishing the ceiling would fall in.  He said that's entirely different from being suicidal (though said to call if it ever went in that direction).  He said it is normal to sometimes want to get away from a body that hurts all the time.

He said he's seen surgery wards that give everyone a teddy bear and encouraged me to hold Teddy Bill without shame when I am lying in bed and hurting.

There's more, but I'm running out of word-steam so I'll finish with one that kinda made me cry, even if it feels a bit too much like tooting my own horn (how sad that it is so hard to praise oneself).  It is something that I think every chronic pain patient should hear...

He told me people ask how he does his job, seeing people in horrible pain day in and day out.  He said he told them that they wouldn't believe how amazing pain patients are, even if we have weak moments and days when we falter.  He said he had nothing but admiration for his patients, including me.  He said he was in awe of the courage I show, especially when I've pushed past all my limits to be there to see a dear friend get married and to help MM through a difficult loss. 

I haven't felt that lately.  I've felt all fought out.  He said that was fine too.  Which sometimes you need to hear from someone other than your Mom, Dad, and boyfriend.  After all, he's seen it all, he has a PhD in it, so it must be okay to be weak sometimes, and frustrated, and tired.  It doesn't make me a wimp (contrary to what the first Pain Doc said).  It's okay if some times the pain wins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry you're still having such a rough time. I agree on the counseling thing; having a therapist did a lot to help me not be so hard on myself for not being able to keep up with healthy people. Just being able to put my own needs first without feeling bad about it was a big help.