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3 Things Doctors Never Told Me About Pain

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I have inflammatory arthritis and I’ve seen a lot of doctors concerning my chronic pain. I think that I have a specialist for every part of my body and my respect for the medical profession is monumental. And yet, sometimes, I’m sure I frustrate them as much as they frustrate me.

I once had a doctor who made me promise to walk 30 minutes every day. He stared into my eyes until I said that I would do it. Really? Did he think I didn’t want to exercise every day? Did he not hear me when I said that the arthritis pain has been getting worse? I felt guilty as I left his office, knowing that there was no way I would be able to keep my promise.

Needless to say, he’s no longer a part of my medical team. And, yes, I look at those I put my trust in as part of my team. Just like any football or baseball team, each player on my team has a purpose. And, just like any sports team, I want to win!

Sometimes, I’ve had to think outside the medical box in order complete my mission. I’m willing to pursue help anywhere I can find it and I’ve found it in some of the most unusual places. I’d like to share some of the results of my quest.

Here are three things my doctor never told me about pain:

1. Medications may not be the only answer.

OK, truthfully, they’ve usually been my first line of defense. But as time went on and their ability to cut the pain decreased, I needed to look into other options.

I have access to top-notch medical care. After a little research, I went to a local pain management program. It was there that I learned about meditation, mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, heat/cold therapies, herbal supplements, and regular massage. I met others who were going through similar pain issues. I was able to try out all of the above without commitment to any one. And some of them have worked out better for me than any medication I can take.

2. I don’t have to do it alone.

As “the mom”, I always thought that I had to take care of everyone. The hardest part has been giving up control and allowing my family to take care of me. They’ve been great about making sure I’m comfortable. I can do as much or as little as I’m able and I know that everything will be OK.

Friends have offered to bring me meals on some of my most difficult days. In the past, I turned them down out of misplaced pride. Now I happily accept their help to make my day easier. And it’s surprising how much I enjoy their brief visit when they stop by.

For many people, having someone clean their house is a luxury. For me, it’s a necessity. The sacrifice to afford it pays dividends in my sanity, serenity, and pain level. Again, I don’t have to do it all alone.

3. I am in control of my life.

So many times in my life I have felt out of control. The multiple doctors’ appointments, the painsomnia, and the discomfort of every day living, have long controlled whether or not I was having a good day. And out of control usually means more pain.

While I can’t always control the circumstances in life, what I have finally realized is that I can control my outlook on life. While I can’t change what’s happening to me, I can change my attitude toward what’s happening. I can choose to be grateful and I can choose to be happy. Or I can choose to be miserable. It’s my choice. I am in control.

I use my doctors now as medical consultants. I take what they say as suggestions for my medical care. However, in the end, it’s on me.

My life is what I make it. I must choose wisely.

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Thinkstock photo by CentralITAlliance

Originally published: May 12, 2017
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