Posted in Coping with Chronic Pain

Does Your Environment Increase your Chronic Pain?

Good morning!

It’s Friday, March 10th and one week from today we’ll be in our new home. It seems as though this journey has taken forever since we first moved to the NC mountains on December 1, 2016. But that is because our environment was less than normal. Living in my brother-in-law’s home was full of tension, irritation, and bad vibes. A very stressful four months.

Another aspect of tension and worry has been the present President and his administration. Whether you voted for him or not, it is clear that corruption, instability, and overspending are evident in this administration.

As a chronic pain and fibromyalgia sufferer, I’ve found that almost everything I read about the current administration inflames my pain throughout the day. Why would this person and his proposals affect me in this way?

It boils down to stress and the fact I allow my environment to stress me out. And because stress affects every aspect of our bodies – our sleep patterns, attitudes, and pain levels – it can be difficult to control.

But, I did find an article by Helen White, a contributor to the Huffington Post. Diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome of the joints (HMS), a condition that features joints that easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular joint. It is a benign condition per medicinenet.com, Ms. White has first hand experience with chronic pain and learned ways to tolerate and cope with her pain. (You can read more about this illness when you click on the highlighted typing.)

Ms. White’s article, “5 Things Living with Chronic Pain has Taught Me”, provided me with tools to live my life a little more stress-free and I briefly share her tips here:

LISTEN to your body and PACE yourself!

Without a doubt this is the hardest thing to do! I’m getting better at it, but I’m still not at the point to stop when my body gently gives the warning signs. No, I wait until the pain is full blown. Then it takes twice as long to control the pain.

Ms. White suggests “taking frequent breaks for gentle exercise and try to take things a bit slower.” She has a morning and evening yoga routine and listens to meditation CDs.

2-Have EMPATHY for others                                                                                                                                            

If your friend suffers from a Chronic illness, please don’t make suggestions on treating their pain. This isn’t helpful because unless you experience a Chronic Illness, you have no idea what your friend is experiencing.

I went through this experience in 2013 when my world literally fell down around me. As one who loves to dance, I began walking with a cane to alleviate my back pain and help with my balance. It was devastating and my bitterness came across on FB and toward my friends and family. And especially when someone tried to give advice about my pain meds and what I should do.

Thoughts of suicide were entertained – not one of my finest moments. However, by the end of that year, I realized I didn’t like myself. I vowed in 2014 I would change my attitude about my present condition and begin accepting my “new normal.”

3-PATIENCE!

First, you know your episode of pain will eventually ease off with your pain meds. It takes my pain medicine up to 90 minutes to kick in if I’ve gone past the next recommended dosage. However, I stay on top of my pain if my medicine is taken as prescribed. Don’t be a hero! Because you are feeling better and believe you can work longer, your pain will sneak up on you. Don’t wait until it is full blown to rest and take your next dosage. It takes longer for your medicine to take effect and you’ll be miserable.

4-KINDNESS – to yourself and others

Don’t beat yourself up if you have to take a day of rest. The chores will be there tomorrow. Your body comes first and as normal humans, we feel selfish about taking rest periods throughout the day, or even taking a whole day to relax to rest our bodies. Being a “get it done” person, I throw thoughts of unpacked boxes and rooms in disarray out of my mind. I relax and stop worrying. There is no time limit on getting the house in order.

For your family and friends who experience chronic pain, surprise them with their favorite cookies, a small potted plant, or a bunch of flowers on their “low” days. All it takes is a visit to let them know you are thinking of them. When in my lowest mental state due to chronic pain and a friend stops by to visit or phones, it brings me up and helps me forget my pain for a while.

5-Live in the PRESENT

Fully enjoy the moments when your pain is under control or tolerable…while at work, home, or with others. Every second counts when you have these moments so live life to the fullest! Oh, but don’t “over-do!”

You can read Helen White’s full article by highlighting the article title above. She goes into a little more detail for each plan of action and I’m sure you’ll enjoy her writing. She writes “down to earth” and I love a writer who doesn’t infiltrate their articles with words I don’t understand!

Thank you for your patience with this blog post. Over the last few weeks I’ve had a respiratory infection and then to make things just hunky-dory, developed walking pneumonia last week (March 31st to be exact!) Our little house is coming together, but the small extra “bedroom/office” has become the holding station for any unopened box. Ms. White’s article put me to the test because I must rest to get better. Of course, every time I get up I’m back in the recliner because I’m out of breath. The extra room will get done, maybe not as quickly as I hoped, but it will!

Have a wonderful week and please contact me with ideas, suggestions, and questions on future blogs. I’d love to write what you are interested in about chronic pain.

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Chronic lower back pain

Decision Reached – Spinal Cord Stimulator

I’m back! And I made a major decision two weeks ago with my pain management doctor. I told him I wanted the Spinal Cord Stimulator removed from my back. He looked at me intently and asked, “Why?”

Then I went through my list of prepared reasons:
1- it doesn’t work
2- my pain has increased and the SCS isn’t even touching the pain
3- the battery bothers me
4- little strikes of pain are felt along my spine

He smiled and said, “Okay.” The reason for his question, he explained, was most patients begin to give reasons for wanting the Stimulator removed and realize they don’t have a valid reason. The SCS helps them at some percentage (the best results say 50% pain is removed) and they decide to leave it in.

However, with me it’s a different story. The trial for the SCS went great. One lead was inserted in my right side and left in my back for 5 days. I had no pain on my right side. But my left side hurt continuously.

When the right lead was removed, all my pain returned and I knew this was the product for me! Finally, quality of life would return and I would dance again.

Unfortunately, after the implantation of three leads and the battery pack, and numerous reprogramming… my pain has been with me every day since the surgery. In fact, it has increased. I didn’t enjoy the relief I received from the trial. Why? Nobody knows. But it would have saved a heck of a lot of money and discomfort if that darn trial hadn’t work.

I’m not saying it doesn’t work for everybody. Just me. It works for my husband. His SCS gives him about 30% decrease in his back pain with medication. (Yes, even with the SCS most patients take medication to manage their pain.)

I’ve read countless reports of how the SCS “gave me my life back” and I did my research prior to the trial. I didn’t go into this without thorough information. Yet, it didn’t work.

How do you know if the SCS will work for you? First, I would suggest you have the same doctor perform the trial and the actual implant. (It took half a dozen doctors before I found one who agreed to do the surgery due to the instrumentation in my back.) If you have the same doctor do both procedures, and I believe in most cases that is the correct approach, then you’re ahead of the game I played.

Secondly, research, research, research! Talk to other patients who have had the SCS implanted. Try to find people with similar back problems, and ask them a ton of questions.

And lastly, depending upon the Spinal Cord Stimulator Company your doctor uses, go to their website and read the reviews, find out what to expect, and ask questions on their site. Most companies have a patient forum but if you can’t find one, Google – Spinal Cord Stimulator Patient Forums.  These are the ones I found:

http://www.spine-health.com/forum/categories/spinal-cord-stimulation

http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/spinal-cord-stimulator-discussions/general-support

forums.webmd.com/3/pain-management-exchange/forum/2961

http://www.healingwell.com/community/default.aspx?f=16&m=2687933   —  this one came up when I clicked on Boston Scientific Spinal Cord Stimulator/Right Leg
And there are many more forums listed…
As with any medication you are prescribed, you look it up, check out the side effects, and read the reviews before taking the medicine. With the proposal of a Spinal Cord Stimulator, treat it as you would a new medication.
RESEARCH IT!
I’m having the battery pack removed, not the leads because they have adhered to my spine. But when I talk to the surgeon and have the surgery, I’ll let you know how it went. Until then….
Here’s hoping you feel better today than yesterday and even better tomorrow!
God bless,
Carolyn
Posted in Uncategorized

Part 3 – Chronic Pain and Depression

First, an apology. This third part of the series, “Chronic Pain and Depression,” should have been written and posted a long time ago. Unfortunately, LIFE got in the way and I’m just now writing and posting it! There are so many events coming up that have kept me from posting on this blog in the professional manner that I should. Therefore, I’m committing to writing something on this blog at least weekly and then move it up to every day. The next post will give more details about what is going on and how it is affecting my Chronic Pain.

But now, let’s finish our series on Chronic Pain and Depression…

As you begin your relationship with your therapist these are items to consider after your meeting(s). If there is ever a question in your mind about the therapy you are receiving, stop and seek out a new therapist – for peace of mind if nothing more. Your mind will give you warning signals if:

37.  During the session, your therapist answers his phone. (Not professional! This is time you are paying for!)

38.  As you talk about your culture or religion, your therapist throws insensitivity comments your way.

39.  Denying or ignoring the importance of your spirituality is another warning signal from your counselor.

40.  Your therapist tries to push her thoughts or convictions regarding spirituality or religion onto you.

41.  You find your therapist doesn’t empathize at all.

42.  Or, your therapist empathizes too much.

43.  As you talk about your problems, your counselor appears overwhelmed. You begin to feel like you are abnormal with so many problems. Not true! It’s time to start looking elsewhere.

44.  Your feelings or issues make your therapist overly emotional, affected or triggered. 

45.  Against your wishes, you are pushed into highly vulnerable feelings or memories.

46.  Or, you find your therapist avoids exploring your emotional or vulnerable feelings.

47.  Your permission is not asked when your therapist begins using various psychotherapeutic techniques with you.

48.  Without helping you to appreciate and resolve the underlying causes, your counselor tries to get you to exert overt control over your impulses, compulsions, or addictions.

49.  Instead of teaching you coping skills to manage your impulses, your therapist prematurely or exclusively focuses appreciating and resolving the underlying causes you have with an issue or compulsion.

50.  Your therapist is consistently late for your appointment. Signs of canceling or missing your appointment on a consistent basis is another warning sign.

Those conclude the 50 Warning Signs to look out for during your first few appointments with a therapist. Some of these signs may not show up until you are well into a therapy program. When you feel uncomfortable with the lack of progress or the overt pressure you receive from your therapist, ask your doctor for another recommendation. There is no time limit on switching therapists.

It is better to adhere to the warning signs your brain picks up on rather than do nothing and become trapped within your therapist’s expectations or program. You should not be forced into doing anything you don’t feel comfortable doing.

I hope this three-part series has given you some enlightenment and permission to move to another therapist. When I read this article online at GoodTherapy.org it helped me to understand the reasoning behind a family member’s actions. The problem is if your loved one has succumbed to questionable therapy, there isn’t anything you can do about it. It is the person’s choice to continue with the therapist and all you can do is hope he/she will eventually see the therapy given was incorrect.

Thanks for reading and if you know of other “warning signs,” please be sure to let the author know them at the link for Good Therapy.

Carolyn

Posted in Health Care

Customer Relations Management (CRM)

Customer relations management (CRM) is software that uses information technology to help organizations build customer relationships and increase the value of the goods and/or services it provides.  The advantages of CRM include tracking and documenting customer history with instant access to those records, determining the best-selling practices for the organization and analyzing reasons behind customer complaints.

A medical office benefits from the CRM techniques in a variety of ways.  First, gathering complete patient history along with recording every subsequent office, lab and radiology visit allows CRM to track, document and monitor the patient’s information.   Physicians access patient information instantly, enabling effective health care for the patient.  Correct diagnoses facilitate prescriptions, tests and/or procedures for the patient’s care.

Secondly, future occasions of communication with the patient, including phone calls, visits and surveys, are documented and recorded in the CRM.  The CRM monitors the information and suggests support and service practices for the medical office to consider for improving patient relations.  In addition, by responding to the patient’s needs and creating improvements with business practices and services, the medical office effectively attains its performance goals.

Although CRM helps the medical office staff improve patient relationships, ultimately, effective communication is required for formulating the correct diagnoses and care.

Ineffective communication within a medical office however, creates a number of dangers for the medical office and its patients.  CRM offers recommendations based on the input of complete and detailed patient history.  The patient needs to feel he can disclose all pertinent information to the nurse or physician, without judgment.  In addition, the physician needs to create an atmosphere where the patient has no inhibitions expressing his concerns, problems and symptoms.  If the patient feels embarrassed or ashamed of disclosing all information, the physician is unable to properly treat his problem.  Ineffective communication results in the possibility of the patient being misdiagnosed and/or receiving incorrect medication.

Problems occur with ineffective communication among the office staff also.  If an administrative assistant receives incorrect information from a nurse regarding future appointments, the patient may be scheduled for a follow-up rather than a procedure with the physician.  The nurse gives the patient specific instructions, for example, stopping blood pressure medication ten days prior to the procedure.  Because being off the blood pressure medicine is dangerous for the patient, he waits several weeks until he is able to go off the medication again and further delays the procedure.  In addition, the appointment, certified incorrectly for a follow-up with his insurance requires additional time to re-certify the procedure.  The certification process takes hours or days depending upon the type of procedure and insurance coverage. These problems, due to ineffective communication, cause the patient to suffer longer than necessary and cost the medical office in wasted time and money.

The CRM is an important and effective tool for the medical office.  However, it relies on effective communication among the medical staff members and patients in order to offer the medical office assistance with improving patient relationships as well as the value of its services.

Posted in Uncategorized

Part 2 – Depression and Chronic Pain

Welcome Back!!!

As many Chronic Pain Sufferers know, depression attaches itself to the excruciating pain you already suffer through. This occurs for a variety of reasons:

  • you just don’t feel well
  • you don’t feel like going out with friends
  • you may feel abandoned by your friends
  • you can’t do the things you did before the pain became “chronic”

And I’m sure there are many other reasons to spark your depression, but I found these to be the top four that hit me wth depression faster than my pain meds took effect.

We talked about the warning signs of questionable therapy and counseling to look for when you decide to go to a counselor or therapist in Part 1 and we’re going to continue with the next 18 items:

19. Without authorization, your therapist discloses your identifying information.

20. Your therapist begins to tell you the identity of another client.

21. You learn your therapist has never participated in personal therapy work.

22.You find you therapist cannot admit mistakes or accept feedback.

23.Without helping you to change, your therapist focuses extensively on diagnosing.

24.Counselor talks way too much, without giving you a chance to speak.

25.Or, your therapist doesn’t talk at all.

26.Leaving you confused, your therapist speaks in “psychobabble.”

27.Without considering your feelings and somatic experiences, your therapist focuses on thoughts and cognition at your expense.

28. At the exclusion of thoughts, insight, and cognitive processing, counselor focuses on feelings and somatic experience.

29. Acting as if they have the answers/solutions to everything, therapists spend time telling you how to best fix or change things in your life.

30. Your Counselor gives frequent unsolicited advice, makes decisions for you, or tells you what to do.

31.Your dependency is encouraged by your therapist by allowing you to get your emotional needs met from the therapist.

32. Against your will, your therapist attempts to keep you in therapy.

33.The belief factor of the therapist is that only her counseling works and she ridicules the approaches of other therapists.

34.Making you feel uncomfortable, your therapist is contentious with you or may be confrontational.

35.Your counselor doesn’t remember your name or your interactions from one session to the next.

36. Appearing to be in her own little world, your therapist doesn’t pay attention to you, listen to you, or understand you.

I’m sure you will agree these are powerful factors to take into consideration when you are paying your hard earned money to see a therapist for help and guidance. Be sure to print these items out here or go to GoodTherapy.org for the full article. Part 3 is the last blog regarding the warning signs of questionable therapy. After that blog, we will look into the positive signs of therapy.

I hope these series are helping you with your therapy if you are going to a therapist or counselor or if you are considering going to a therapist. And hopefully, you are not seeing any of these negative factors with your therapist.

Take care of YOU, and I look forward to hearing from you,

Taking pain one day at a time,

Carolyn

 

Posted in World Events

Looking for Something Worthwhile to Do?

Check out the RAF!

For many of us living in the United States, the only time we may have gone without water or sewage would occur due to a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, and so on. The Red Cross and FEMA would be called into the areas or states of emergency to help distribute bottled water and provide food and other items of comfort until our homes were repaired or rebuilt. It may take a few months or a few years, but we would go back to living our lives again…with clean water and a sewage system.

In Africa, there are still many families who do not have the luxury of clean water to drink. There is no sewage system in place for their children to go to the bathroom in a clean and safe environment. Open defecation is rampant in Ghana. And education remains to be a needed focus for African children.

But all of these things require money and humans. The Rescue Aid Foundation (RAF) seeks individuals who are looking to expand their vision of the world by making a difference in the world today. Not tomorrow or the next day. But TODAY. The rewards you receive from helping the RAF out in the field will not only change your life, but you will make lifelong friends.

Imagine working side-by-side with others as you show residents of Ghana how to plant a garden. Watch their faces as the plants break through the dirt and they see the seeds they sowed begin to grow. Working in a garden is only one example of the many ways volunteers help “in the field” with the RAF.

Clean water, sanitation, and education are human rights. They are the necessities of living. And yet, in the 21st Century, there are still areas in Africa where children do not enjoy these essentials of life that we take for granted every day.

Posted in Uncategorized

Things are tough….

Things are really tough right now between the constant changing of my pain medicine and now with the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis. I’m having a hard time trying to keep up with diabetes as far as what I should be eating and shouldn’t be eating and I’m not sure the pain medicine I’ve switched to (due to $$$) is helping like I had hoped. So, I’ll be away longer than usual until I can get this worked out.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any suggestions for me, I’d really appreciate them.

Take care,

Carolyn