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How do you accept the pain?

Nicole74NNicole74 Posts: 123
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Chronic Pain
I've had severe neck pain ever since the inital injury when I herniated 3 discs in my neck with moderate spinal cord compression. Many weeks at a time my pain will be unbearable and I'm unable to lessen the pain with ice or medications.

As time goes by after surgery with the pain not lessening one bit, I'm losing hope that my spinal cord will repair itself. The doctors are telling me that this is most likely permanent. I've done every injection there is by ESI's, Nerve Blocks, and diagnostic injections on every level and both sides of my neck and they've all been repeated two to three times each.

Right now I'm very greatful that I'm in a good pain management clinic and we are trying to come up with a plan to lessen the pain. I ran out of options with the interventional medicines and I've done the PT, tens unit, exercises, ect... Right now we are trying to control the pain with medicines, ice and rest. I pray I'll be able to stay with this pain clinic for a long time to come.

I've come to terms and accepted that I will never run again. I use to run 36 miles a week and I've raced in a few triathlons. Exercise was my passion. At this time, I'm able to walk a few miles here and there although it brings my pain up and makes the muscle spasms worse in my shoulders.

Although, I'm praying for a miracle for this pain to oneday stop all together.

How do I come to terms with the pain and accept it? I can't imagine living with this for the rest of my life as I'm only 35 years old.

Along with the neck pain, I have daily chronic migraines too. The daily migraines started with onset of the neck injury.


  • hi i have sent you a PM
  • Sorry for the pain issues. The acceptance wont happen overnight, it takes its own time as your coping skills alow, to rush the process is a step backwards in the long run.
    The hard part is coming to grips with your passions and drives as they are as strong as ever and will continue to do so. but... they can be harnessed toward regenerating the Coping skillset. You are well versed in the good/bad pain outlook and the attendant psychological issues going with them. You could push on through or knew when to not, the adjustment was automatic wasnt it?
    you let the realisation that there were things you could and could not do, now there are things you should and not do, coz the consequences are higher.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    I've been handling chronic pain now for over 30+ years.
    Still to this day I do not accept it. Accepting my pain would be to me like accepting the fact that drunk drivers still kill people. It happens, its hard to change that.

    Instead, I try to manage and deal with my pain. Those that have known me for a while, know I call chronic pain the Beast. Thats because its one of the ugliest, meanest, cruelest things out there. It doesnt discriminate with age, you are never too young or too old, it doesnt care with race, color or creed you are. The Beast is also very sneaky. At times it lays almost in dormant, just giving you enough pain to let you know he is there and then another day, the Beast comes out with full force and basically wipes you off your feet. How can you or anyone deal with something like that?

    Its not easy. All the medications, treatments and other techniques help, you need them all, because there isnt every going to be one single magic pill that will handle it all. But many times, it needs to go beyond the pure medical field. Its easy to see what chronic pain can do to a person physically, but we do not always understand the emotional impacts. They are too numerous to even begin to list here, but all I will say that many times seeing a counselor who knows how to deal with chronic pain patients is worthwhile.

    So, understand the Beast, know it exists and then
    do everything you know how to NOT allow the Beast to beat you. You want to come up on top. One other sure fire way is maintaining a positive outlook. The Beast himself is negative and when he realizes that he is dealing with a positive approach, it makes it more difficult for him to gain control.

    Good luck
    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
  • I can never ever accept the pain or the fact it has stolen away the normality of my life. It is hideous, soul destroying, life altering and unfair. The best I have managed is to attempt to live each chronic pain day as well as I can and not dwell on the fact things for me will only get worse.
  • I'm hoping that as medical knowledge is advancing maybe there will be a treatment or cure available for chronic spine patients. In the meantime I'm hoping my inflammation will just go away and I see as many Specialists and get every opinion I can to deal with this right now. I haven't had surgery but I know it takes a long time for the nerves to regenerate and I hope that happens for you. I'm glad you have a good Pain Management Clinic to help you out. I hope you have less pain soon and prayers for you also. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • To me, pain will always be the elephant in the room that's here to stay. But we can try our best to ignore it when by distracting ourselves with watching tv, listening to music, talking on the phone, doing light chores, going out, etc.

    I was surprised how bad the pain got when I didn't take my Methadone at the same time I always do in the morning. I better not forget again or that damned elephant in the room with me will get bigger and devour me. :D
  • Nicole,
    Accept what, it is right that we mourn the loss of what and who we were, that drives us even in pain to survive, we need to be pro-active as possible in our own improvement and management, pm may help.

    Even if you decide not to accept the pain, those mandated limitations will curtail your capacity with or without your consent, and as has been said, not accepting change creates a positive to find an achievable alternative and that is only appropriate when those expected change is attainable and not just a fantasy. We could live a lifetime thinking this is not fair, and that is correct, but that in itself will not change the pain we endure every day.

    Some acceptance enables us to live within our new restriction; nobody here likes doing or accepting that. To live in complete denial sets expectation of yourself that are unattainable and that constant frustration of not reaching those unrealistic goals we set ourselves, it is a balance of only accepting with a small a, that empowers us to work up to a level of function and no more, squeezing our healthy life into this is not easy, it requires continual planning, goal setting and review.

    In knowing where our stop line could be is only the first stage, we have to get our heads around that is ok, pain looks for any chink of weakness and in Dilauro’s terms lets the Beast in and we should keep it out if at all possible.

    We all had an alternative life before pain and seeing that imposed change before our eyes or even overnight as it seems, is difficult and emotional.

    Many did activities that are now impossible and the key is to find another opportunity and adapt, when those physical limitations become more and more even the basic things now become a problem. Stairs are now impossible and walking increasingly difficult and restrictive, sport was my passion also, I do what I can when I can, waiting for improvement is not an option, this is my 20th years and my own list of who I was now almost gone, the new me has emerged, the healthy me lives in my thoughts in my own head, his is not real just a memory.

    Life is for living, regret is in not trying, we all do well every day to endure our own turmoil and only accept those things that are needed for change and tentative improvement.


  • :H Hi Nicole,

    Yes it's that damned pain that's here to stay. As soon as I adjusted my thinking to that, life got easier. I too was very athletic, not on your level but a gym rat, nonetheless. Don't get me wrong I don't walk around smiling all the time because I'm happy to be hurting, I cry in my sleep so bad that my daughter hears me across the hall.

    It's all attitude. When a group of my friends went cosmic bowling (bowling in the dark to music) I got on my pitty-pot because I was a very good bowler and cannot do it anymore. I've had a spinal-fusion and a host of other problems. But at the last minute I decided to go along and be the coach because half these people didn't know what they were doing, and it was for charity.

    I had so much fun that night. Now every time I kind of stumble to my side, everyone starts singing a line from a Beyonce song "To the left, to the left". I'm tired of being angry and sad all the time and it's nice to be able to laugh.

    It takes time, give yourself a break and keep checking on here, it helps alot. Good luck to you.

    Donna ;)

  • nicole:

    i'm still at a learning stage with my pain as well, & i'm discovering there are processes going on inside me at a fairly deep level that just seem part of the natural process of human healing & recovery.

    for instance, i've noticed lately that i'm focussing less on the daily experience of pain & more on enjoying my day as much as i can. it's like i just got to a point where i realized the pain was going to be around for a while & that i was unhappy being unhappy, if you know what i mean. i've just really set my sights on getting happy again, as much as i can, & enjoying as much of my life as i can.

    this wasn't something i decided, really, although it is now that i've put it on my to do list. you may find the longer you live with pain, the more your spirit rights itself so that you are more like the person you were, just in pain.

    you may discover you really value the physical exercise you CAN do. that's how it's turning out for me. i miss it so much, so what little i can still do i absolutely treasure. my stomach muscles are rock hard, & my back muscles are starting to come back--i take profound pleasure in this. it's the result of exercise & willpower & it's adding to my happiness.

    be patient & kind with yourself. you may find that with time, you become the person you were on the inside, even though you are a person dealing with chronic pain. you may discover smaller, lower-impact ways to exercise that you can fall in love with.

    i think if you are a basically happy person, you will return to that place with time & a little effort. of course all this presumes your pain is basically managed. i wouldn't be thinking like this if i were still in crisis with too much pain.

    i hope this made sense. it's been kind of a surprise to me to hear myself laugh again, to realize i want to laugh & can despite being in chronic pain. i think it's a phase of healing, that probably everyone experiences.
  • You all have some very good points!

    I have come to terms a while ago that I'll never run again. I am greatful I'm able to walk here and there.

    I'm looking foward to the day I'm able to do more other then go between my couch and bed without the ice pack glued to my neck. I love the outdoors and I'm hoping to feeling well enough to make a camping trip with the kids this summer up north. We do the walk in/cart in campsites where it takes up to a 1/2 to set up our tent from the car along Lake Superior.

    My last appointment with pain management was hopeful too. The pain management clinic strives to get the pain down to a 3 on the pain scale. That was very encouraging news.
  • I read your post, but (forgive me fellow members) I did not read the replies...

    I feel like I have come to grips with my overall condition; my limitations as they are.

    My Pain Management doctor just looks at me when I tell her that and she says "You aren't going down gracefully. You're kicking and screaming the whole way!"

    Looking back, I guess she is right. I am my own worse enemy. I do not accept my limitations (well, ok - mostly I give in) I do what I do in spite of myself and pay the price BIG TIME. My husband is always angry with me for over-doing, thereby taking away precious moments we could share somewhere down the line.

    I used to shoot in a pool league. My team went to Vegas for the National Championships many times (we won in our district either first or second place - which included airfare and hotel accomodations). We never won. We were there to have fun (cause that all stays in Vegas). Good times, let me tell you!

    BUT, I quit playing before my pain necessitated it. I felt by doing that, I won. I called the shots. I took SOME control.

    I miss it. I will pick up a cue every now and then. But not for long.

    Billiards. That's what I miss.

    Sorry Nicole - what was the question? Oh yeah - Kicking and Screaming.

    My epitath.
  • I don't use the word "accept" in relation to my pain because to me, it implies approval.

    I coexist with my pain.

  • this continuous pain at all i want to do so much more with my life ..but the pain and lack of sleep prevent me for doing anything,,all i want to do is get comfy on my recliner and sleep if i try to do anything where i have to stand and move it hurts too much so i have not been doing anything apart from keeping warm and comfy ..then i regret the fact that i have lost another day then i don't sleep at night and the cycle begins again ..i was a fit person not that long ago but now i just can't stand doing anything that make me hurt ...so i don't i cant accept the pain ..i thought that i could ..normal people don't realise what we go through i think back pain {at its worst} is a bad as a terminal disease
  • I would more so, label it as endure.

    It simply is what cards we have in our hand. In Jeaux case, balls in the pocket? :?

    Listen to me being all positive and such, very unusual as we have a weather front on the horizon and I fear at any moment a disc or two is going to explode.

    I hope it rains soon, cold, hope it gets cold! I hate cold, but in the past few weeks have found the cold dry air to be less painfull. So, I shiver and freeze, but it hurts less!
  • 50 yrs old. 24 yrs +/- in pain-if you can keep on a good med/pt schedule it will get better. Keep in good graces w/ your clinic-meds and exercise help. have too much going on to list & arthritis getting too hard to type.
    No more monster! Try states & capitals, bike riding. Take it easy-age doesn't usually help-but in your case-who knows? Best of luck ex gymnast
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    Or a play on wording? But acceptance is 90% of the game. And this has been a topic of discussion that most of us have participated in over the years.
    Maybe I should have just passed this one up.
    The only thing that I don't accept is that chronic pain will beat me.
    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!
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    I admire your zest!
    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!
  • Nicole,

    I feel for you. I had my first back surgery when I was 22, been in chronic pain since I was 32. I suggest finding a compentent pain management psychological therapist, yes they exist! Your PM clinic should be able to refer you to one. The hardest thing I've had to learn to do, is nothing without going crazy. I would encourage you to listen to your body, if it hurts stop. I didn't and now at the ripe age of 40 I am very limited. My passion was training bird dogs, and bird hunting, I refused to give it up, the last time I was out with my dogs I ended up in the hospital for a few days on a morphine drip! It broke my heart to give up training the dogs, but I had to. Please allow your body time to heal, and do what you feel like and nothing more. Psychologically/spititually there comes a time you realize this pain is out of your control, and you learn to accept what you can not control.
  • Mike,

    When I was a kid I used to train hounds for rabbits, and when I got my first bird dog I thought that training would be easy. Training a pointing dog versus a scent dog aren't even remotely the same. You know how when you have a hound pup and you turn it loose on a rabbit and it runs it a little, then that turns into more success later, or you just pack the pup with the rest of the dogs. Well putting a pointing pup with an older pointing dog is a disaster. The pup must have its manners long before it can be braced with another dog. Training a bird dog is called breaking, same as a horse. You take that little ball of fluff, and by the time it is a couple of years old it is ready to hunt, but it still isn't a bird dog. A bird dog has to hunt within range, say within a couple of hundred yards from the hunter at all times, I liked mine to stay within 100 yds or in sight. When the dog scents a bird it is supposed to point, which isn't a natural response, the natural response is to chase and catch. So in essence you are taking a dog and training it to be an extension of you. Pointing dog trainers use "Whoa Barrels", chaingangs, lots and lots of birds, it takes at least an hour of so of training every day to turn a pup into a bird dog. It is a lot of work, not to mention trapping pigeons, feeding them, cleaning the kennels, etc. It got to hard telling a six month old 50lb pound pup to whoa (which means to stop right now and not move until I say it is ok) and have it continue. What you do unless you have a check cord, is run the dog down, pick it up at the base of the tail and collar take it back to the exact spot you told the dog to whoa and place it in position. Whoa is the most important command a bird dog has, and that is only one command. A lot of work, the closest thing to compare it to that I know of is an assistance dog. A lot of work and physical demands that I just could not do anymore.
  • Mike,

    I have re-discovered fishing, last year I caught my personal best largemouth 8lb 14oz, the year before I caught my best smallie 4lbs. This year the goal is to break 5lbs on smallies, and if I ever best my largmouth I will be stoked. BTW last year I caught three fish over 7lbs, I am having a ball fishing. As far as hunting, season comes in here when the weather starts turning cold, winter used to be my favorite time of the year, now I endure it. Very weather sensitive and cold weather hurts.
  • Do you have a choice in whether you accept pain? Can you reject the notion? I can't.

  • This question seems to recycle on a regular basis. Normally, I just ignore it and don't comment. How do you accept the pain? My answer is somewhat sarcastic. It doesn't matter whether you accept it or not, it's still there. I can not deny how my legs feel. I'm tired, yet I get every morning and go about living my life. It frustrates me when I read these posts that say "I CAN'T". My mother taught me a great answer to that, Can't never did anything. It's a great motto to live by. I could live a much more comfortable life if I laid in bed all day, but what fun would that be.

  • It is the same thing that gets hashed and rehashed. I agree with those who subscribe to the thought that to accept is to surrender. I live with my discomfort and have no choice in the matter. I refuse to surrender to it. It tries to steer things in different directions from time to time, but as Michael and Dave pointed out, there's generally an alternate route that can be found to most any destination.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you have a stimulator? I thought there were restrictions that go with a stimulator that recommend how deep you can dive and sky diving as an example.

    I'm faced with my own personal daemon in that because of the placement of my stimulator leads, my Doctor is strongly, strongly recommending that I give up playing golf. Now, I'm not some all pro golfer, in fact I actually suck. I just enjoy going out and playing a round. I've been doing a lot of research and it seems these new hybrid irons out there along with some lessons, I might be able to change my swing so I won't pull a wire or something along those lines and still have a decent enough score. So far, my Doctor is giving me tacit approval to proceed.

    It's frustrating, he says no problem to bowling but golf is a problem. Of course he's never seen me bowl.

  • Sorry I missed the other part of your post Mike. I started the local chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society, and we would routinely get together for a training day. The why's as to I don't do it anymore are varied. One of the largest is that guns or dogs either one harvest birds, legs do. The last time I went out I ended up in the hospital on a morphine drip. Physically I am unable to walk to five or so miles daily to hunt wild birds. I still go to a preserve and judge field trials and stuff like that. It comes down to my ethics regarding how I take birds, if the dog doesn't do exactly right, I let the bird fly. I would rather harvest one wild bird than a hundred pen raised birds at a preserve. I still help others when they have problems with their dogs. I also train a lot of companion dogs for people, just basic obedience stuff. Don't take it the wrong way, I do what I am able. As far as hunting I'm fused from c5-c7 and am getting ready for c7-t1, I am not risking the recoil on my neck. For me it is more important to be as healthy as I can for my five year old, be able to take him fishing and introduce him to the outdoors when he gets older. I kept hunting long after my second lumbar fusion, my thought was that the damage was already done. When I was hunting I would pop oxycodones every hour or so, I would take two days worth of meds in an afternoon of bird hunting. One afternoon of hunting required up to a week of bedrest, got to the point I was cheating my family for an activity that was not necessary. Turns out I was still injuring myself, L3-4, and T11-12 both are blown. I have degenerative bone and discs. I accept my limitations and live life to its fullest. Stop hunting was hard, but for the long term it was necessary. My boat is very comfortable for me, although fishing actually flares the pain quite a bit, but I'm not stopping. I have my limits on what I'll give up. I was injured on active duty in the Coast Guard, and am retired from there. I'm 40 years old, four kids, the oldest is 22, the youngest is 5, still got a long way to go, and I need to stay as healthy as I can. Finally my long term prognosis is parapalegia, I refuse to accept that prognosis, so if I "give up" a couple of things to keep the use of my legs it is worth it.
  • One more thing I should mention as well is that acceptance is not surrender. The pain I accept that I can not change nor control it. I do not accept that it controls me. IMO there has to be some type of acceptance to be able to deal with the condition without going into a deep depression. Never surrender to the pain, or limitations. For example when the wife wants to take the kids to Disney, I rent a chair. When I go fishing I take the boat, when I go camping I take air mattresses. There are ways to deal with all of it.
  • I'm curious about this continuing rejection of the word "can't."

    From the posts in this thread, it's considered "surrender" to the pain and/or "giving up" if someone says they can't do something recreational like bowling, going to a movie, or training bird dogs.

    So, why is it acceptable when people declare they can't work anymore, because of their pain? Why isn't there such a dedicated focus on ways to creatively adapt employment situations so that people can continue to work?

    And just for the sake of clarity, I'm not talking about people of standard retirement age (62+) choosing not to work. I'm taking about younger people, say an age range of 30-ish to 55-ish.

  • Inquiring minds would love to know the answer to that question.

    Inquiring Mind (Dave)
  • BionicWoman said:
    I'm curious about this continuing rejection of the word "can't."

    From the posts in this thread, it's considered "surrender" to the pain and/or "giving up" if someone says they can't do something recreational like bowling, going to a movie, or training bird dogs.

    So, why is it acceptable when people declare they
    can't work anymore, because of their pain? Why isn't there such a dedicated focus on ways to creatively adapt employment situations so that people can continue to work?

    And just for the sake of clarity, I'm not talking about people of standard retirement age (62+) choosing not to work. I'm taking about younger people, say an age range of 30-ish to 55-ish.

    Thanks ever so much for posting that! There are a lot of activities I *can NOT* due anymore due to either pain, or sadly more so lack of strength. I fall in your age category for disability retirement (law enforcement and Pilot). I can grab a bad guy great with my left hand/arm, but the right (Sopranos mode on) *fooorgett it!* I don't see that as surrender either, but a sad fact of life. If I fly a helicopter and there is a hydraulic failure - crash! No choices there, CRASH - is that surrender? Noppers, it is a sad state of fact I can't control as the ole body says otherwise. Thanks again!!! :-)

    Misses, bowling, shooting, archery, wall climbing, push ups!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Ditto Dave!!! I love it! I do know we all want a "quality" of life, but isn't work to many just that? I LOVED my job, and now I have to retire under disability. I too LOVED my outside activities (some of which I posted above). I don't think *any* of us should be looked at differently if we can't do something thanks to pain or lack of strength or meds... It would be great if NONE of us ever hurt ourselves growing up, or had bad genes, or dunno...bad luck? I will like most on this site, adjust to what I can do and go from there. The tears where there when all this came to light, now I am good - and adjusting. Take care all!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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