Healing from Chronic Pain

I have been very touched by responses I have received of late to previous blog posts. There are so many inspiring and remarkable people out there and I want to thank those who have reached out and shared their story with me. One great gift of the internet and this type of forum is the opportunity to build community, to connect, share, learn from and be uplifted by one another. Below is a message sent to me recently, and I post it here, with permission, so it may potentially help and support others.

Dear Dr. Spann,
I wanted to share my story with you in case I could help you or anyone. Thanks in advance for your website, work, and time.  You are an inspiration !

Below is an article I wrote for a friend:

“Healing through Pain”

I am 50 and I have been living through 32 years of chronic pain.  As a student nurse, and Registered Nurse, I have had back surgeries as a result of patient lifting and trauma from car accidents.

I have almost always been creative and positive about my steps to healing.

Health for me nowadays is being at peace with my chronic pain and living as full a life as possible despite my pain.

Steps to healing my pain:
I have learned to think of my pain as my inner message.  If I get very still with it I feel what I also call inner massage.  Of course my “nurse brain” would call it spasm.  My doctor would probably call it “spinal nerve root irritation with induced muscle spasm”, or something to that affect.

I love my family doctor who has been a great source of support and help for my chronic pain. But despite loving him, I choose to see him on a rare, as-needed basis only.  I am also happy to have found a primary doctor that seems to be OK with this as well.

The main reason that I rarely go to the doctor anymore is quite a long story. I also no longer need for it to be my life story.  I prefer to enjoy the present.

I also realize that my story might help others with chronic pain, and so I tell it when I feel it is the right time.

I am on permanent disability and often reflect on my life purpose. I now respect my physical limitations and no longer pursue my career other than volunteer opportunities that arise to speak about chronic pain.

I do my very best and have learned to give time and space to allow the perfect choices to unfold. I never wanted to become an expert at the art of doing nothing but am very happy to have learned. The name “art of doing nothing” comes from an article written by a favorite life mentor and friend that I refer others to, regularly.

I have received so much help from her and her specialties of trauma healing, body movement, body psychotherapy, and dream therapy. I initially found her through the internet and her affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of Philadelphia Integrative Medicine Program.  Her name is Sondra Howell.  She now practices privately in Kimberton, Pennsylvania. She also is a Continuum Education Practitioner.

I do dream of and aspire to share more of her work and my journey with it. I regularly tell chronic pain patients, family, and friends now.

The difficulties that I have faced from starting a nursing career at age 20 as a back/spine injured nurse have led me on an unexpected life journey that I am now completely at peace with.  I would not want to choose this path but am happy with what I learn from it.

I am now happy to say that I am in my best disability year. It is the best because I am feeling better each day and when I am not I know how to be at peace with it and wait for better days or hours to come.

The steps to finding healing will be different for each of us.  I have exhausted all that the finest Philadelphia area hospitals have to offer and have been led to balance with holistic, and good common sense, healing.

After many years of having severe side effects from treatments such as prescription medications, physical therapy, and experimental surgery to implant a pain stimulator, I have been forced to use alternative medicine. I respect that there always needs to be a balance to this, and I do have my family physician and emergency medicine monitor me when necessary.

I really feel like I have a huge bag of tools that help me deal with chronic pain and continue to heal.   I use guided imagery, meditation, homeopathic arnica montana, pressure balls that I rest against frequently, a TENS Unit, home hydrotherapy, infrequent use of an alcohol drink (approved by my family MD), breathe work, music therapy,  avoidance of caffeine and sugar, hot packs or ice packs, attendance at a chronic pain support group and the list goes on.  The best weapons I have are keeping a positive attitude and trusting that I have options.

I do hope that anyone that reads this might feel lifted to also see their way to be comforted despite their pain.

If I can be of further assistance please let me know at ebarnett0703@comcast.net

Best Wishes,
Liz Barnett

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