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Transition from Physical to Emotional Pain

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Matters of the Heart
This is a topic that I have discussed many time with my wife, some of my doctor friends and the therapists where I go from my Aquatic therapy.
For the most part, when you require spinal surgery, your doctor (Neurosurgeon or Orthopedic Surgeon) talks to you about the surgery, the recovery process, etc. Then they go in and do their work. The prescribed their view of allotted pain medications and write a script for some Physical Therapy.
But for many of these doctors, that is the end of their relationship with you as the patient.
To me that is wrong and needs to be revamped. When you first have surgery and are in the beginning stages of recovery, the concentration is on your pain and getting back to some form of normal life. People around you can see you are in pain, either by your face, a cane, a neck brace, a back brace, etc.
Now after a while all those physical signs of evidence disappear. People can no longer look at you and say
Oh, I know that person just had spinal surgery
Instead many of us have to climb into a dark hole because many others dont know what we are going through. We look normal!, therefore we should act normal?
A post made by Lisa the other day really struck a chord with me because it does speel out things clearly. Unless people, even children can see the physical pain you are in (canes, etc) it many times goes un-noticed.
Now here is where I believe some parts of the medical field have failed us. They can address all the physical aspects of what is going to happen, but what about the emotional part? What about the stress, the tears, the feeling of hopelessness, where does all of that come into play?
Many surgeons never get to see their patients at that point.
So who should be helping here? Is it up to us? Maybe yes, but that means we need to recognize a problem and then finding just another doctor to address this. Why couldn't the original doctor realize this? After all they have done so many surgeries and the post surgical trauma is nothing new. This may sound very cold, but it was straight from a surgeon I know... Yes, this is a problem, but its not mine! I did my job, someone else has to do theres!
So it seems like its our job to fix ourselves from the emotional turmoil we may be going through. Thats like telling a drug addict to understand their problem and deal with it.
I dont have an answer and I am sure that many of these things boil down to money.
Wealth maybe nice, but I would take Health over that any 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


  • What a great topic to bring up PapaRon. I beleive this very topic is what brought me to spine-health and this is where I go to work on the emotional aspect of it. My pain mgmt doc is not a good people person, my surgeon and primary doc don't understand cuz like you said they did the surgery so I should be fixed.

    I'm sick of getting asked by friends and family when/if I'm going to go back to work and "what's wrong with me anyway?" I get sick of explaining it. My family still doesn't understand why I don't want to do certain things that would require a lot of walking or sitting on bleachers or why I didn't have dinner ready or the house cleaned at a certain time. They get sick of hearing that my back hurts so I just don't say it anymore.

    My primary doc has suggested I see a therapist. I don't have the time or money. I know what's wrong, I'm in pain and have a hard time getting support from family and friends around me. I'm 31 and not able to do the things I used to. Then I feel bad for feeling bad cuz their are so many others out there that are far worse off than me and I should be greatful for what I have and thankful that I'm alive and able to enjoy my kids.
  • Physical pain transfers over to many other forms as it screams for a way to get out.

    The thing is this, in order for us to be "healed" and I figure that pain reduction so we can live life, is healing, is the goal that we are working towards, it makes sense that our Dr need to be involved and encouraging for us. Some are good, some not, that happens every where! We must look after ourselves because it is with that strenght that we can feel better. Leaving all of the power in the Dr;s hands to FIX us is taking a real back-seat strategy to health care. We must be responsible for our own care on some level, as much as we can, for ourselves.

    It is the hardest thing to do, to be informed and thinking about my care all of the time and challenging my own beliefs to ensure that I am doing as much as I can for ME. Cause I have to live with myself, I only have 60 minutes at most a month with my Dr. I have 168 hours per week with me and my thoughts. To leave him/her in the driver seat for my care is sad, I have to live it, they only have an opinion and we all know that everyone has an opinion and another body part too.

    Our minds are the most powerful thing in our own care, they can heal us and when I get into a negative spiral, it can hurt me fast. Thank heavens that I dont fall into that very often! But I need to keep a guard against that as well.

    Looking after me is the hardest thing, but it must be done on a daily basis, for me to feel better!

    Cheers - David - I will be back to edit as I think about this more.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    You are just one poster who actually comes out and says it is UP TO US... We cannot allow our futures, our lives to be in the hands of a doctor. They may been thinking what is the best for us, but who knows better than us?
    Our minds, gosh, when I saw it I was just about jumping in my seat. Yes, we have the most powerful tool available to all of us, if we decide to use it.
    Thats our own minds, our brains our thinking capacity.
    I think there is very little that we can not solve as human beings. But we have to want to solve it to start with.
    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
  • yes great topic.
    we live in an age of specialists. surgeon, neurologist, pm dr, psychologist. some surgeons tell us its all in your mind. some do their thing and thats it. i guess the psychologist is the only one trained to help our thinking. most insurance policies provide some benefits for this service.
    three years ago when i was deep in depression from surgery and spine infection the hospital psychologist helped quite a bit. thats their job. of course there are many other avenues to help you cope. physical exercise is supposed to be as good as drugs. talking with friends helps. participating in this web site helps. you cant believe how important this site is for people to retain their sanity.
    but the ultimate control of our thinking is ourselves. we are responsible for keeping our minds headed in the right direction. this requires initiative. we need to push ourselves. nobody does it for us.

  • Eh - Pete gets a star too! LOL - I have watched my own self walk this path for a long time. I know that you and Pete and many more have too, walked long paths with lots of pain and not much for answers at times.

    I never like to say this, but all of us are going to drop into comparison mode, for just a second and when we are there, we are hopelessly engaged in trying to figure out "why me!?", or all kind of other self-destructive mind games that we play with ourselves. The more research I do into the brain and how it works and how pain works in the body, the more I am convinced, that our bodies can lessen the pain, over time. It must be with a level of Meds that takes our mind away from the pain. But as time goes by, control that the brain has over this, I think, begins to start over. I still have pain, but I also listen to it much better. I made deals with it, because I want to do something and I take a short-cut and I pay for it. But looking back over the last 3 or 4 years, I have seen a marked reduction in pain. You see, I am on meds that do not allow me to be medicated on a round the clock basis. Yes - they are ER, but straight Morph drops you down each 10 to 14 hours. So you get to "Feel" how you are doing every day. Yes-that is my "groundhog" day, but every day, I get a chance to know how I am doing. Somedays, my body is telling me that there is no way, that I should do anything and I listen, cause I have years of not listening and paying for it! So for me - It still comes back to learning to listen to my body. I must engage brain, the minute that I wake, because I almost crippled myself one morning, so now, I know that I must go through that check list, each and every morning, so I can do what I want for the rest of it!

    As Pichard kept saying, "ENGAGE"
  • I can only speak for myself, but I know that I look to the docs for validation for my pain. I don't know why it matters to me so much but it does. Maybe it is the lack of support I get from my family especially when it comes to taking meds for my pain. If I have a doc saying that I do have something wrong and that taking my meds might help me function better through out the day then I am validated in saying my back hurts or for not doing as much as I should have that day. Does any of this make sense?

    Ultimately it is up to me how I am going to deal with my pain and daily challenges I face.

    Ok, I'm starting to ramble, it's getting close to bedtime for me lol.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    is that you explain your problem, whats going on and you are not afraid or embarrassed to say where some of your support system has failed you. And your are humble enough to ask for help.
    I like those traits
    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
  • This is a great thread, because as has been pointed out it falls on our shoulders no matter which way you slice it. If you take the stance of using the mind as a powerful tool, then it's on us. If you take the stance of the doctors shouldn't be letting us down, it's still on us. It's a choice. We choose to deal with this in a way that is unique to each of us.

    You know me, I'm a fighter and refuse to give up or give in. I could see right away that the surgeon's place in the food chain, is to fix the physical problem and then move on. So if there's more to contend with, I had to contend with it or find someone else to help me contend with it. Ultimately it fell to me. No one else knows what thoughts and emotions I am dealing with at any given moment. I certainly do though, so I have to find a way to deal with it.

    Ming I can understand the need for validation on one level, but on another I just don't "get it". That's me though and you need to do what it takes to make you feel okay. So if it is by getting validation, then by all means find a way to get it.

    Ron, you also brought up the outward signs of our spine problems. Canes, braces, etc... For me, one of the biggest motivators, was the need to be seen as normal again. I may hurt like crazy, but as long as no one can see it, then I feel I have accomplished A LOT!

    Anyway I have no idea what the future holds. I just hope that I can maintain the same attitude about life and how to deal with chronic pain, for as long as I can!

    Great thought provoking thread.

  • C, to me, having unbearable pain and hiding it so noone sees it, is not much of an accomplishment but a terrible burden. i am sorry you feel you cannot show signs that you hurt to others.. this must cause such a terrible strain on your mind and body! perhpaps one day, you will find, that it really does not matter so much what others think of us and using a cane or a walker or even a TENS unit does not make us abnormal but merely in need of some help. Jenny
  • I feel as if I have accomplished an incredible thing by appearing normal. I do not feel that it is a burden, as a matter of fact, I feel it is a tremendous victory. I know it's there, my husband and docs know it is there, but to be able to interact with others without them knowing how broken up I am, is an incredible uplift. I "feed" off of their reactions. In fact most of us do. What I don't want to feed off of, is someone treating me like I'm disabled. The power of suggestion is a mighty drug, and I don't want it to be a "sedative". The underlying theme in so many posts that I read on Spine Health, is "I want my life back". Well by appearing to be "normal", I have been able to gain a lot of my life back.

    So in one respect I don't really care what others think. The exception to that is when it comes to "looking in the mirror" of their eyes and their reaction to me. I don't want to see the reflection of someone who disabled by chronic pain. I just want to see "me".

    Thanks for the sentiment Jenny.

    I am "free to be me" and I think I will do what I can to keep it that way.

  • I agree with the concept of this thread. I am currently having a LOT of issues. Mostly related to what appears to be bipolar II. I have been doing some extensive reading, who really knows what to believe? But, anyway, 80% of what I read about BP II, my mind screams, "that is what I have been doing for 30 years".

    So, what I get from the people who seem to have mastered the emotional side of this is both a sense of awe and jealousy! You see, right now, I fail at thinking I am ok. If, I find that place it is fleeting.

    I honestly do believe that we can think ourselves past many things and remain up beat. Having the knowledge that this is possible is akin to knowing that nuclear warheads do exist....But, I don't currently know how to build one!
  • I too needed that validation from the Dr, to acknowledge that this was something real. My gosh, I had been told for 25 years, that there was nothing wrong with me, to the point were I had been pretty angry about it and used language that I reserve for special people. I got it from two persons at the same time, ER and they presribed meds to control it and then the pain clinic, where they sent directives back to my PCP on how to handle my case. The first directive was to control my pain and that not only was it real, but because you[my PCP] had not treated the pain for 10 years, he had made the case much worse.

    Family have many ways of trying to control us. I have a sister who had issues with addiction and she was giving me the hebegbees once she heard that I was on meds.

    My parents had watched me hobble around after every bad episode for years and they saw how I was doing after getting meds. My mum hugged me and told me that I looked much better. Her comment to me was, "they don't live with pain, I have watched it on your face all these years and now you seem better, I dont care what it is, just use it when you need to.

    I trust you feeling well!
  • As Paparon stated, I'm not afraid to say how I'm feeling even if it embarrasses me or I have to expose my personal life. I am 100% upfront and honest in hopes that I many help someone else through my suffering.

    I do see "C's" point though. I do use a cane at times and had to today but really didn't want to. The days I don't have to use it, I do feel a little better about myself. When I have to use my cane, I don't want people feeling sorry for me. "C" you are incredibly strong and such a fighter.

    Most of us that suffer from chronic pain also struggle with some form of depression or feeling of not being normal. Don't feel out of place Wrambler. Some days I think I have this all figured out and how I am going to handle all this in a positive way. The next day I may be curled up under the covers unable to get out of bed due to pain and depression. I think we would be "un-normal" if we didn't have these feelings at least once in a while no matter how strong we are.
  • I'm glad that you have the support from your family. My father is in a wheelchair due to lower back issues and now can't walk. He has never taken a narcotic for his pain. He tells me this all the time. No matter how much I am hurting, my family does not understand or agree with me taking pain medications. Even my husband is strongly against this. I fight constantly with my husband and my father over this and try to explain that it helps to atleast make the pain tolerable and that my situation is not the same as my dad's. They can call me a wimp or drug addict all they like and maybe I don't have the pain tolerance that they do but is it likely that they don't suffer the same exact debilitating pain that I face 24/7? Especially, my husband, how would he know what he would do in my situation unless he was there??
  • Your last sentence is so true! They do not live, with our pain, they do not feel the bones rubbing together, the nerves getting pinched so hard, that my hamstrings lock in spasms, my shins feel like they have been hammered and my foot has been smashed with a sledge hammer. My right leg has about 60-70% strength of my left, which is why I favour my right leg all the time and walk with a limp, because it does "let go" sometimes.

    But I do have to "LIVE" with this and that means finding ways to control the pain. Lord knows that I would stop using meds the second after this stuff left me, were I to have a miracle cure. Reality is that there is none, I learn every day, how to use all kinds of things to control pain, from keeping hydrated, to eating well and consistently, to exercise and all kinds of other things that help in little ways. But at the end of the list, is the meds and they - for me - MUST be part of my solution. Without them, my blood presure is 30 points higher, my body does not move well, it only rents food for a very short time and creates real nasty issues for me. [I thought I was lactose intolerant, until I went on meds and became a "regular guy", LOL. I have what can only be descibed as a 24/7 FLU. I never knew when I was sick, I always felt "sick".

    Now - I know when I am sick, I have the symptoms that match the illness, -That is a switch!

    Yes - I understand too, as do many others! Hugs - hope things are better for you this weekend!
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