Chronic Pain or Persistent Pain is defined as pain that lasts for longer that 6 months. It's reported that 1 in 5 Canadians suffer with Chronic Pain and yet little is done in the way of research in Canada and it is often met with apathy by doctors who expect their patients to grin and bear it.
As some of you may or may not know, I have been dealing with Chronic Pain for the past 10 years. What began as sciatica, and disc herniation in my lower back has progressed to years of inflammation, flares, pain, and treatment after treatment after treatment. I've had MRI's, X-rays, CT scans, been hospitalized, seen Neurologists and have had countless trips to the emergency room. My original family physician felt there was nothing he could do aside from send me for physiotherapy and prescribe heavy narcotics.
I've seen Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, Physio Therapists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths, and Osteopaths. I've had Reiki Treatments, Bowen Therapy, Reflexology, Healing Touch Therapy, Body Talk Therapy. I've worn magnets. I've prayed, been prayed over, I've wanted to die, I've begged for relief.
Pain is debilitating. It effects your whole being. Body, Mind and Soul. It effects your job, your friends, your home, your finances, those who you love and those who love you. Everyone is involved because everyone feels helpless.
Last year around this time, I was fortunate to switch to a new medical office and receive a new family doctor who listened a bit better. I developed an auto immune condition called Uvetitis which effects vision in one eye or both and was a clue to my diagnosis now which is Ankylosing Spondylitis. However, the diagnosis doesn't solve the pain problem. I need medication in order to cope with the pain, but the medication along with the pain, can make it difficult to function at work, at home etc.
Shorty after my diagnosis, my Naturopath recommended a new physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic pain/ disorder but knew quite a bit about persistent/chronic pain, and the way the nervous system responds to pain over a long time. Meeting this new physiotherapist is changing the way I think about my condition, pain and the way my body responds. I had no idea that over time my nervous system had become hyper-sensitive to the pain response. Almost expecting pain to happen with slight movement, slight pressure, bending, twisting, my brain perceives "danger" and "threats" around the most innocent of activities. There is a lot of research coming from Australia on this topic. Follow this link to find out more about the nervous system response as they do a much better job of explaining it than I can.
So, this past year I have been working on calming my nervous system, which I can tell you is a slow slow process. I want to write about my experiences and my "journey"-ugh I hate that term, but its accurate. it is a journey. My hope is that if I share what I am learning, and what is helping me... it just might help someone else too, maybe someone you know, or maybe even you.
Thinking of you,
A copy of this post is now a page on the blog. On that page I'll also be posting links, a list of books and other posts. I look forward to your comments, shared experiences, and support.