I've been living with chronic pain for almost a decade now. That's a depressing thought. I've tried every kind of treatment and therapy under the sun, and the harsh reality is that the spinal damage I have and the innumerable forms of pain and discomfort it causes me, might very well be around to stay. I always keep a little bit of hope in my back pocket that some new technology or treatment will come along and "cure" me - allowing me to have my old life back - but for the most part, I've come to understand that a perception of acceptance and gratitude despite a 24-7 pain cycle, are about the most realistic options I've got.
Acceptance and gratitude, of course, are pretty darn hard to tap into though when you're faced with a constant up-hill battle against your own body! And having said that, the ultimate tool I've recently come to find is a support group geared to helping people tap into that state of mind.
For years I asked doctors if they didn't know of any support groups for people with chronic pain. Almost all of them said they didn't know of any but to let them know if I ever found any. One tried starting a support group, but the few times I attended I discovered it was more of an occasional lecture at his clinic about spinal stimulation devices. Another support group I joined didn't have much structure and most the meetings were also lectures by health care professionals advertising particular therapies.
Eventually I found Chronic Pain Anonymous (CPA). While there's elements of their program I'm not too into, it is by far the best thing I have ever found. It is based on Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a support group all over the world that has helped millions of people recover from some of the most demoralizing circumstances in some of the most inspirational ways.
CPA has only been around for about 10 years, and is still relatively small. But it's a great program with some really good tools for coping with chronic pain and/or illness. The foundation of the program - as it is in AA, and every other 12 step program out there - are the discussion meetings. They aren't "discussion" meetings in the true sense of the word. There is no "cross-talk" (where people respond to what others have said). Instead people just briefly share about themselves either in relation to a topic chosen at the beginning of any meeting, or about whatever is on their mind at the meeting. Often times you can just attend a meeting and just listen in. It is probably the most powerful thing I've discovered in my near-decade of chronic pain to simply hear other people relate their stories or feelings and find that they're so much like my own.
For anyone interested in a support group for chronic pain, I highly recommend Chronic Pain Anonymous. You can learn all about them at their
Most the meetings CPA provides are on the phone through a teleconference system. Right now there is a meeting every day except Friday. To see the meeting times and how to dial in visit:
They are an hour long, and like any meeting, sometimes they're great, other times they're not-so-great. It really depends on the topic, how well people are feeling, and how much background noise people are getting on the calls. If you decide to check one out, just be sure to dial *6 to mute your phone right away. (The mute on your own phone won't work) When or if you want to share, you dial *6 again, and then once more when you're finished.
The first 15 minutes or so of any meeting is spent reading "the script" of CPA, which basically just tells everyone what it is, and how meetings are run.
CPA is still a very new organization, so in terms of in-person meetings, there are not many yet. To see if there is one near you, you can check out this page of their website:
I think the one and only disclaimer I have about the program is that it has a strong "spiritual" foundation. Which is not to be confused with "religious" foundation. Being agnostic, I was very turned off by the mention of "God." But as you learn what the program is all about, you realize it's more of a concept than any sort of "bearded man in the sky"! It's based on the original steps of AA which were written in the 40s I think, so, while the program is NOT religious, it does have a firm foundation in judeo-christian values.
So, I just wanted to share that with Spine-Health. I've found it to be an incredibly helfpul resource in coping with the daily life of chronic pain.
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