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Trying to stop being my own enemy...

DedalusDDedalus Posts: 92
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Pain Management
Ok, I am trying to figure out how to write this with getting flamed.

I don't like doctors and I like pain docs less than most. Now this "dislike" has gone to new levels lately. When I try to call a doctor's office, I get stressed... my heart jumps around in my chest... I get tunnel vision and dizzy... sometimes I cry. This is not normal for me. I am typically a pretty stoic guy and previously in my life, I have be able to handle stress well. Needless to say, I avoid calling or seeing doctors whenever I can now. Over time, the fear (if that's what it is) has gotten harder for me and I guess I'll need to talk to someone about this at some point, but that someone will have to be a doctor of some sort and talking to docs is the issue... it's a catch 22.

Anyway, I really think that a lot of my problems at this point stem from my inability to accept what cards life has dealt me. Logically, consciously I do accept my pain and the other stressors in my life. At least that is what I tell myself, but in reality, I think I fight and deny everything. At this point, I really think that my pain levels are not a function of me physically being worse on one day than I am on another day, but that my constant fighting of the reality of my pain wears me down to the point that I just can't deal and end up succumbing to the pain. Objectively, the pain is there 100% of the time, but I believe that it is my poor mental outlook that makes the pain seem worse some days than others.

With that said, I don't want any more meds. I have enough... too much. I don't want anymore ESIs. I don't want anymore of anything that any pain doc has ever offered to me. What I want is help learning to accept my situation and abide with it. I want to be able to sense my pain, acknowledge it and move on without it dominating me or without me catastrophizing it. I have had injuries in the past that were more painful than my back is, but I haven't let them wreck my life or get me wallowing in self-pity for months on end. I feel like there has got to be some way for me to wrap my head around this situation and deal with it more rationally.

Does this make sense to anyone? If so, do you have any advice? I think part of my problem with doctors, specifically PM docs, is that I do not see any solution that they can provide that is acceptable to me. I want someone to help me with how I perceive or think about the pain, not someone to attack the pain with more pharmacuticals (injections, pills, etc). Maybe, someday, I can face those treatments again, but right now, I think that I am hurting myself more than my back is hurting me and I don't know of any place that can address my mental state without casting all teh blame on my physical state. My old psychologist indicated that I was fine and the pain was the problem. My old PM doc indicated that my mental state was what needed to be worked on. So, I am not sure where to go from here... I agree with the PM doc. I dont' need his help... I need to learn how to help myself... somehow. Any ideas?

I hope this makes sense to someone out there. If not, I'm sorry. I'm trying.


  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    Back pain never goes away, It's there constantly. where as the other more painful "pains" that you've had, are the ones that with time, go away.
    You sound like a prime candidate for a Pain psych.
    NOT a "general Psychologist". But a "Pain Psychologist" who specialises in just that area. Make any sense?
    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!
  • My PM Dr. gave me a pain management booklet that talks about the whole you. Things from anti-inflammatory foods like pumpkin and orange etc. mainly anything orange. There are more but can't find the booklet now.. Deep breathing and relaxation methods and lists of alternative treatments like acupressure, acupuncture, and one I use everyday is infrared platinum heating pad and exercises with the exercise ball.

    When I get on the phone I usually say Hello Diane or whoever the name of receptionist or Nurse and say I wonder if you can help me today. Then I ask her the question I have for the Dr. or for general info. There are chronic pain groups at many PM Drs where they go more in depth with accepting the pain or dealing with it but I haven't been to any personally.

    I also use positive affirmations to help with positive thinking but don't ignore the fact I have chronic pain. John, a member here mentioned It's what you can do that will help you get by with daily issues as opposed to what you can't do.

    I also gave up on painful injections until I've recently found a gentle PM Dr to help giving me the injections after been to 2 other PM Drs who were not as gentle giving injections. I find it very hard to accept this daily pain also but I still have hope there will be a solution with technology in the near future to help out.

    Even getting validation for your post really helps deal with the questions you have. I hope someone else can help you. I think it's great you're still able to work through the pain. I'm making daily small goals to help with my long term treatment like getting out for a daily walk and looking for hobbies that are attainable for me right now still looking for ways to deal with things until a solution is found for the issues I struggle with. I don't know if this has helped you any but wanted to let you know you're not alone and you have some very valid questions. 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
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    Chronic pain has a way in breaking a person's spirit.

    You see, chronic pain, as I have called it before is the Beast. It doesnt play fair, it doesnt care how old you are or how young. It doesnt discriminate at all. Instead it is always there sometimes digging deeper into you and at times just giving you a small nudge to let you know it is still around.

    I found that people who have dealt with chronic pain for over 15 years or so have gained insight on how to battle this beast.

    I understand at times you can get down on doctors. After all, in the movies and on TV, you go see a doctor and they fix you. You are suppose to get better. Instead you find yourself on many different medications, which change the person you are, you go for all sorts of tests and treatments all trying to help you, but you dont get any relief.

    Trouble is , there is no such thing as a magic pill!

    We need these doctors and we need to work with them in coming up with different approaches. My last surgery was in 2000, but I have had so many flare ups since then, additional herniated discs and now I am looking at two total shoulder replacements. I still see my Physiatrist (Doctor of Rehabilitation). I've been seeing her for over 4 years now and it was only because of her that additional avenues of rehab were taken.

    Deep Tissue Massage therapy was the major factor in controlling some of my thoracic conditions. Without that, I would be in a wheel chair today, or at best getting around with a walker.

    She also sent me to see Osteopathic doctors. That helped to a degree. I look at every positive action as something that will help me.

    Each person has their own course of action they need to take. But it is so important that the road you do travel is something that has been set up and approved by your doctors.

    Overall and bottom line, it all boils down to you.
    You need to find out what works best for you. But I can not stress enough that maintaining a positive approach and outlook is what is needed every single day.

    Always keep in mind that the Beast is there.
    Its not going to go away, it will be with you perhaps for life. Learn to accept that, learn how best to live with it, but never allow it to take control of youf body and your mind.
    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 was just wondering if anyone has advised you to have surgery for your spondylolisthesis? I see that it is stable, so I assume it may or may not be the source of your pain....
  • gwennie17 said:
    I was just wondering if anyone has advised you to have surgery for your spondylolisthesis? I see that it is stable, so I assume it may or may not be the source of your pain....
    No Gwennie, no one has recommended surgery. They see the pars defects clearly (broken scottie dog necks), but no one has shown me any evidence of spondy. They have just said it is there, like it is inevitable with the pars defects or something. But everyone has said that nothing in the MRIs or the Xrays indicate that surgery would be helpful. They just shake there heads and look at me like

    Oh well... I am at work and this is making too emotional... I'll stop back later... I can't do this now.
  • Here's a link for you. This is wonderful in describing exactly what you're going through and the different ways it's treated, how it happens, what it means to a chronic pain sufferer, and including information regarding CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).


    The cycle that chronic pain sufferers can go through is quite clear: you have pain, that pain causes you to think of it as a disability, that disability causes more pain, and the cycle continues. Breaking this cycle is the key to regaining your life back, not necessarily physically, by psychologically.

    One of the most profound questions I've heard with regards to chronic pain sufferers is this: "How can anyone with a significant degree of chronic pain only be affected physically?"

    Here's another link that talks about why it's important to see a pain psychologist and I think you could benefit tremendously by seeing and talking to one.


    Take care of yourself and seriously consider getting some outside help. Just like you can't operate on yourself to fix your spine, you do not have the power to break the cycle once it's become the kind of problem it's become to you without some outside influence of one kind or another.

    I hope this helps in some way, even if it's just a little.
  • Thank you very much for the helpful advice and links.

    How does one go about finding a Pain Psychologist? I have searched my insurance site's "Find a Doctor" tool, talked to my insurance provider, tried Psychology Today's finder and tried the finder on the 4therapy.com site linked above, and I am not finding any psychologists near me (Cincinnati) that specialize in Pain. Would "Grief and Chronic Illness" be the same?

    (I did find one guy who says he focuses on Pain through Psychology Today, but he is a bit too far away, his program is 5 days a week for 4 weeks, he isn't on my insurance and I am disturbed by the misspellings and poor, unprofessional grammar on his website.)
  • ...is to call the ones you think might be able to help you and talk to them about your situation. I would also think that "Grief and Chronic Illness" covers what you're needing.

    It could also be that some regular psychologists have expertise in the area, as well. If I were in your shoes, I would just start calling psychologists and talking with them and see who you find an initial bond with and who has worked in this area before. It might take some time to find the right one, but once you do, it'll be worth the effort.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Just a suggestion.... try calling some PM clinics and ask about any psychologists who work in the pain field and in your area. Just a thought. Chin up - before you rub the hair off your chest. @)
  • sorry your having such hell of time..i think as most do you need keep try other things.
    first keep making calls try find a good doc as cath suggested..
    and i have gone thru my share of aweful docs..
    and i hate pain mang docs after their shots don't work they want ya on pills pills and more pills if they actually gave a hoot..they would listen to ya..
    seems like you have not have hade anyone that will just give a some time and really listen..
    i have alot of issues and finally found good team of docs..and my rheumo doc is very honest ..no amount of meds is going to help me..so i'm trying what works for me..
    i will be in pain for ever and i get so pissed at it and depressed but thankfully i have this place cause so many ppl here have gotten me outta many deep holes..
    keep searching
    and hey cath thank you for those links i have found them very helpful
    keep posting
    vent and asking it does help
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • Hello,
    It is interesting that you have noted that the pain fluctuates not necessarily in physical terms but in how you think about it, excessive attention illuminates the concept and perception of the pain that could invoke the pain feeling like a 10, when we are more positive the pain although may seem less, Howie’s point that is may always be the same is very valid, depression makes us think about pain in negative terms and it always seems worse in this depressive state. As our mood lifts the pain may seem less although the underlying symptom and physical attributes of the pain may stay the same.

    The origin of pain is never initiated in the mind and we have to make a clear distinction between our responsibility of illuminating it, it is done unwittingly and left unchecked manifests itself in pain behaviour or other traits that encourage its continuance.

    Accepting should only be done with a small a, sufficient to be able to move forward, it is not necessary to accept the totality of your situation. The words “let them” are positive and you see some responsibility in your actions, do not be too hasty to be critical of yourself, you have been left to acquire this behaviour unaided, a good psychologist will soon have you back on the right path, you have the right attitude and outlook to help yourself more, than at the moment you understand.

    Improvement is about being honest with yourself, attempting not to think permanently about a condition that dominated our existence is very difficult, some said that it takes equal effort to be negative so why not use that energy to be positive.

    You will need to address your issue one at a time and with profession guidance, it is interesting that although you mention you’re dislike for the pm ethos and I do understand that at times restrictive approach, the suggestion of your old Pm doctor that attention to your mental state would help, has resonated some truth as a proposal that others may shy away and run in the other direction.

    You have made a valid assessment of your current needs and see the value in this supportive approach, success is in adapting to failure and it is understandable that we all initially catastrophize to some extent, for long term patients getting over the idea that the next step will bring with it addition disappointment is understandable and tentatively realistic based on our past experience, it can be improved.

    You have all the acumen for improvement and an ideal candidate, some have yet to reach your attaiments, that they too will get that opportunity for self-improvement. Chronic pain patients become reliant on others to make them better, if we can live and survive pain everyday and many here do, we already have the attributes to improve with the correct support and guidance.

    Be kind to yourself.



  • I guess I wonder why you would have to eliminate one mode of treatment to explore the other.

    Obviously, psychological treatment is beneficial for pain management- multiple research studies have demonstrated the benefit.

    But what you're experiencing is anxiety/panic attack over your current medical care. That's normal in that it's a dysfunctional reaction of the brain to trauma- it's a part of the fight or flight response. It's not something you have to live with, there are also treatments for that!

    Your brain is telling you that the doctors are danger, that you should avoid them. You are listening, it seems. But is that rational? Are they really danger? Or are they able to help you also?

    Just a question to ask yourself :) Hope you work it out!
  • Thanks again for all the kind support. I wanted to give an update.

    I still have not been able to bring myself to call any new docs besides my primary care doc, but I have made some progress. He put me on meds for depression (Wellbutrin) and anxiety (Buspar) and they are helping. The pain is still there as always, but it isn't so oppressive and debilitating. I was even able to go out of town with my wife and daughters without my pain and attitude killing the fun.

    I am in a better place now than when I started this thread, but I still have a long way to go. I know that I am still avoiding going to someone for the pain and I know that it is not good for me to do that. But I rationalize it by telling myself that I want to settle in and see how much of this pain I can accept without additional help now that my attitude is a improving. This is partly a cop out and partly true. When I do go back to a PM doc, I want to be rational and not all emotionally jacked up about the pain.

    So, if my pain and attitude is such that I'd rather deal with it as is instead of taking more meds, is there any point in me looking for a new pain doc?
  • That's great you're feeling better and had a good time with your family. I just started wellbutrin and feel pretty good also. Now that you're feeling more positive maybe looking for a pain Dr. will be better. I've just had my second epidural from my PM Dr. and feeling much less pain thank goodness. But I had to go through 2 other Pain Drs to find this great Dr. Total in 2years I've had 7 epidurals and this Dr. I have is so gentle and kind. It seems there are good Drs out there who are willing to help. My Primary Dr. has helped me find good Drs but this one is the best. I hope your Dr can help you find someone.

    My Primary Dr. gives my meds and the Pain Dr. does injections. I never had to call a Pain Dr. because my Dr. referred me so you shouldn't have to call them yourself and it's your option to go or not. Now that you feel better it's your choice if the pain is needing to get treated. Good your Primary is so nice. I'm happy you're feeling better. 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
  • Hi Dedalus - I think you should go at your own pace with these doctors, but keep going. You have a lot on your plate - pain, wife, kids, job. For many, just the pain is a full time job. When you have responsibilities, you feel pulled much more, compelled to do more sometimes, than you're able. The anti-depressants have provided some relief, but usually, no matter what, there are good days and bad days. If you wait for the "bad days" to do stuff, then you're really going to be stressed when you call the doctors (I know this from experience - I think I have a black mark against my name at some Dr's offices!!) And another idea - maybe it's not the pain you need to learn to accept, but the fact that you can't do all the things you used to.

    I was a crazy Type A had to do everything person (living in New York City) before I hurt my back. Now I'm learning "to be" - even though I can't do much for others anymore, I can be - friendly, supportive, loving, whatever... Also - hanging here on the forum always helps me when I'm in a bad frame of mind.

    Just my ideas - I'm no Doctor or therapist.

    Good luck.
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