Chronic Pain 2


2…..And the beat goes on

So where did I leave off?

I talked about how doctor’s try to measure our pain with a 1 to 10 scale. Pain is subjective. There are so many words to describe pain, probably 100’s but I will try to provide a few adjectives that I have heard.

Pain is a very personal experience.People with the exact same illness or injury experience their pain differently.



We experience pain differently because we all have different “perceptions” of our pain. So many things can influence our pain. Here are just a few.

*     CONTEXT: where and when the pain occurs. Say that you are in a plane crash. You are not alone. There are people laying on the ground with many types of injuries. You have a complex fracture of your left leg. Still, you crawl about trying to tend to victims with even more serious injuries. You barely feel your own pain until you are rescued and the crisis passes.

*     HOW YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN PAIN: Sometimes my pain is so bad that I can barely think about anything else. I am up there around an 8 or 9 on the pain scale. I am a dishrag because I am totally immersed in the pain experience so I do not allow for “distraction”.

One of my worst fears is getting burned in a fire. I know through my research that burn victims suffer unimaginable pain as they undergo treatments or therapy. However, research also has found that burn victims experience less pain if they allow themselves to be distracted by playing interactive video games as they get treated. So, I guess the lesson here is that when I am in severe pain, I need to “distract” myself with  music, TV, movies (not too intense), etc. Most recently I started playing solitaire on my tablet (so long as my pain does not  rest in my wrists) and I believe it is helpful. Not completely, but it may bring the pain down to a 6 or 7 which is more manageable.

    ANXIETY AND FEAR – sometimes I fear that I have absolutely no control over my illness/pain. Negative emotions contribute to pain. However possible, added stress needs to be avoided. To avoid those awful feelings I have no power in my illness, I try to “participate” more in my treatment by discussing medications, procedures, surgeries and diagnostic procedures with my doctors. It really helps you feel like you are more of a “partner” in your care, as opposed to being somebody’s “patient” with no will of my own.

•      MEMORY – Ask yourself if you have ever felt “this kind of pain” before. We all have expectations of pain. I had a very painful inflammation of my rib cage awhile ago. Practically any movement (lifting, raising my arms, breathing, etc.) caused pain in the range of 9. Just a few days ago, I thought I was feeling the onset of another bout of “chondroitis” and almost felt like I had to cancel my mini-vacation as I was certain the pain was going to be debilitating. I had the “expectation” that the pain would be incapacitating. Instead, whatever the “pain” was it disappeared within 24 hours. I went on that vacation!

Doctors have found that when they as their patients how the pain was after a “procedure”, patients often rate their pain as a 3 or 4. But ask them again 10 days later and they report that their pain was much higher.


There is sometimes what is referred to as “anticipatory” pain. I had an embarrassing experience with my rheumatologist. My wrist was very inflamed. I could barely move it. ,It was time for another “injection”. Getting injections in your wrist is no laughing matter. It really hurts. The doctor went to touch my wrist to assess my pain and before his fingers even reached my wrist, I cried out in pain. What I was feeling was “anticipatory” pain. I remembered how awful I believed it was going to hurt like and responded to that expectation.

*   FAMILY MATTERS-  Your “expectations” for pain can really determine how much you “feel” your pain. Say that as a child you suffered from a chronic illness or just had frequent colds or allergies. If your parents doted on you (pots of chicken soup, cartoons and, of course, no school) you may grow up subconsciously enjoying being ill. As an adult, you may expect from your caregivers the same degree of attention and nurturing you received as a child. If, however, your parents provided just routine care and said something like “it’s just sniffle now get yourself out of bed and on the school bus”, you may view illness and pains simply as  a nuisance. The risk: if you ignore or minimize your pain you may miss something important as pain is a warning.


*     Personal and Cultural Beliefs-  As a man do you believe it is not acceptable for a man to express his level of pain/distress? Do you believe that women are more susceptible to pain than men or that women are allowed to express pain more than men?
•      FINALLY,  there are coping abilities: Do you have good stress management skills? Stress management is essential as stress adds to the perception of pain. I know that when I am stressed, I experience far more pain than typically from my fibromyalgia.

So I guess that sums it up. There are a lot of influences that determine how much pain we feel and how we allow it to limit our lives.

Continue reading Chronic Pain 2

Chronic Pain..the Many Aspects of…


It is Monday morning and heavy rain pummels my window. The rain is much needed. Rolling over to silence the alarm clock, I note that my wrist is stiff and painful. This is usually an indication that my level of inflammation is high and that it is going to be an uncomfortable day. Maybe not. 

Sometimes it feels like pain is the only thing that is predictable in my life. Certainly not the weather.

I need to understand what my pain is about and perhaps, then, I will have more control over it. And so, I begin my research into Chronic Pain (C.P.)

Continue reading Chronic Pain..the Many Aspects of…

Best Friends

His name was Bogart…..

My raggedy friend.

Thinning hair. Ears frayed.

One blue eye, one green..

He beamed his threadbare smile.


I protect Bogart staunchly.

Fighter planes overhead in perfect formation.

Kennedy is dead.

Gremlins in the closet, voices boom outside my door.

Bogart fits in the bend of my arm.


We hide sometimes – Bogart and I.

Under the table with the long draping scarf.

In the treehouse in the field. “Boys only”.

In the basement. Never in the attic.


Reclusive in my bright yellow room.

The moon rises above the barn.

Daddy sleeps, still wearing his shirt and tie.

Mommy reads mystery novels in the recliner.


She reaches to hug,  Bogart and I.

Scanning the bruises with blind eyes.

Her touch feathers my cheek.


We join the others watching TV.

My own green bottle of Coke.

I do not join in the play.


Bogart’s arm must be sewn back lest he die.

Gentle stuffing, stitching.

Throw him away”. Ignore the voices.


Sounds around me fade.

Bogart’s arm slowly heals.

Ready for sleep. The peepers chirp in unison.

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Writings on the Wall

Torment Refused

A breeze spawns whirling 

dust devils

that scour her face

She curls in a bed of red clover

a low, hollow sob,

Anguished eyes, torment refused

A voice beckons

Are you ready? Toes dig

into the sand.

“Not while there are sweet teas to

sip and berries 

to be crushed

Shepherds Purse harvested

Leaves of raspberries 


There is bark to strip

and dry. Tinctures to be

strained, roots to be ground”

Her arms stretched before her

she leaps swirling, swaying,

spinning, dipping, pirouetting

I”ll call again…..

Writings on the Wall

The Last Bit of Green

“They’re all dead now – my friends. We played too hard. I should be dead now, too. 

A single blade of grass

thirsts for chlorophyll.

The sun set too early, too quickly.

He is taller, stronger… the others

succumbed to trampling by

joyful children and puppies,

the mowers and the clippers.

Nights of heavy frost.

Amid clover – he stands tall.

Refusing to turn brown

he lay dormant through the winter

But his roots survived and he

would rise again come Spring.

Buried beneath a soft

blanket of white –

a bit of green

stretches for the sun.