One of the factors of living with chronic pain is the need to constantly review where you are in relation to Goals, Drugs and Exercises. This week I have been working with my support team to confirm that I am getting the most out of the regimes that I use.
I keep a written record of my pain management which I use on a daily basis to pace myself and then on an ad hoc basis to inform the team. This covers which exercises and stretches I do, my pain levels at start and end of the day, the drugs taken, hours slept and activities undertaken.
This type of record is very useful as it provides hard data against which comparisons can be made, preventing emotion and feelings from getting in the way of what is really happening.
The multidisciplinary team discussed how things had been going. We agreed that there was a need to change both the medication and exercise regimes. We also discussed how attitude toward recovery, specifically my determination to minimise drug use and maximise the amount of exercise and activity I was doing, could affect recovery.
During an excellent, month long, pain management course I attended in the UK I was taught the importance of coming off drugs and making every effort to improve my personal fitness. Under normal circumstances this is widely accepted as being the best practice approach toward pain management.
However it would appear that the principles are intended as a guide rather than a set of rules. They are designed for the average man or woman in the street, and not someone with the drive and determination that has served me so well in the past.
Whilst the logic of what was being said was unquestionable, it was very difficult for me to accept. The turmoil it created in my mind drove me to write the following poem, perhaps other pain sufferers might find it interesting.
Today we talked meds again;
the doctors are giving me more.
They think a higher dose,
will make me happier than before
They haven’t factored in failure
the feeling that I bear;
when my body is so doped up
I feel like I’m not there.
They tell me how impressed they are
with the way that I’ve got on
pushing through the barriers;
but they say that way is wrong.
I learnt the hard way,
success requires hard work.
without pain there is no gain,
for glory you can’t shirk.
I strive to be a person
who will not accept defeat.
Who through sheer determination
This chronic pain I’d beat.
I was taught; to keep my body clean;
To avoid drugs where I can;
that morphine can not cure my pain
so exclude it from my plan.
The doctors say that normal folk
would find these rules so true.
but it’s my determination -
that’s made my plans fall through.
Now they’re going to dope me up
so I will not feel the pain,
but I sense the weight of failure
will drag me down again.
So if I make my next review
it’s likely I’ll be told;
to increase the dose of happy pills;
and they’ll see my world implode.
John Carré Buchanan
07 September 2012