Get on Top of Your Pain

How I chose to deal with my chronic pain.

How I gained a quality of life back and see the world in a different way with gratitude

In starting this article I would just like to say that No One knows what pain You suffer or that I suffer and how that pain feels or hurts for any of us.  We can relate to a pain on a scale of 0 to 10 and 0 being none and10 being unbearable that is all I know.  No One has the right, No One should tell You how You should feel, or how Your pain should feel on an emotional, mental or physical level. No One has that right and only You know how You feel at any given time of the day or night.  Suffering with a chronic illness is a dreadful thing because most times we become alone with our pain and feel that no one understands, no one listens or we tell ourselves what’s the point in talking about it when no one cares anyway…Well You cannot just snap out of it and tomorrow is not always a better day…BUT there are ways to deal and help with your pain, but only you can make that decision what road to take on your journey.

Prescription pain medications and antidepressants in my humble opinion should only be prescribed by a doctor who specializes in pain management or a psychiatrist.  Our Society is full of people who are dependent on Narcotics and other mind altering drugs and the majority of people choose not to get to the root of their pain and in most cases family practitioners and emergency room doctors give out hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for pain medications, narcotics and anti depressants to people who do not necessarily need them but these doctors who are not specialists think they do.

My own personal journey with all the above started when my body got quite the trauma when I had a bad fall years ago and broke my ankle and fractured my leg in a number of places and worse when I had a very serious car accident in 2006 where I hurt my neck, back and sternum.  As a result I suffer with chronic pain and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Osteo Arthritis after years of going back and forth from doctor to doctor.  I got to see some amazing Doctors and Specialists over the years and people who helped me on a journey to heal.  After I broke my ankle I got to the point I was taking pain meds like candies, being prescribed 100 pills at a time, going for refills for the meds and no one asked how come I was taking so many to the point that I wanted to take my own life and I admitted myself to the hospital and was weaned off of them and put on anti depressants as I was depressed and for good reasons, I lost my job, had no income, knew I would have several surgeries and it would be a very long time before could walk again or work and I probably would have to walk with two canes which I proved them wrong as I worked so hard at walking alone that after two years I walked with no canes for a while and then back to one cane and then again I worked at walking with no canes to today.  I was also given a non narcotic medication for my pain at that time and I went to a Traditional Doctor of Chinese Medicine and tried alternative treatments.  I stayed on anti depressants for a long time but I never felt myself, in fact I never felt anything remotely like myself, hardly felt anything at all as I felt so numb on many levels that’s what the drugs did to me.

After my car accident I got a referral to a pain clinic as I needed serious help with pain management due to the serious injuries I was dealing with after I tried acupuncture and the doctor told me my injuries were far too serious for him to help me with alone.  Once again I found myself for a number of years going back and forth every week twice a week for trigger point injections as well nerve and pain blocks and these injections for those of you who do not know trigger point and nerve blocks are not acupuncture needles but injections and sometimes I felt like a human pin cushion in addition to taking again a bunch of pain pills and then narcotics for at least the next 8 years.  No way to live as those of you who do live this way know……It is a life where you are so dependent on these chemicals and your world becomes so isolated and your alone with your pain and pills and you cut off the world around you as no one understands what you are going through, people your own family included most times do not understand your level of pain and why you do the things or say the things you do or act the way you do that is how my world was.  I existed but I was not living my life.  I spent most of my years suffering alone and a lot of my days a number of hours during those dark years as I refer to them in bed feeling abandoned and helpless.  One day I had a doctor at the pain clinic I did not know very well talk to me and ask me if I knew that taking all these meds would only cut my life short……an “Ah Ha” moment I told myself and I went home that night and quit cold turkey all the pills and went back the following week in bad shape as you just don’t do that without talking to your doctor first and find out the right way to come off drugs and was then put on one narcotic only and a sleeping pill not a cocktail of pills.  Life went on…..

Three years ago a Doctor I was seeing at the Pain Clinic for a number of years told me to read on the internet the results of studies where people who increased their protein levels with steroid and antibiotic free protein were able to reduce their pain considerably. So I started to research and find out as much as I could and decided to try.  I went on a high protein diet.  I started to have organic protein shakes twice a day, snacks of yoghurt, fresh organic fruit and then one meal a day of protein which was fish, chicken or I had one meal of red meat once a week that was antibiotic and steroid free along with lots of vegetables, I also included a lot of chlorine free water in my diet.  I started to notice after a week that first and foremost I had a burst of energy, no carbohydrates I felt no sugar cravings and I then included a short walk and when I tell you a short walk it was exactly that as I was so out of shape and my body was so unconditioned to walk.  Slowly, Slowly I started to lose weight and walk a little further every time I would go for a walk.  I began to walk an average of 5 kms a day and when you add that up that is 35 kms a week.  With the help of my doctor I was able to reduce the dosage of my medications.  I recognized the difference in what that extra protein and exercise did for my body.  So I plodded along for a couple of years like this, started to include Yoga for light stretching and also learned other ways to help my pain.  

Last Year I had a very bad week with my pain I had a flare up and I had to take some extra narcotics for a number of weeks and one night I guess I took too many.  The following morning I went to the pain clinic and had my injections and on the drive home it all hit me that I did not know what the heck was going on and I went through a red flashing light at the railway tracks……when I crossed the tracks and heard the train horn blasting as I crossed I was so shocked wide awake and I pulled over on the side of the road.  After the lights turned green  the car driving behind me pulled over to see if I was OK….obviously I was a mess and I was in such a state of shock that I had nearly killed myself and could have caused other people to be involved in this accident.  So this man of compassion who took the time to see if I was alright and his wife comforted me and gave me a ride home and I left my car to be picked up later by a friend.  I got home and after sitting with myself and thoughts for hours I decided that I could not and did not want to live this way anymore.  If I was taking so many narcotics and they were not helping me now what on earth was I going to do in years to come if I should live that long.  So I told myself this is it… time to take control of my life … this time no more pills and I had to take my life into my own hands now and look at what my options were.  I went for my next scheduled appointment the following week to a Doctor that had taken over my care two years previous and who I developed a great trust and friendship with and told my doctor what happened and that I wanted to stop all my meds.  He looked at me and said if I was serious he would help me.  I again weaned myself off the narcotics and then took a drug to strip all the residue of narcotics out of my body.  For those of you who have had to do this you know just how dreadful this process is and as I write this I can tell you I will never ever put my body or myself through that again.  It took a long time but gradually I started to feel human again and my injections tapered off to once a week.  A couple of months later I told the doctor I wanted to see just how long I could go without the injections and I began to take and still do take lots of vitamin supplements along with zinc, folic acid and glucosamine and an over the counter medication as I need for my pain, I still do take something stronger  as I need but only till I get on top of the pain again and then  know to stop and this works for me for now.  I started to walk and walk further distances until I walked 15kms in one walk alone and now walk long distances several times a week.  I started going to Tai chi and learning how to move my body and heal with Qi Gong. I channel my pain into my art, I write poems, articles and I journal my pain. I started again to use visualization techniques I had learned over the years in addition I started shamanic journeying after reading and learning how to do that incredible thing for myself. From a little girl my favorite poem was Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, never in a million years living in the Midlands in England growing up did I imagine I would live on the shores of Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes here in Canada so when I am in pain I do my shamanic journey I listen for the drum beat and I turn into Minnehaha and with my spirit animal we climb down the roots of a very old willow tree and off we go into the ground into another world….The place I go to is a luscious green land with a beautiful running stream, I surround myself with birds and beautiful animals and it is a place in my mind at least where I run carefree, swim under the cool crystal blue waters then dry off in the sun as I sit by a stream with my spirit animal, my guide and it is a peaceful pain free beautiful place I have created in my imagination but I always listen for the drum beat to change to call me back to the real world and if you choose to do a Shamanic Journey the key is to listen for that drum beat.  When I am depressed I take a different journey in my mind I transport myself to a mountain top where I am in my mind at least in the presence of people I miss who I loved and who cared for me who are not here anymore and I like that I can do that.   In my mind I can transport myself back to the Middle East where I spent some of the most beautiful times of my life.  I can transport myself back there to the point I can taste the foods and smell the beautiful scent of jasmine and sheesha from the water pipes in the air, the sound of the people and music and everything I loved there.  When I am stressed I do another visualization techniques as I know now how so powerful it is to imagine your pain as a deep color and watch it turn lighter and is what works for me and what I have learned most of all is that my mind is an incredible powerful place of healing my body, my mind and my soul.

These techniques I have learned over the years help me to control my pain and depression without being a substance abuser of Narcotics as well using chemicals for depression. This is not the answer for everyone but I am living a life that to me is now as normal as it can be for the time being.  I can only hope in the future with all the research they are doing for pain and other serious conditions that alternatives to these mind altering drugs will be found.  I know that my pain will be with me for the rest of my life and that I will never get better but in time worse just like the rest of us who suffer from Chronic and debilitating pain that is a given, but for the time that I can, I get to choose to be in control of what I put into my body.  I encourage all of you if you can and after talking to a professional as I did to look at what your options are, think about trying something new no matter how bizarre it may sound at the time and open your mind to try an alternative approach.  As I said at the beginning of this article that No One can tell You or has the right to tell You how You should feel and how your pain feels on a physical, mental or emotional level.

There are people who work and do things in life in this world out of conviction or convenience and I dedicate this article to The Doctors who work with conviction who helped me and help other patients in pain management, mental disorders and illness. Dr. Carys Massarella who gave me my first “Ah Ha” moment at least 8 years ago for You saved my life the first time at the pain clinic in Oakville and I could not find you till recently to thank you. My compassionate Family Doctor Dr. Zafer Mian also my former Pain Specialist who took the time with me whenever I needed an ear, I will be eternally grateful to you for your compassion for me and for my Mother.  My Pain specialist, My confidant who had an interest in my journey and took the time to listen to me no matter how long I put him behind his schedule those days I needed someone to listen to me, My Hero, My Friend for ever Dr. Hany Demian, Medical Director at PCC you watched me laugh, cry, you saw me on my good days and my bad, watched me transform, and without  your compassion, encouraging words,  knowledge, expertise and help in my journey, I honestly would not be here today.  For all the great Doctors and Specialists everywhere who work out of a conviction I Thank You. Finally I have to thank Bryant McGill and Jenni Young, the Simple Reminders Network, all the Thought Leaders, you truly inspire me. My family, the gratitude I have in my heart for all of you since you came into my life is so very real my. Without all of you I would never have written this article, would not have been able to use my brain to think, would not have been encouraged to participate and write these articles and share my journey that may help someone in some way out there on the same road I have taken.

Love and light to everyone.