The Secret Life of Pain is an article in New York Times which a friend sent me to read, and I just felt I had to share with my pain pals.
The article starts off by telling you about the double life that David Roberts, a former academic physicist and diplomat who lives and works in New York City.
He goes on to explain how he hid is chronic pain in many ways, one being that he had an orthotic cushion inside his briefcase and would make a joke out of sitting on the briefcase. He also wore a corset and heat wrap which he disguised under his tailored suit. He had become adept at hiding his back pain from everyone except his family.
He would even sneak upstairs when working at conferences to get some pain relief from his wife who would work on his back. Eventually he had to tell the Embassy where he worked about his double life.
He had medicals and tests and saw a number of people in the medical field but no-one said they could help him. So he joined what he called no-hopers at Mayo’s pain rehabilitation centre.
At this clinic pain was treated quite different to anywhere else where they explain that the brain becomes addicted to dramatizing pain, and the more you feed it, the stronger the addiction. So, they said, don’t dwell on the pain, and don’t try to fix it – no props, no pills, and eventually the mind should let go.
Obviously he said he was a bit skeptical at the beginning but after reading up on it as much as he possibly could he began to understand that this was quite logical. He decided to give the Mayo clinic program a go. Stripped of all his props the clinic told him to turn his mind towards his breathing.
He tried it, and noticed that as he sat and concentrated on his breathing he could see flickers of awareness. After practicing every day for a couple of months, he was able to sit back and see the difference. Although they try not to talk about the pain anymore, he knows his props are locked up in a cupboard, out of view. He says that the old panic doesn’t rise like it used to, the sensations rise and fall but that he now acts and looks like a healthy man.
I found this article inspirational, and although I have written in the past how I feel that my writing takes me away from my pain, maybe I am wrong and that writing takes my mind away from my pain by focusing on something. Obviously this is no quick fix but certainly ‘mind over matter’, must come into the equation of coping with life in chronic pain.