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Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

As I said in a previous, wrongly posted message, I seem to have mislaid my PMA. Until a few days ago I thought I was doing so well, facing up to the inevitable worsening of my condition and the restrictions it was imposing on me, but now I find that I am becoming more and more depressed. I seem to wish the days away and when I wake in the middle of the night I wish the night away. I am losing the fight with this thing.
The medication helps but some pain inevitably remains.
Where is the bright side we are all supposed to be looking on?


  • I am always up and down,just because I've come to terms w fate doesn't mean things are always happy. I go to a pain psychologist and take anti depressant medication. I don't think the message is to be happy, don't worry but rather acknowledge your pain and live with it not fight against it.
  • gives us a reason for being each day......yes, there are things that we may not ever be able to do again, but isn't that also true of aging? Our conditions can make it more challenging, or more difficult , and we may have to spend some time investigating new ways of achieving our goals, but they are there, still attainable in most areas if we just find our way around the road blocks.
    Pain is going to be there, no matter if we sit around and do nothing or we choose to become proactive and learn to manage and adapt to this.....I refuse to let pain become my world, it can be a small part of my world but it's not ever going to take it over.
  • Life is about choices. You wake up each day and make a decision about how you are going to view the events of the day. You can choose to see just the things you can no longer do or you can find ways to do them.
    I just turned 50 last month and my chronic pain journey began in my 20's. I did what you are doing, focused on all that I felt I was cheated out of....then one day, I realized that not only was the pain consuming me , I allowed it to.
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 03/09/2014 - 5:35 AM
    someone said that so and so is not happy unless they are depressed. i think that is what goes on with some chronic pain sufferers. complaining about pain has become part of their lives and they are not happy unless they feel and talk negative about it. complaining about pain has become so ingrained in their lives that they are depressed unless they complain about it. too many times i read about how i spend all day crying and lying in bed and family does not want to be with me. why keep this type of behavior up? it does not help and it drives friends and family away. people don't want to hear how bad our lives are.i for one keep away from the chronic complainers and it does not have to be about pain. some people complain about marriage, kids, work, and on and on. chronic pain is just another one to complain about.. it is a choice and not that i am better or stronger than others. i refuse to complain and i don't become happy when i complain. it is a choice pure and simple. we learn to live with it or let it rule our lives. so as cher said in moonstruck as she slapped nicholas cage, snap out of it.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • mcjimjammmcjimjam Posts: 307
    edited 03/09/2014 - 6:11 AM
    It is so hard to keep up a positive attitude. I find that if my pain is at the lower end of the scale like a 3 or 4, then I'm often fairly positive. I can enjoy things, distract myself to an extent etc. Lately my pain has been worse, often around 6 or 7, and I am back to feeling very negative. I don't think there is any point sugar-coating it, when our pain is out of control, it is hell. It is a nightmare.

    So my question to you is your pain being managed as best it can? Are your meds providing enough relief, are you using other pain management strategies like exercise/stretching, relaxation techniques, distraction etc. If your pain has worsened lately it might be worth seeing your doctor to have your treatments reviewed. If that is all in order it might be worth considering a visit to a pain psychologist/psychiatrist or enrolling in a chronic pain self-management program that uses psychological strategies. Checking out support groups in your area could also be beneficial.

  • I'm asking the veterans: does the pain scale stay constant or it happens that you reevaluate it and over time the old 6-7 becomes the new 2-3?
  • For me, yes my perceptions of the pain scale and it's relating my pain levels has changed over the years, given my overall experiences with different types of pain, and my experiences with it......what used to be my 8 is now my 4, and my ability to focus on other things during episodes of increased pain has also changed.....It is always there, so I learned to not focus on it so much, especially when it is higher than normal for me....giving into it, make things that much worse for me, so I try my best to find things to distract myself, even it is just changing my position some. I may have to do that a hundred times but it works, sometimes for a minute, sometimes longer, but I don't focus on how I am feeling. I know it's not going away and paying too much focus to it gives it more of my attention than I want it to have.
    That being said, I do have what I consider to be decent overall pain management programs in place, which tend to handle most of my everyday, all day pain, and I use my breakthrough meds very sporadically so that they are effective when I need them to be...I also rely heavily on the use of heat or heat patches , ice, and rest, hot showers and stretches to help ease the stiffness and increased pain levels when I overdo it.....which is about once or twice a day....
  • Believe it or not, I do understand where you are at emotionally and mentally and you are right, chronic pain is taxing......there are no two ways about it, it is draining and mentally exhausting. It is for those very reasons that I don't allow it to occupy much of my day to day thinking.
    I KNOW it isn't going away, and quite honestly, the easy thing to do would be to focus on what I don't have or am able to do because of it.
    But I have found that giving it too much attention tends to make it take front and center stage in my life, and it's already cost me too much , so I refuse to give it that much more.....
    Acceptance, to me simply means acknowledging that it exists and will remain that way, now my focus is on how I can still achieve the things that I want to achieve despite it.
    Maybe, the drinking isn't helping Aaron....I mean this in the most kind way, but alcohol, is a depressant and tends to make us rehash those areas of our lives that we are dissatisfied with.....while it may offer interim relief from some of the pain, the price of drinking too often is far more costly.
    What is it that you like to do Aaron? Something that brings you contentment and some exhiliration? What fires your blood and gets your heart pumping? Whatever it is Aaron, find a new way to accomplish that, and you will find that when you are able to overcome the obstacles that you have in your path, that you have finally reached acceptance.
  • Upon turning 70 my Dad created his own 'Bucket List' of sorts..we call it his 'late life crisis!'. He always wanted to play the saxophone. Most thought it was too late in life to take-up such a difficult instrument. He's never played anything & couldn't read music. He found an old jazz guy who supplements his income by giving lessons. They're now great friends & travel around to different jazz clubs & my Dad's a pretty good saxophonist..ok he'll never be proffesional but it's given him a lot of pleasure & satisfaction, particularly because people laughed & said it was impossible. He had an accident in his 20's that severed his little finger, half of his ring finger & the tip of his middle finger!

    Sometimes being pig headed & stubborn is a fantastic quality. He'll never stand on stage as he fantacised in his youth but he's crossed a big one off of his list ;-)

    I watched him crippled with spine pain in his 40's & 50's yet he now plays senior golf, sometimes 5 days a week! (a single digit handicap was also on the list) He doesn't always take pain pills everyday anymore. Age doesn't always equal more pain. I know it's unusual but time can have a way of settling the spine down. His spine looks like a scenic railway, people gasp when they see it but it rarely causes the agony it used to & it doesn't stop him doing things anymore. You wont see him on the PGA tour but at 75 he's an inspiration to me!

    I'm not saying we are all going to be so lucky & I know many of our spines are past the point of no return but there's still so much we can do. We might have to rearrange our dreams a little (or a lot) all I know is...sitting around concentrating on what we can't do isn't going to get us anywhere.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 03/09/2014 - 12:53 PM
    It's ironic that you mention your dad signing up for sax lessons. I have always wanted to learn to play guitar......even bought one a few years ago, while I was sitting in the house , feeling sorry for myself. So guess what I did, I turned 50 recently and decided it was time to learn to play that guitar......so far I have had 3 lessons, learned 4 strings worth of notes, and 6 chords, but I can play a few songs, albeit a little slower than normal but I am learning. I get such joy from practicing, and improving day to day....Your dad rocks!
  • Thank you. My Mum didn't think so when he was first learning!!! She appreciates it now that he can play nice songs. He bought a Beatles song book to learn for her. That's huge he was a Rolling Stones guy! She nearly lost her mind with the squeaky sounds at the start. ;-)

    Never give up! Do you have a 'Bucket List'?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • I'll bet she didn't..........but those squeaks are the beginning of some beautful music coming. I'll bet your mom is secretly proud of him and especially since he cares so much to get her favorite music to play for her.
  • ...AND it gets him out of the house so she can have the girls round with some wine! ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • What wife wouldn't??????
  • Hi English Girl

    I have been suffering pain for about two and a half years, your 70 year old dads story is inspiring and has given me hope that things will become more tolerable in the future as time goes by.
  • I completely understand how unappealing it is to accept things, rather than fight them, but sometimes it has the opposite effect to what you would think. Imagine a chinese finger trap. Once you put your fingers in there, the harder you try to pull them out, the tighter the trap becomes. To escape the trap, you must let go. Many experiences are similar. The harder you fight, the worse it can be. Acceptance won't change the pain directly, but it can change how you feel about it, which in turn can make the pain seem less.
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 03/10/2014 - 12:48 AM
    Spine pain is so different to any other pain. I'm much happier when I'm not in pain and sometimes I'm not 24/7 now. But then it all comes tumbling down again and I am in so much pain just have to lie there and distract myself. I was really positive and bought a great guitar as well when I first had my accident. Thought I could learn to play. I did so much shoulder damage I couldn't handle playing for more than 5 minutes so gave my guitar to my niece. I think spine pain is a roller coaster ride - sometimes up sometimes down.

    I did walk the Camino de Santiago with constant pain - a lot of younger fitter people didn't make it. I walked through the pain but it was always there and even though the pilgrimage was distracting - pain still took over so much as I really did have to fight it to make it. I had to accept the pain as well and didn't carry a pack but the pain impacted every day on that journey. As it's a pilgrimage and a penitence for a lot of people who are religious, think I overdid the penitence - had enough pain beforehand to get forgiven for my sins .

    One psychology theory about depression, not clinical depression, is that the level of depression comes from where in reality you think you should be, and where are in reality you are. Just an example is that you think you should be fit and healthy but are in pain all the time. The gap between the two correlates to your level of depression.

    I was never depressed before this accident - didn't really understand depression, was always out doing some kind of daredevil stuff. I like excitement and adventure. Now that's nearly out for me so sure I get depressed and try to distract my self. I took up salsa and had to give it up because of pain, went to life drawing classes but couldn't sit or stand for the three hours so had to give it a miss. Used to go to gym twice a day - I was lucky I was fit before this.

    It's such an up and down journey. There is nothing stable about it. Mcjimjam those are such wise words from someone so young.

    I can't sugar coat the pain either - I have lost so much and even if I am where I want to be materially - it's people who make life worthwhile for me and now I'm not much fun it hurts a lot to lose some of my friends. I don't blame them, they don't understand but to go from being a good time person - had lots of parties, many instantaneous - my house was always full of people, I had lots of friends and I was fun to be around. Now I am at a stage where I am almost isolated because of the pain.

    The thing about pain medications is it kills the pain but also kills the pleasure senses l. I guess I would rather the pain be at a level I can handle so am willing to give up the pleasure senses, but I can't sugarcoat it either.

    I sometimes think I'm like a dog who runs across the road and gets run over. The dog doesn't do anything to deserve to be run over. It's just life and whoever said we are meant to be happy all the time. I fake happiness. That's just wrong.

    I had a friend come and stay for a couple of weeks that turned into months who had known me before my accident. One morning I woke up and came out and he was crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he was so upset to see me in this much pain and he was crying because he didn't realise how bad my daily pain was and he felt helpless because he couldn't help me.

  • I'll write later. I just wanted to say this while I thought of it... My brother worked with handicapped children as a hobby. Is there a school near you? Fishing was his passion. Traveling to Gambia for the big ones you know? It was having a family & finances that slowed him with that. He taught the disabled children to fish, took them camping etc. he found it very rewarding & should never of stopped when he moved! Because of their problems I'm sure you wouldn't have an issue keeping up.
    You said you had an interest in art. I now do mixed media & art Journaling..it's far more manageable than standing for fine art. You could share that with kids. You're an intelligent guy who can write..I can see you doing something with those skills too.

    It's Spring Break..gotta go!!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Sorry..I knew I'd get interrupted there!

    I guess what I'm saying is isolation & stagnation brings depression for even the strongest bodied people. I'm talking about the old poetic idea of 'bodies rest & motion'..just doing something different brings you into contact with new people & that in itself can get you moving (emotionally) into the future. Something that seems like a tiny step can completely change your life. You know? "turn a different corner & we never would of met" (yes I'm quoting George Michael now! It's a bad morning). We never know who or what is going to bring new passion to our lives.
    My family & true friends are still there for me. It does still make me sad when I think of the people who drifted away as I became boring. Like you, ours was the party house for the longest time. To be honest we lost more people after we became parents than because of my pain! I've made the best friend I've ever had through becoming involved in my new art hobby. I was at a very low point before she came into my life. Now we chat & laugh everyday & that's the best kind of therapy! ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • There are lots of books on The Mind Body Connection and how you can use medittion and visualization to assist in pain management. At first I thought it a bunch of bunk.... but now it has started to help. I have a long way to go but I'm getting back into what I enjoy, minus the running, hope to be biking when my 3 level fusion is solid. I still have down times and spent all day Saturday trying to recover form being back at work, but I started this week on a good note and hope to finish the same way. I have a 30 minute commute each way and have gotten several books on CD to help me learn about the mind and how it can in fact control pain. I do have to turn the CD's off when it gets to "Your feeling totally relaxed" not while driving. Lol
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Lol. Yeh I've got 2 little kids..it's hard to find my 'happy place' at times! ;-)

    It takes a little practice, after 2 years I still can't imagine how people have surgery with nothing but the power of mind to sedate them but anything that gives me a little vacation from the pain is good! Have you tried the aromatherapy oils with meditation?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Wow! That certainly provoked quite a debate. It was not my intention to portray myself as a sad case who never stops complaining and moaning about my situation. The point I was trying to make, borne out by many of you, is that we all do our best to manage our condition but from time to time it really becomes very difficult and we have some days that are worse than others, and they are bad enough. If we can't have a mini-rant here where can we?
    It was interesting to hear everyones' views it shows that we can all learn from each other. If anyone is interested I think you may have helped me find the missing PMA
    Best wishes, John
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 03/11/2014 - 5:01 AM
    i've pretty much accepted my pain and for the most part don't let it rule my life. I is like an irritating old aunt who bugs you when she visits. one learns to ignore her and her rants. but to be honest, i do miss certain things that i can not do now. it is not a depressing thing, but things i used to do and wish i could do them again. i used to run, play tennis, surf, and over all be active. i like to travel and go places which i still do but if i want to go to someplace like disneyland, i have to rent a wheel chair to get around. i think about these things and have good memories but i still get enjoyment to going to football games, season tickets and watching these sports that i used to do on tv. so depressing, no. missing them, yes. does it rule my life, no. to i still try to be active, yes. so basically there is nothing i can do about this situation except to do the best i can and be as active as i can and to keep my finger in the jar of life, so to speak
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I've been thinking about what you said were things that you love, and since travel is one of them, what about looking into being or starting up one of those tour companies, or acting as a travel agent? There are companion opportunities, that give you a chance to travel as a guide of sorts, but also give you some down time on your own , while your customers are off at planned activities and events.
    Have you given any thought to doing something like that, even if you only did one tour a year or something, it would give you the opportunity to do something that you love.......and the best part is that you can choose when you want to go or not.
  • It is something to consider, and it might be a niche that you could do really well in , if you decided to persue it at some point, even maybe consider specializing in travel for those with physical disability - a whole new marketplace.......I'll get you to be a new entrepreneur yet!
    As far as the current traveling you do, don't be afraid to get a scooter or a wheelchair if you need one........I know the mental part of it is difficult, I went through it myself, for many months, but then I found that I could pop wheelies with the best of them and my purple wheelchair got laughs out of kids, instead of the stares that I so dreaded. It made it easier for me to go to places that I wanted to go without winding up being in so much pain that the trip was ruined for me.....

  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I knew a man who was born with brittle bone disease, he was severely disabled so in a specially adapted wheelchair, he used to organise overseas holidays for the disabled, he would always travelled to the countries alone to check out the accommodation and facilities for suitability for his organisation before taking bookings.
    His last trip was to Cyprus, he broke a bone soon after he returned home and sadly died from the injury.
    He was in his 50's by then and lived life to the full.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Aaron,
    While you may not need a wheelchair yet the idea/premise behind the business is advocating for those who are disabled in whatever capacity and being able to travel and knowing/learning what accomodations can be made for them to enjoy the sites and sounds around the world.
  • aaron
    after my first fusion where most of the pain was gone, my family, wife son and myself, treated ourselves to a trip to hawaii. it has been 40 or so years since i surfed with a board. i have done body surfing since then but i got a board and went to a surf place where they work with you. i was almost 60 then and the rest were teenagers or in their 20's. boy talk about feeling like the old man but i managed to keep up and managed to stand up on the board a couple of times. unfortunately the first fusion made the disc above it unstable and it herniated worse then the first. i had another fusion and another and another. i should have stopped at the first one because i could still play tennis albeit not run as well. so what do i do? i watch tennis, surfing, and football on tv. does it replace my active life, no but it keeps me into it as best as i can. surfing and tennis by proxy. now when i retire in june, my wife will still work, my son will be off to college, and i can't even walk without a cane or walker. but instead of tv, i will try some other sport, like joining the ymca and swimming laps. hope that will work but it is better than sitting around watching tv and doing nothing. part of retirement is that i can't substitute until 9 months after retirement. so after 9 months, i will start to substitute
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Just out of interest Jon..would you be allowed to sub in the private schools? My friend used to teach special ed. I know how much the kids need you guys & I would normally never encourage any teaches to leave public school but just for a few months?
    My Dad was lucky..he was self employed. He's always been a very strong independent man like you. Watching his 'normal' friends go through retirement I've seen the stress it can cause. I left my career to become a stay at home Mum. I love it but you loose so much. You chose a particularly rewarding career path which you clearly love. I think it's sad that the kids are going to be missing out. In my area there's a lack of great teachers particularly for special Ed.

    ...or have I got it completely wrong & your looking forward to a long break?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • I can't believe I just typed 'your' and not 'you're' to a teacher...please don't make me write lines! ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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