1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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Day 8 Any advice on reacting to pain/anxiety?

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by swandive, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Well I made it through my first week and the pain in my elbows has actually been manageable despite me starting to type again for full work days and use the mouse with my right hand again. Likewise, I've managed a one pound weight lifting session and ceased a lot of automated protective behaviors, like using two hands to carry anything substantial. I additionally stopped the NSAIDS and capsaicin cream, although the lady-friend has yet to express her appreciation at no longer waking up to stinging skin/eyes from bedsheet transfers. Hmph!

    I am impressed with the progress despite my general skepticism and paranoia of multicollinearity driving this week long trend. I swear multicollinearity is like the Voldemort of the chronic pain world. Every time I tell people I tried X, Y, Z to treat the problem, even if they don't ask, I'm thinking, HOWEVER, it's possible X, Y, Z didn't work because I didn't control for A, B, C. And then guilt over the lack of rigor in my serial case studies triggers shame and you know the rest…

    My question for the subforum is how do you deal in the moment with throbbing pain or your heart racing? Re: surprise emotional seizures of ANS, I have tried identifying the emotion and its possible origins, or mindful meditation, but sometimes that just results in me laying there, endlessly breathing “into” the physiological location of the emotion (Spoiler alert: ALWAYS in the heart/chest/throat). Eventually I get bored and just accept that sleeping is out of the question and that work will just have to be accompanied by the autonomic equivalent of tinnitus. Likewise, with the pain, although I tell myself to ignore it and that the origins are not physical movement or position, it’s almost impossible for me to stop shifting, changing what I’m doing, or accommodating the pain. Any advice?

    Thanks for reading.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  2. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    swandive likes this.
  3. Dahlia

    Dahlia Well known member

    I have used a variety of hypnosis-based tools to address this problem. It is amazing to me that these tools are not widely known and used. They facilitate access to the vast resources of the unconscious as well as changing what the unconscious believes to be true. Some people fear hypnosis based on the misunderstanding that it involves letting some else control you, like a stage hypnotist. I mean something else entirely. The ability to flip the mental switch to get out of fight/flight mode and into mindful/meditative mode (this is called going into trance) is liberating. Once in the trance state you can use it for a variety of things, like imagine yourself on that beautiful sandy beach and feel the warm sand and the relaxation seep into your very bones, or you could write a novel or paint a mural. If you were experiencing something unpleasant, imagine how it would feel to know that there is always somewhere else you could go in your mind to change that experience?

    Here's a different approach. The pain/fear/anxiety is a well-worn, deep groove in our neural pathways. So another tool to address the pain/anxiety is a process for building new neural pathways. It is a 4-step process for changing your brain and hence your experience. This process was developed by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D and explained in detail in his book You Are Not Your Brain. http://www.youarenotyourbrain.com/ Although the book does not mention pain specifically as a target for treatment with this method, it does work for pain and anxiety.

    Here's the gist of it:
    Step 1: Identify what you are feeling. Is is pain? Is it anxiety (about pain)? Is it both? Tell yourself, "I don't have to listen to this."

    Step 2: Tell yourself, "These are the brain patterns that I am changing."

    Step 3: Add something neutral or positive to your experience, like listen to music, sing/hum, put yourself in a trance state (focus on a candle flame, watch random patterns in nature), focus on your breathing, focus on your hearing (identify 5 different sounds you can hear right now), focus on the feeling in another part of your body (like the tips of your ears).

    Step 4: Reinforce yourself for interrupting the old pattern. Congratulate yourself on the effort, not the results.

    Some of these skills might take some repetition to learn but the potential rewards are great. I hope something here is useful to you. There are many tools and many paths to achieving your objectives and this forum is filled with ideas. With persistence I am sure you will find the right combination to unlock this pattern in you.

    I wish you deep peace and comfort. I look forward to hearing how you are progressing.
  4. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Thank-you BOTH so much for the helfpful tools and links. With my skeptical perspective on the world, it comforts me to attribute positive changes from some sort of externally directed and validated "strategy" so having clear steps to take through the Claire Weekes and Schwartz links are incredibly helpful and I am excited to look at them tonight after work. Dahlia-- do you have any links or references to suggest on self-hypnosis strategies?
  5. Dahlia

    Dahlia Well known member

  6. swandive

    swandive New Member

  7. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Verbally I say to the pain "cut the crap out. It does not matter what you do or where you move I am not slowing down. " The anxiety will not stop me. The foot pain will not stop me. The wobble knees will not stop me. The abdominal cramping will not stop.

    You can do this Swandive.... you can do this.
  8. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Thank-you Stella! I did find that envisioning hugging and comforting the toddler version of me w/ a bowlcut in 80's gender-neutral colored overalls and ganging up with her against the internal pageant parent/drill Sargent really helped. How interesting that such visualization helped the physical pain....
  9. Dahlia

    Dahlia Well known member

    I have a couple of more ideas for you. Here is a very interesting introduction to mindfulness/meditation. This is the #1 tool for anxiety and pain I think. Even if you already have some experience with this you might find this video interesting. Jon Kabat-Zinn effectively introduced these practices into mainstream medicine. Interesting guy.

    Also, regarding hypnosis: I know that Dr. Sarno said that hypnosis can be effective as a temporary treatment but only a treating a symptom, not the cause. My experience agrees with that. However, in as much as it's OK to take medication when you need it, I think it's OK to use hypnosis when you need it (no side-effects either and it feels good - better than drugs). So in that spirit, I tell you that I used this chronic pain self-hypnosis program that I purchased years ago and I was able to get the pain to stop 100% of the time for at least during the time I was "under". This author is a very reputable hypnotherapist in the UK so you can rest assured it is best quality and professional standards, etc. (More years ago, I used his program to banish IBS - I know: another MBS symptom. I've had a life time full of them.)

    Here is the audio program for pain: http://healthyaudio.com/self-hypnosis/alternative-pain-relief-treatment/chronic-pain/

    Here is his bio page: http://www.michaelmahoneyhypnotherapist.com/#

    I hope that you are doing better and better each day.
  10. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Thank-you Dahlia. I have actually used Kabat-Zinn's CD (I purchased his depression book a few years ago, and I find mindfulness a good strategy when self-talk fails). I agree that it may be a "bandaid" as often I feel better immediately afterward, but am very easily triggered into emotional turmoil/pain again. I am more than willing to try the program--my elbows have actually been very very good, but I haven't gone to the next level of testing out and eliminating triggers--weight bearing exercises, violin etc., so this is a perfect tool to embolden me to go forward. Also I had week with a pretty serious disappointment (unrelated to pain, but definitely resulting in crying under the desk at work--thank god for not working in one of those open-office spaces), and was scared it might trigger something with the pain, but it actually didn't, so I am doing pretty well I would say. Thanks again for checking back in and sending those links along!

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