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How To Keep a Happy Disposition

Kevin1KKevin1 Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi Spine Friends,

I am Kevin, been on spine-health for over a half year now. I have no real direction in writing this other than I am looking to find out how people cope with the same problems day in and day out. I get so frustrated and down. Depressed. My cervical spine issues are not going to be surgically repaired anytime soon due to a number of factors, so in the mean time it is all just managing. I am more closed off from people than ever. In fact, that is the opposite of the kind of person I used to be. I have spent time in the chat room and met a great deal of wonderful people and I am happy for that. I am even in as bad shape as many others, so why should I even talking about myself? I have support here at home but I know it wears thin there, too. It just feels like an endless cycle. Thanks for listening.


  • hi kevin, i want to welcome you to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can.i am sorry you are feeling so down.. so this is your first time into the forums! one thing i do that makes me feel in a better mood is to use music as well as exercise.. music can really put you in a different place in an instant and works for pain relief as well..exercise, like walking or swimming, on a regular basis produces enorphins which can make you feel better from the inside out.. a "natural" moood lifter!! i hope these two suggestions give you a couple of new ideas to think about.. it is hard to stay happy when we hurt all the time i know.. it takes work!LOL!!! drop by the forum anytime! Jenny :)
  • Hi Kevin, I agree with Jenny. Listening to music really helps my mind find a better place. I like to get on Youtube and find songs that I like. You can see live performances which is one thing I like to do, and you can also listen to other people do the covers of the music you like. It really helps pass the time when the pain is bearing down on you. Now, not every cover you hear is going to be "music to your ears," but you would be suprised at the talent out there. I hope this helps, it's just another way to listen to the music you like. I hope your pain eases up for you. Take care.

  • I appreciate comments on ways to make ourselves get through some tough physical and emotional times. Yes,I I do listen to music often through my living room system. I do need to get out often more and walk, which is sometimes hard do to, but I used to work regularly (pre-injuries) and I always felt more optimistic and energized. Due to one of my injuries, its not really feasible to get "lost" in a book which is something I would try to do pass the time.

  • It isn't always easy to stay chipper when I am in pain. I have learned how to tune into my pain so that "mild" daily pain doesn't effect me the same way the higher pain does.

    I have had two surgeries and I guess I look back at how much of an improvement I have made that I use that when I am having a bad day. A bad day doesn't compare to the bad months I experienced.

    That being said , it sounds like you are where I was. So what helped?
    Letting people in. I know, crazy. But I did invite people over but told them we get pizza because I couldn't cook. I also would tell folks that they could stay but we had to be in a room where I could lie down because I could't sit or stand for long. This meant that if I got invited to dinner, friends would have to pick me up. I learned that my entire life, I was never accepting of help. I was the helper, the giver, the fixer. Well, it took a lot to give up even more control than I had already lost due to my back. But, in fact, giving up a little more control, got me some life back.

    I wish I had more. Oh,i do have a dog and she just stayed by my side. I knew I was getting better when she wasn't by my side all the time.
  • Its not always easy. For me walking helps with the back pain and so does swimming. I swim with a masters group and the commraderie is great even if I suck cardiovscularly as I try to get back in shape. And as every one has mentioned music. I have 5 cats who most of the time are real sweethearts and like to snuggle and know when I am down. That helps. This group is also a great support. Since you can't read can you listen to books on tape?? Keeping a circle of friends is important but hard to do I find as my life style changed and theirs didn't. Sometimes you have to make the extra effort to keep in touch. Its always worthwhile when you do.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Can you take up a hobby thaqt wouldn't be hard on your neck/back? I've taken up cross stitching and making jewellery (and I've even sold some of it, too!) This way, I ccan sit in my chair and work away. It is so important not to isolate ourselves too. So if even inviting friends over for coffee or a bbq or something that will be easy on you, or like DNice said, order in.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Hey Kevin,

    I have chatted with you in the room, and I understand where you're coming from. I have found that just "making yourself" keep busy and interacting has made me feel better even when I didn't want to. No question it is hard, but please just hang in there........it's gonna get better, keep fighting it! :-)

  • You all are such warm people, thanks for your thoughts and being in this situation, you all have good ideas... The idea of having people over for pizza in a comfy room is what I consider bold. Bold because I feel ashamed for how long my injuries persist. People say things like, "oh, you feeing better now right?" and I am lead to just "yeah, doing okay". How are they supposed to know? It's my own fault there. Heck I wish you all lived by, we could do pizza and a movie and it would totally be "relaxing". I appreciate that you all understand. I may have mentioned this, but the issue with reading is not that I can't read, it's that I am rehabbing and therapy for post concussion syndrome and my ability to concentrate and read for long periods is not the greatest. By the ways, I have 3 cats and a rabbit and yes, they are awesome to have around. :-)
  • We have chatted on line a few times and I want to tell you that you have helped me so much! You come into the room and really bring a smile and easy banter that is open and friendly.

    I think the folks here have given some really great ideas and I hope they will be a help to you.

    I just want to share something that has helped me, I keep a notepad and pen handy so that I can make lists. I find it helpful to make a list of things to do the next day, phone calls, a thank you note for someone who has helped me, some exercises.... whatever I can do to feel like I am accomplishing.

    sending hugs to you Kevin, hope you have a great day!
  • back pain has another {dark } name the suicide disease .because so many people can't cope with the constant dull aching the lack of sleep the inability to have a normal life etc .so don't feel like your on your own my friend .i get down sometimes {today 1 aug 2011 } being one of those days but i have found that having a good kind wife helps a lot also because of the sleep issues i watch a lot of tv at night .i try to swim when i feel up to it and we have a dog so i am not on my own {when my wife is working} .its very hard to keep a clear head when you are in pain all the time and you can't see an end to it .the only advice i can give you is not to beat yourself up try to keep as comfy as you can .in my case that meant purchasing a rise and recline recliner and having the bathroom remodel to help me be independent {i know not everyone had the means and money to do this and i count my self very lucky that we can .but if you can try to keep some kind of normality in your life and accept your condition {very hard} things will become easier .also if you can and feel well enough a holiday helps .hope i have helped
    tony {uk}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Yeah, never heard it called the "suicide disease" but I can't say I am surprised either. I am fortunate to have a loving wife who is super supportive but I feel bad that this has gone on for so long. It's summer and hardly have done any outdoor activities, trips, camping. Like here I am in my office, about to leave for the day, and per the usual it will be me going home and sitting around the house. Maybe go outside and watch the cats mess around. Augh. ... Sorry I feel like I am losing my patience, confidence. I guess there is not much else to say.
  • Hey Kevin,

    I totally understand where you're coming from. I cannot do any of the things I used to do, either. Not being able to lift up my 10 year old boy and rough-house with him kills me at times. I used to run and jog, play sports, heavy-duty hiking. Stuff on my "bucket-list" that I won't be able to complete. I HATED myself for a long time.

    You know what though? We have to accept the things that we cannot change, and we can't change what we are given. I had to accept myself and I'm beginning to like myself again, because I have other things to offer. One thing is right here: Offering encouragement here, sharing my experiences in these forums. Exchanging thoughts, you name it.

    So Kevin, and anyone else this could help, I am encouraging you to try to begin to accept what you are given and try to turn negative into positive. Everyone has great qualities; it's up to us to use them to our advantage! :-)

    Wishing you happiness!

  • I always here people on here say, well you just have to accept it, make the best of it. I am glad that some can see it thru those eyes – I just can’t. Every time I cannot do something I love, or decide screw it and do it anyway – then pay for it for days – I am pissed! It is crap, it is unfair, and I get so sick of it!!! It can get depressing, irritating and discouraging. I can’t for the life of me see how I will ever wrap my head around accepting this pile of shit.
    Sure, some days, even weeks are a little better than others – but it all comes back to the same old crap again. You can count on that! Even your best day is not going to last. It never does. Pretty quickly it gets worse again and you can count on feeling like shit, hurting, being pissed that you can’t do a damn thing you want to do and here we go again.
    O.K. then – did that cheer you up any?? Me either… Take care - Marion
  • and looked at what i should be like .slim /fit working 40k a year .having regular sex driving a BMW X5 and going on holiday 3 times a year .that should be me .and would have if i would not have my back problems its robbed me of so much BUT we are stronger than that and i have learned that material things mean very little .i have just found out that a 30 year old none drinking /smoking fit woman is dying from terminal breast cancer ..also her sister seriously ill with rheumatoid arthritis and 3 strokes at 30 when it happened she is about 40 now and a shadow of her former self ...what i am saying is the world is a cruel place and bad stuff happens to nice people every day .yes i get pissed off with not sleeping and constant pain but .theres more .my wife/daughter and other stuff where i can see things in a different light now.have you read my post on terry pratchett right to die program..?until i watched that program i was all for self termination when it gets too much BUT after watching it i changed my mind i know it sounds corny but life is very precious and as long as you are able to control pain and have some quality of life then it worth hanging on too......i never thought i would feel that way but 45 years on the planet and 30 of them being healthy and fit then the next 15 being ill and getting no better alters your perspective on stuff more that you think ...all deep stuff and we could go on talking all night but i think you get the idea
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Hi Tony,

    I have never been in a forum where every post is heartwarming and thoughtful. Tony, thank you for your post. I have not lost sight of those that are less unfortunate that you or me. And yes, I become frustrated and focus on my own pains, but I do think how much worse off totally undeserving, loving, terrific people have to go though LIFE THREATENING situations. I feel more satisfaction learning about you and others on here than I would spending money just about anything that I really don't need. I hope I hear from more of you because I think you all are helping each other beside me, truly. Thank you. So much. - Kevin
  • For the last several months I've been very down. I've only been dealing with back pain since October 2010, but I'm not stranger to pain as I've dealt with mysterious joint pain and muscle spasms throughout my body for years. In any case, the back pain because so bad I was unable to work as an RN. I became very depressed and felt a lot of negativity. I was constantly down in the dumps. I had my surgery exactly a month ago (holy cow, has 4 weeks really gone by?!?!). After spending five days in the hospital, I came home and was very depressed. I hit an all-time low when my kids were away at my mom's house for the day, and I found myself all alone. I spent the entire day either sleeping or crying. I don't remember when it was, but all of a sudden something clicked. It was as if a lightbulb went on, and I decided I was tired of always being so negative. All of a sudden my faith in God became stronger than ever, and I developed a whole new outlook on life. I'm starting a new job as a telephone triage nurse, so I've really been looking forward to that. And instead of focusing on how much pain I'm in, I've started focusing on how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends and family and how lucky I am to have found a great job that doesn't require me to be on my feet. I started focusing on the fact that, yes, I am in pain, but at least it's nothing terminal. At least I can still appreciate watching my beautiful three children grow.

    I consider the surgery a success (so far) because the initial pain I was having is gone. However, for the last few weeks I've developed a new pain, and it seems as if another disc that was herniated is now causing me problems. Not exactly sure yet, as the doctor wants to hold off on doing another MRI just yet. But, in any case, I'm going to continue thinking positively and I'm going to rely on my faith in God to get me through the tough times.
  • Kim,
    I am happy to hear that you found faith in God as strength in dealing with your unfortunate Oct 2010 pain along with muscle and joint pain. You story give a lot of people hope and I hope you share with others too. I myself am not religious but does not mean I don't have love and spirit in my heart and I do hope these come to the surface in my continued experiences.... Last night, I was on the forum, when I suddenly became suddenly dizzier (than normal) and could not even keep my head up with the headache generated from the C1-C2 pain... I end up abruptly left the discussion group and didn't mean to be rude. I end up being very sick that night and today I feel better and hope it continues today. I need it. Thanking for listening. - Kevin
  • Amen sister, Tell it like it is! I. Could not of said it beter myself! You can try to dress it up and make it sound prety, put lipstick on a pig. Its still a pig". Nobody can get use to this kind of pain day in day out and smile about it. We went in to surgery for beter qualty of life. And we were let down by the medical comunity and we not going to take it.

    I think we should go on oprah! We will march the streets crawling untill we are heard. Or put in a nut house which ever comes first.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Hello everyone, I am pretty new to this forum.I am really not sure how to deal with the pain anymore. 3 years ago I hurt my back at work I suffer from a herniated disc with an anular tear, a bulging disc, scatia and problems with my si joints. Then recently was in a horrible car accident and now suffer from neck issues and shoulder and arm pain, numbness and weakness, chronic headaches. I am in constant pain, I cant sleep and I dont know how much longer I can go on like this. I honestly just want to call it quits. How do I put a smile on my face when I am in so much pain?
  • I find helping others takes my mind off of my own pain. I am a peer support volunteer with a support group for vets who suffer from PTSD/depression/anxiety issues (we call all of these inflictions Operational Stress Injuries, to include all not just PTSD). The group is called the Operational Stress Injury Social Support program (OSISS) for any other Canadians out there who are vets suffering from, or know of any vets suffering from any of these mental diseases. You just have to google OSISS and it will bring you to the site, and you can find the contact information for local Peer Support Coordinators. (sorry, that was my shameless plug for this great program that has helped me, and so many other vets).

    I also have been involved lately with a group called Canadian Veteran's Advocacy Group, we try to help other vets who are in crisis and not getting the support and assistance they need from Veteran's Affairs. This has been busy of late, as they are organizing the 2nd Annual Veteran's Protest to occur on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and in other cities across the country in November. The great thing about helping with this group, is that it's mostly all on-line, networking or over the phone and passing on information to those who need it. There are the people who are hands on and get to see the people they are helping too.

    And as well, coming here and trying to help where I can. There's nothing better than the feeling of self-worth when you help someone else in need, and get results and things happening for them. Helping others seems to help me, too. Keeping your mind occupied and focussing on other people keeps your mind off the pain, even if just for a little while. It also helps seeing others who are so much worse off than you, kind of puts things in perspective.

    I also have my hobbies, like beading/making jewellery and cross-stitching to keep me occupied. Seeing the final results of something that I created also is a great feeling. And make great gifts which I don't have to go out shopping for, lol. When I'm feeling up to it, I also get out and get some photography done, which is what I actually went to college for so many years ago. It's not as often as I'd like, but when I do, the satisfaction is tremendous even though I might hurt after. Of course, getting out to do that is out of the picture now (pun intended, haha) with my arm issues, but I can still have fun "tweaking" photos that I've taken using photoshop or other programs like it.

    I find for myself, if I'm just sitting around doing nothing, is when I feel worse. I feel more tired, more pain, and the depression starts to creep up. There's also a great site called Lumosity that has all sorts of little games and mental exercises to keep your mind working, like memory games, spacial recognition, problem solving and attention span. They're fun, and helps keep your brain working, which a lot of us need in the midst of brain fog caused by meds and pain.

    Then of course, there's my fur kids. They always seem to know when I'm not feeling well and give me lots of cuddles and unconditional love, and are good listeners, lol.

    So those are the things that keep me happy. If you can find some volunteer work to do, I highly recommend it, as I said, the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone else is great, and helps to heal your soul as well.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • How about take up a social hobby; pinochle, bridge, investment class, art lessons at local college..anything that might interest you..photography, filmography course, anything that gets you with people. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, or a CHILDREN'S hospital or become a guardian ad litem. Any thing that takes the thinking off you and on to something that you find interesting and rewarding!

    Just a thought

    Volunteer one hour a week at an elementAry school and have story time where you read to kindergarteners
  • Kevin..I am still reading all the other replies. But something you mentioned about my post caught my eye. The TOUGHEST thing is when people ask me "So you are good now, right?" I can't say yes and I don't want to tell them no. It's honestly one of the most depressing answers.

    If I tell them I'm fine just so they'll leave me alone, they'll actually think I'm fine. If I tell them, actually I hurt almost every day and I've had to give up a lot, I worry they will think I'm milking this 'back thing'.

    I've mastered the "Not as good as I want, but better than I was" answer. If I sense someone genuinely wants to know, I answer. I tell them I'm not the same and yes I hurt every day.

    It sucks. It really does. Even my husband told me that it doesn't seem that I like to hang out with people. It isn't that but it's just that I don't have the normal activities to talk about, I don't like to sit long, I dread the long car ride home, etc.

    I do enjoy sitting outside watching my dog roll in the grass. Her happiness makes me happy.

    I do enjoy music, seems to be most relaxing

    I do enjoy a nice walk. It used to depress me because I can't run and even walking I am not as fast as I want. But then I remind myself that I'm walking which is better than not walking and I remind myself that those that pass me on the road or at the track don't know my story and if they did, maybe they'd be impressed. Each time I go out, I get less self-conscious about me. It takes a lot of effort. Even today, I went to the high school track to walk and almost bailed b/c the kids were practicing. But I'm glad I went. I saw a man from my town that I've seen before (he's the type of guy that seems to know everyone). Anyhow, he smiled and say hello. I said hi back. He said, it's hot but it's good to be out. I thought, "you know what? it is good to be out".

    I hope days are finding you smiling more...I'll try to read through the rest of the posts. I just wanted you to know that we all struggle. But one day you'll meet someone with a back issue...and you will understand and that person will be very grateful that you do understand.

  • I've lived with back pain and other pain for over 20 years now. Keeping a good attitude has always taken a conscious effort. I've come to know that chronic pain is a disease of it's own and have learned to deal with it's dark side.

    I no longer associate happiness with things or times when I feel less pain. For me it's an attitude or a way I choose to view my world and live my life. I can choose to feel anger, fear, depression or I can choose to hold a positive happy outlook no matter how my body is feeling.

    I had to change my relationship with pain. I no longer fear it, try to run from it, try to avoid it but now I acknowledge it but never let it run my life. I still get to choose how I want to live and how I want to be. That said, it doesn't diminish the pain at all or the fatigue I experience in every moment.

    Happiness is something I found inside of me. All the outer negative conditions can still be there and I can still find the source of happiness inside me.

    No I don't have a perpetual grim on my face, but I can be happy with life just as it is.

    Good luck with the pain and know it doesn't have to ruin your life or steal your joy.

  • Dennis - how did you get to that place? I need to get to that place. Is it constant self talk?
  • Great attitude! I try to remain positive, not focusing on the negative, but the positive things in life. Focusing on our pain and the negative reflects in our lives as a whole, and just seems to make the pain worse. When I'm truly focusing on the positive, the people in my life can see and hear it in my face and voice, and always comment on how I must be feeling better, even though I might be in just as much pain.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Wondering too. Thanks for your insight.

    I try to be upbeat, but by the end of the day,( sometimes just a few hours into it)the pain rears a really ugly head. I most often just get depressed and quiet but my husband doesn't understand either, though he trys.
    Thankfully, my pain has been a little less, maybe only up to an eight on some days but when it gets beyond that i just want to lay down and give up. Then what do you do? Focus on?

    Gentle Hugs For ALL,
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    I spent so many years dealing with chronic pain in some state of depression, anger or other negative thoughts.

    I realized that by doing that, I was only hurting myself and that recovery and getting back to semi-normal was more difficult.

    I am not sure when or how I change my outlook, but I've come to realize that one of the only ways we, as spinal patients can move ahead is by having an upbeat and positive outlook.

    Reminds me of a childrens book. "The Engine that Could" About a little Red Engine that was trying to climb up a hil. At first the engine was do discourage and felt that there was no way to climb that hill. But after a while, the engine's attitude changed from negative to positive.

    I know I can, I know I can

    While simple words, it says so much. Our mind is a very powerful tool. Keep it negative, and it may only think in negative ways. Stay positive and not only can will deal with things easier, but we can find that our recovery or just living with chronic pain can be just something less painful.

    How do we do this?
    One of the things for me, was to see other people (at the rehab center for Land and Aqua PT) how badly they were. Not being able to walk, not being able to talk and having so much difficulty trying to communicate. Almost like an infant or a new born pup. That it me hard and I said to myself, I am lucky not to be like those.

    It aint easy, but its worth the effort
    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
  • Kevin very good question.
    Ive had my times of being stuck in neutral. Feeling like I'm doing nothing & I'm just existing. When the doctor said you will not ever be pain free it hit. I knew it but had to hear the words. After some angry days I decided the pain would rule my life or I would. I lost my SIL & one year later my sister both young & there I was still here. Its hard lets face it.

    Like Ron I am constantly telling myself I can do this, I can do this. In fact more days then not. I do not have the same life & never will but I try to find some joy & more important laughter. Whether its a good friend a movie or a joke. Like most Ive lost a great deal of my social life.

    I'll smile even though I'm in pain & its hard some days. I have to say I found strength through prayer & god & I realize not everyone believes the same but for me its my life line.

    I used to think my family would be better off without me but I realized no they would not. Its not about what I can do but who I am.
    Mind you I still have days I cannot believe this is my life. I have the cervical & lumbar problems. Cervical is my worst for now. Drives me crazy.
    Offering support to others is huge as I know I can still help & also realize I'm not alone & there are others far worse off then I am.

    I set small goals & try to accomplish them. Where I used to do it all in one day I do a couple things in one week & that will have to do.

    Although I am constantly working on something. For now its my mood after along day. Not to put on others around me.

    Its a hard life & just living it day to day makes us strong people. Today I can offer advice who knows tomorrow I may be the one asking for it.
    I do understand & feel for you.
    Good luck & God bless, Faith

  • Hi Kevin,Everyone,

    I agree w/ Charlie that "I have found that just "making yourself" keep busy and interacting has made me feel better even when I didn't want to. No question it is hard, but please just hang in there........it's gonna get better, keep fighting it!" And you all have so many good pieces of advice. However, on the darker days, I still need help. I like you, Kevin, have people wondering/saying, "How long is she going to be THIS WAY?!" WWLady, I like your lists of "accomplishments", I like Ron's Little Red Engine, I really look forward to reading ALL the posts- they really do help. I do get some laffs, smiles and giggles on here and it is a godsend. I think the last post from Faith4life, helped me the most; "Today I can offer advice who knows tomorrow I may be the one asking for it." Actually, just knowing we all are in this together,(sorry bout that, lol) has given me a place to come to and feel not so alone and hurting. I still PRAY for God to ease the pain. I send blessings your way.


  • Pain, Pain, Go Away
    You've Pissed me Off, Now bug Off,
    Come back again some other friggin day!

    Living with constant pain just sucks, the best we can do is take it one day at a time. I try ot think of it like a commercial that used to be on a long time ago: I have chronic pain, but it doesn't have me.

    I have days where I just want to be left alone and find that those are the days I need contact the most. I wish there was a way I could wave a wand and make all of our pain disappear, until then, sending hugs to all of my spiney brothers and sisters :)

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