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Motivation vs chronic pain

jj-from montrealjjj-from montreal Posts: 60
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Chronic Pain
Am I the only one who finds it really tough to get motivated when its difficult to move. The meds make my mind fuzzy, the pain makes me weak, any tricks in motivational ideas
Im trying to keep going forward; some days its like climbing Mount Everest and knowing I will never reach the top. If I let go/give up I will plunge to my demise and all the effort it took just to get to where I am now will be for nothing.
Ideas most welcome

A little back ground;
I’m a 48yrs old male, I have moderate to severe chronic pain everyday of my life for the past10 years,
I was diagnosed with sever stinosis in the neck, severe D.D.D
At 37 I had to have a lamanectomy from C3 to C7 inclusive, do to herniated disc that affected my spinal cord. The doctors have made it very clear that there is real nothing left to try, medically.
Presently I can not feel with my hands, no sensation, I have pain from my head to my toes. I have been on every type of pain medication and all stopped working after a while
Now I take Lyrica and and medical marijuana
(My advice to the world ,” acceptance, never give up, keep your self occupied . get physiological help, just to put things into prospective. Try to smile)


  • Re question #1: No, you are not the only one who finds it really tough to get motivated when its difficult to move.

    Its a mind game of "one step at a time" for me sometimes, set the bar low. I have spinal stenosis so if I can sit for a couple of minutes, it usually enough to help me recharge:
    -I just need to get into the shower, then I can rest a few minutes
    -I just need to get dressed, then I can rest a few minutes
    -I just need to make some breakfast, I can sit for a few minutes

    As for meds clouding your mind - don't have a good answer, everyone's cloudy level is a little different...
  • agree with aimless, set small, achievable goals. then, remind yourself of how many of them you got accomplished in spite of the pain. and know that the only person to compare yourself to is you - you know how much pain you're in, and what a big accomplishment perhaps getting up and fixing a meal is, even if this is easy for a healthy person.

    the other thing that works for me is music. sometimes a really upbeat corny song will completely alter my mindset. for example, and here is the most embarrassing thing I have ever posted here, for me, listening to ABBA works. all of a sudden I am in 7th grade and running out to play after school. I can't explain it.

  • Simply getting a shower, getting dresssed and having breakfast in a routine every day, goes a long way towards feeling motivated.

    Jenny is right about small accomplishments each day.

    Baby steps are huge leaps in the world of chronic pain.

  • That's how it's been for me. It's like you're able to do something one day, then later on you pay- at night or the next morning. Sometimes I need a sense of accomplishment, even tho I know it will increase the pain. I have days that I feel like nothing, a loser, a burden, just taking up space.
    Motivating yourself is hard, but take baby steps with what you do. And congratulate yourself for doing it. If you have a bad day, think Tomorrow's another day.
  • Let me start off by saying that I am by no means a motivational speaker :$ ,and it is a challenge for me..but I think that even healthy people that don't have pain get bogged down with that.

    I like what was mentioned about the baby steps and small goals..maybe that's my problem.I'm always making these huge lists that include having a yard sale and painting/scrubbing walls,steam cleaning the carpet & furniture-not much on that list has been crossed off lately.Not since July.

    The only thing that I can add here is try to remember that it's not Mt.Everest,and it really doesn't matter if you reach the top anyway,as long as you're on your feet and moving forward.
  • I too have some serious motivational issues, especially when my pain is at it's worst or I'm having a flare up and am seriously lacking energy. But when I read what the other's here on the board force themselves to do, even if it's just getting to the shower, that helps to motivate ME. If you want motivation, you've come to the right place to find it! It actually makes me feel better just knowing that I'm not the only one who lives like this, like a mole or slug. Not that I'm happy that anyone else is in pain of course, that breaks my heart. But knowing that the others who are in pain face the same difficulties that I do. I guess that I always figured that everyone else just went on like a "normal" person. And BTW, I loved the story about the Abba music and I don't feel that "Chicagogal" should be ambarrassed at all by that admission. Some funky tunes always make my step a little lighter also! Who can sit still to a little Van Halen, Rolling Stones, or even some really great Country music? Not me!
  • what motivates me is the fact i have to work and pay the bills. i would like to stay at home but unfortunately work and taking care of my family are priorities and sitting around in bed would drive me nuts. i am not on workman's comp or any disability. the only time i was out was when i had my last surgery. i had to attend a conference for a week so i had to have my dr exit me early or i would not have a job at my school. they would have moved me and put me somewhere i did not want to go. these are things that motivate me. i am also in pain all the time every day. i have to work for 4 more years so i can retire at 65.

    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,714
    I have to say that there is some type of motivation in everything I do now.
    35+ years when it all started, I didnt know better to think towards the future, 20 years ago, I figure I could overcome anything, 10 years ago, I started to smarten up.
    Now, I know what I have to deal with and I try to find some get up and go in everything I do.
    If its working out in the garden, if its writing some new code, if its visiting friends, or even making the posts that I do here.
    As "C" and Jenny said, dont go for the big one first. Take small if necessary baby steps and then build on that.
    Make sure you have a sound foundation on which to build and then from there go forward. Without having the solid base, manytimes as we venture on in our spinal chronic pains we might fall and it gets tougher to get back on tract.

    That my internal motivation.

    Externally it is so much easy. I want to grow old with my wife, I want to see my children have children . I want to enjoy my family every single day.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • One step at a time and a plan... like today I will be showered and dressed by 8am, I will do this or that chore...etc. BUT, if I need to break away from the plan, you know what, I won't be arrested, or put in front of a firing squad. Right now I'm not working outside the home, so if I need to rest, I do it. And everything's ok. That has been my biggest motivation, everything will be ok. Acceptance of what my body is dealing with, that was a difficult thing for me, but once I started to accept it, I was able to let myself do what needs to be done to feel better. Like rest, sit in the hot tub ,let the yardwork go an extra couple days,cook a frozen pizza for dinner, take a nap. I can now do this without feeling guilty. I can't do what I used to do,but I don't have to do it either. So my motivation is like everybody else's on here, make a plan,set some goals, and be reasonable with yourself.
    I get alot of help by reading what everyone on this site are going through,lot's in worse shape than me!Hope you feel like taking on the world ! Have a good day
  • Hi JJ, like the others say, make a plan. Mine is:
    6am get out of bed.
    9am walk the dogs.
    9.30am rest.
    11 am brother takes me out in car.
    1pm return home and rest.
    6.30pm have dinner.
    8pm rest in front of TV.
    12am get ready for bed.
    sometimes I am fairly active within my daily routine, shopping, walking etc.sometimes I rest and sleep excesively. However sticking to the times I have set myself, does on bad days give me targets to meet.
    Keep on in there. Tig.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,714
    Roller Coaster ride! Anyone that has dealt with chronic pain fully understands about the 'good' days and the 'bad' days.
    Most of the time we know what happened to cause a bad day, but to this day I am still trying to figure what I did to have a good day!
    Sometimes if you are on a streak of good days, just beware, do not become over confident. Still remember your condition and limits. Over the 35 years I have had one too many flare ups as a result of over doing something because I was on the upward swing of the roller coaster.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • :) hi! motivation is an ongoing problem. i have been a chronic pain patient for over 40 years and still face that problem most every morning, unless i have set goals for the day. i know how difficult it is to even make plans alot of days. even with our limitations i have found there is something i can accomplish most every day. if i am in bed for the day, my goal is to rest and get myself better for tomorrow. I) even the smallest thing can be set up as a goal! when i have a good day i can get alot done! =D> so really, making a plan gives me motivation to go on. having goals to shoot for each day makes that day worth getting up and living!! <:P the feeling of accomplishment can make any day a good one. Jenny :)
  • Hey all,

    I have to work at having enough motivation to get my work done at work. #:S And, 3/4 of the time I'm able to come up with a sufficient amount of motivation to accomplish the necessary, expected amount of work. The problem is, even though I've lived with chronic pain for more than 9 years, I'm not able to do now what I was able to do even 2 years ago. One failed surgery last year and now with L5-S1 rubbing each other (dr. appt. next Monday), I just can't focus like I used to and have very little energy some days. I'm sure my boss (who's been pretty good about this) is wondering what happened to me. I just can't "do" the volume of work that I used to do in the time I used to get it done in. :S I feel like I'm letting him down and myself down as I've always equated my self-worth with my work. I've been a dynamo--but now I can't even push the trash bin out to the street. Is anyone else experiencing this? If so, how are you handling the mental side of this--the decreased lack of ability to complete volumes of work? I used to come in early and stay late and take work home but I mainly work 8-5 now with a break for lunch--I'm sure my kind boss is wondering what's going on. I will say that he notices my bone-crunching pain--yesterday he even asked me if didn't I have some pain meds I could take. I thought that was sweet on his part to notice. It takes 2 Vicodin to touch this pain and I can't take that and function at work. So, I take one and get by.

    Any suggestions on handling the mental side of this would be great! :|
  • for me (and only me) i find gratitude and tryng to keep a good attitude are really important. I am alive so I stand a chance. For the last 4-5 months I have been spending obscene amounts of time at the hospital and from it I have been given so much. I see the small children and there parents and for me how lucky I am to have the 45 years i have. While I deal with pain daily, and some days are really horrid, they are still days. Also recently facing possibly the end I finally realized just how lucky and perfect my family is.

    Even with all the issues, This is my family,
    So don't mean to sound like a fruit cake but I am learning to giggle and lighten up and go with the flow. have had to learn to bend and twist. My expectations are lower, but i still have them. And here at least we are not alone.

    good luck finding what your looking for. It could be right in front of you?
  • what kind of work you do, but just remember, even if back won't cooperate, you still have a mind and a personality. In my industry, I know alot, and that information is valuable. And of course, the way that information is passed-on.

    I have gone back to work since my failed fusion and extruded graft. I was up front with the guy and honest about what I couldn't do (physical labor). He hired me and we were supposed to have 6-week evaluation....He didn't bother.

    It sounds like you have a very caring boss and you are worried about what he thinks. Ask Him. That way, you can quit worrying and trying to push yourself beyond your limits. Take care.
  • JJ,
    The progression of our success is not the same measure we once used and surviving itself is sufficient and ample on some days, we are mandated to use those windows of opportunity and as has been said some days you win and others you loose.

    Part of this is in what and how we succeed and our imposed limitations make the possibility of doing what we may have done previously, maybe now impossible and destined to failure from the start if we choose that option.

    It is about the smaller things making up the bigger picture, I have achieved mammoth tasks changing into smaller more achievable gain over a longer period, some of this we have to accept as part of the process. Our effort now is disproportionate to the strength needed at times to do the simplest of tasks and we should acknowledge and encourage ourselves in what we achieve every day.

    Some regression in how we used to perform is sometimes our personal measure and we are now different people who achieved at that time, our motivation is never waned by our condition and inside we are the same people as before, perhaps not as active but none the less driven to success in spite of the pain we endure. Some days are rubbish, not many could do what we do every day, day in day out, and at times it can be frustrating and upsetting.

    Keep trying and have a plan it is only a blueprint and can be changed and adapted if necessary, I have just read the book a motivated mind, we do and will continue to achieve, onwards and upwards.

    Take care John
  • Some days I feel so comfortable in bed I don't want to get up wondering if my day is going to be same, worse or better than the yesterday. The idea is to make it even better than yesterday no matter how hard it may be. It's nice to have a surprise and have a good one out of the other 30 days of the month. All we can do is keep trying and say an occasional prayer throughtout the days :X
  • Wow, I can't believe the response to your question JJ! what good advice. I have been feeling so alone with my lack of motivation. I'm a type A, goal oriented personality. Motivation had never been an issue for me. Now, like you, it is.

    I totally agree with setting "realistic" goals and takng small steps towards achieving them. It's hard when our mind says we should be able to do all the things we used to. Reality is, we can't and need to accept it. I'm learning to let some things go (like having a perfectly clean house and immaculate yard. It's hard enough for me to get all my work done at work let alone home. I've had to ask for help from my husband and sons (who are grown and out of our home.) I hate having to depend on others to do what I used to do myself. At the same time....boy am I thankful that they are all cheerfully willing to chip in ;)

    Being grateful for what I have and can do is a big help. I'm also looking at changing hobbies to something that causes less pain. As hard as it is to give up horseback riding....I'm kind of excited about a new stage and finding something new that my husband and sons will love doing with me!

    Goals, Small steps, count your blessings and have a positive attitude. (And yeah Chicagogal....upbeat music is a godsend!)

    Good luck JJ and everyone!
  • Motivation Tips

    Set your goal, time, duration and timetable
    Track your progress
    Get some resources
    Tell everyone
    Make it part of your routine
    Evaluate, why this goal
    Learn from failure
    Find a role model
    Look into the future
    Give yourself a break
    Get some support

    Take care and be kind to yourself.

  • JJ, I really appreciate your sharing, just as I appreciate all the advice offered, especially in regards to acceptance.

    I am having tremendous difficulty with motivation and guilt. When I lost my job in May due to missing so much work, I took it hard, but tried to look at it as a sign that things in my life needed to change. I thought of all the wonderful things I could do now that I would have so much free time. The fact of the matter is that I have to push myself each day just to do the dishes and one or two other household tasks. The worst part for me are the days when I wake up energized, raring to do, only to be doubled over in pain five minutes after starting a project.

    I am trying to accept that keeping a somewhat decent home and raising my 5 year old is sufficient work for my drug addled brain and pain ridden body, but the financial side of things is a different story alltogether and my well-meaning supportive family members all are of the belief that I could just go work at a fast food restaraunt if I really wanted to. It is very hard for me right now, thus my searching and finding this forum.

  • wow - so much good advice - this site really is invaluable for people suffering back pain on a daily basis.

    Miss Piggy - I know what you mean - mostly for me getting motivated to get out of bed is the hardest thing worrying about what will be happening in my body. I live on my own and so there is no other reason for me to get up except myself.

    As a woman the thing I make sure I do EVERY day is put my make up on. It sounds silly but I find doing that really makes me feel like I am ready to go outside for a walk or whatever. I also feel more attractive as a person too. /:)

    also I started physio recently so I make sure I do my exercises to give my day some structure even if they do hurt!

    It really is tiny steps like everyone says - and accepting some days will be better than others

  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,728
    jj. If you happen to get one that's not. Don't let it bother you. Ignore it.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • To get out of bed. To go to work, when I've barely slept 4 hours. To go for a walk when my feet are "on fire" and each step excruciating. I think that takes courage. We should all be very proud of ourselves, that we're hanging in there, fighting the good fight. I don't know that my husband would agree that I am courageous. I think he would say that I whine a lot. But it is so, so hard. And yet it could be worse. I hurt my back playing tennis---obsessively (and with a bad ball toss on my serve.) Next summer, I've agreed to teach wheelchair tennis because I can walk and because I know helping others is a good way to also help myself. I don't play tennis anymore. I don't do most of the things I used to do. I feel scared by my so-so life performance. That makes me, I think, even more courageous.
  • I agree with you that it takes courage and a heck of a lot of it too! What I have seen though, is that if a person admits that they've done something courageous or have courage, then they can't feel sorry for them self or their situation. Hence you won't hear many people talk about courage. It's very unfortunate.

  • I feel sorry for myself. Plenty. I don't think courage and self-pity are mutually exclusive--or maybe they are. Maybe, I alternate between the two or maybe I feel sorry for myself and philosophically realize that all of this makes me courageous even though I'm not feeling courageous.

  • jj- Interesting topic. I am trying to figure out how to motivate myself. I tried the making a list. I find that I keep adding to the list and then I can hardly do 1 thing as the list is too long. I then tear up the list or lose it in the piles of paper and mail I have scattered around...sigh.. :/ jade

  • It isn't ever easy. Some days it isn't even possible. But most days, it is at least a fair attempt. For me, the reasons are always the same-Cameron-who is pushing the age of 16, Jeffrey-became a teenager this past April & Ryan-the baby, who at 10, isn't such a baby anymore. Sure, they are of the age now that they can get by & take care of themselves on the many days I am bedridden with pain, tears trickling from my sleep deprived eyes; but at the same time, they still need motivation themselves. The kind of motivation that can only come from their mother. This is what gives me my biggest source of motivation-if it weren't for these precious children of mine, I don't believe there would be any motivation within me at all. That's not to say that those of you without children can't have the same powerful motivation, it's just what motivates Tanya. Many of you have spouses or significant others who are motivaters in your lives-I don't have either of those, therefore my motivation lies mainly on my boys. I have to be the one to ensure their needs are met-that they have clothing, food, heat in the cold months, a bed to sleep in, shoes that fit. I have to ensure they are doing their best at school and that their homework gets done each day. Sure they can shower and dress themselves. They can find something to eat without me having to make a meal every single time. Yes they can feed the cat, wash their clothes, put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder. But if I don't supply the means to do these things-making sure the fridge and cupboards aren't empty, ensuring there is soap and shampoo in the shower, extra t.p. in the cupboard, cat food in the closet-they wouldn't be able to survive. This is what motivates me the most-making sure that my sons have the very best of everything available to them and the support behind them to achieve their own goals.

    Are there days that I feel I have no motivation at all? Certainly. And sometimes I don't even want to be motivated. I'm sure we all have those days. But I know deep inside that if I am to ever get "better", I must keep putting one foot in front of the other. It doesn't have to be an olympic marathon-even moving at a turtles pace is still moving. The goal is not in how fast we can get there, it's simply getting from point A to point B...period.

    The other thing that motivates me is knowing that there are other people in this world that have it worse than me, and that those people need help! If there is something I can say or do that might help someone else, I feel it is my obligation to do it, or at the very least, to TRY. And when I am feeling my worst-when it hurts too much to get out of bed, or get in the shower, or make meals, stop crying, etc. I do make it a goal to help at least one person with something before the day is over. Sometimes I can only give advice to a dear friend, other times I can come to a place like this and maybe help several people that are facing what I've been thru-to steer them through avoiding the many mistakes I have in hopes that they won't end up some day where I am today. And maybe doing so won't get me out of bed that day, but it might stop the tears, or better yet, put a smile on my face and a happy feeling in my heart. That, to me, is motivational.

    One thing that I have struggled with over the years is Faith in the Lord. When I'm at the right place in my faith, it can be extremely motivational, but admittedly I'm not always in that place. Often times I can find it difficult to have faith when it feels like nothing ever goes right and my future looks dark. But if I can just pick up that Bible, or re-read "The Purpose Driven Life", or say a prayer, it almost always shines a light at the end of the tunnel and lightens the burdens I feel in my heart.

    Jade2~I used to feel like you every day! It's often so overwhelming to see that list and think "I can't ever get all of those things done" and just toss it away. Now, I am a type A personality and my life is run by lists that I have made. What has helped me is instead of trying to push to accomplish everything on the list in one day, or one week, etc., is to simply cross things off as I have accomplished them and continue plugging along at the rest. Once I've acheived all, or most, of them, then I make a new list and start over the same way. I keep it hung where I can easily reference it and be motivated by it. I look at it every day, or even multiple times a day, and I do what I can do without worrying when I'll get to the rest. You don't have to set a time limit to the list, you just have to set your mind to keep at it, one task at a time. I find this gives me a greater sense of accomplishment rather than feeling I'm a failure as I used to do. I have a "someday list" that is miles long, but I just keep at it one task at a time, and sooner or later I will have completed the list! I hope that you are able to try to tackle your list in the same way I tackle mine. :)

    I think the most important key to motivation for any of us is simply in not giving up trying to find it. When we constantly seek ways to become motivated, eventually we will find motivation once again, and at that point we've put one foot in front of the other again.

    Good luck to each of you in finding what motivates you, and accepting that not every day will be a productive one-nor does it HAVE to be. Often times the most productive thing we can do for ourselves is to rest. We can always try again tomorrow.

    Always remember to take care of you.

  • John said:

    Some regression in how we used to perform is sometimes our personal measure and we are now different people who achieved at that time, our motivation is never waned by our condition and inside we are the same people as before, perhaps not as active but none the less driven to success in spite of the pain we endure. Some days are rubbish, not many could do what we do every day, day in day out, and at times it can be frustrating and upsetting.
    John, thank you for posting this entire post on the 16th (I only quoted part of it). It really really touched me, and I read it to my husband.
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