There are only two certainties in life. Death. And, Oh Ya, that other thing, whatever it is. I think maybe it’s called extreme anxiety.
For a lot of us right now, one of the biggest anxieties is about whether or not you or someone you love is going to get the coronavirus and die a horrible painful death. Can you imagine if you carried that level of anxiety about your health with you every day of your life?
This is precisely how I and many other people with serious chronic illness or pain live every day.
Waking up to a good day, when I’m not in so much pain, or simply in less pain, would be a good reason to celebrate. Or so you would think, but it isn’t necessarily so. If I’m not in serious pain right now, I’m probably super anxious about when it will start up again, since it’s seldom very long until the next session. Can you imagine being so fearful of your next bout of pain that you can’t ever be rid of the sense of dread that hangs over you.
And people who come in contact with me try to cheer me up by saying something like, “Don’t worry it, it can’t last forever, can it?” “Just get over it, you’re too obsessed with it.” As if I, someone with serious chronic pain wouldn’t part with anything I have to make it go away. And, well, yes, it can bloody well last forever, well, at least until I die from it, or some other condition that doesn’t happen to hurt, right now.
If I seem focused on feeling sorry for myself, just leave me alone. If you just can’t provide some comfort to me, exactly as I need it right now, then please get out of my face. I hardly need you to tell me to cheer up. And if you can’t handle it to see me suffering in pain, then just don’t. Leave. Piss off.
For me, and a lot of people with chronic pain, the coronavirus is just more thing to worry about, and make me more anxious about everything I have to do, everybody I have to see, and also more fearful about being able to obtain the bare necessities of life.
As if there isn’t enough to stress out about already, without the Damned Tsunami Pandemic, sweeping over the whole world.
To someone with a serious disease and chronic pain, death isn’t the scariest thing, it’s just the most certain.
The journey into becoming a diabetic is one that most of us join without knowing the consequences of what we’re doing. There are a lot opinions out there, even among doctors, as to what actually “causes” diabetes, but pretty much everyone I read knows that diabetes is highly related to obesity and carbohydrate overconsumption. And when I was diagnosed, more than twenty years ago, the information I was given was faulty and at the very least incomplete.
What no one ever said was that if I continued to eat what I thought of as a “normal” amount of carbohydrates and sugar every day, by the time I retired my life would be severely circumscribed, with many symptoms of diabetes and other metabolic syndrome related diseases causing continuing pain, physical exhaustion and emotional distress. I also suffer from chronic fatigue and despite having lost some weight, am still fighting the good fight doing intermittent fasting three days a week for 36 hours.
So what should I have been taught as a younger person, that might have protected me from getting full blown diabetes and other metabolic syndrome diseases.
Eat less carbohydrates. A lot less. On my current low carb high fat diet I keep my carbs below 150 grams a day. Eat even less added sugar. I try not to eat anything with added sugars, and when I do offend I eat very small portions of any sweet at all. Mind you, my appetite for sweet things has pretty much disappeared since I started avoiding them. Stay away from booze. Period. Lots of doctors and dieticians say that a one or two drinks a day is okay. I don’t believe them. Alcohol does similar things to the liver as carbohydrates, without the redeeming quality of providing me with any energy.
Always seek to reduce the amount of starch and sugar, and fill up on natural food if you are going to eat carbs. Eat fruit in season, in your area, and don’t overindulge even in fruit and vegetables.
Try not to get depressed because you can’t have any “real” food. Try to redefine what constitutes a meal, and understand that the meat and vegetables are really enough.
I have been afflicted with Type 2 Diabetes for more than twenty-five years. Perhaps even longer, since my partner reports that she saw symptoms of it even in my late twenties and early thirties. But despite diagnosis in the 1990’s by my doctors, and a referral to an endocrinologist who worked out of St. Paul’s hospital at the same time, the seriousness of the disease and its potential consequences were not really taken into account until relatively recently, when some of the symptoms started to become more pronounced.
Truthfully, until the summer of last year, I didn’t really feel like it was even possible to have any real impact on my diabetes. After being put on insulin, nearly fifteen years ago, with steady weight gain and gradually increasing problems related to my diabetes, I think I didn’t really believe there was anything I could do about the decline in my health, and probable premature death from diabetes related conditions and disease.
On my birthday last year, my middle son gave me a copy of a book by Dr. Jason Fung, on which I have written a lot in this blog in the past. Reading his book, The Diabetic Code, taught me that I need not be doomed to continual decline as a result of diabetes, but in fact could take control of my lifestyle, and thereby forestal future declines in my health, and even, perhaps, recaptures some of the vigor of my earlier years.
From July until the present I have been working towards a better life. I’ve lost a bit of weight, about 30 pounds down from my weight last summer, although I’m back up 10 pounds more or less since November, as a result of failing to maintain my lifestyle changes over the Christmas break.
Starting last night I am back to doing my intermittent fasting for three days a week, thirty-six hours for each day. During November I went from strictly obeying the fasting hours, and not eating anything, to eating Keto foods which are not supposed to break the fast. Whatever I thought I was doing, what was really happening was that my fasts became shorter and far less effective.
Fasting now until I reach my net goal of reaching 15 BMI during the current calendar years is my objective, for now, until I get my weight down from 222 pounds down to 167 pounds for a total weight loss of 55 pounds over the next 12 months. It doesn’t sound too daunting, having to lose between four and five pounds a month to reach my goal. But of course my goal isn’t really so much about losing weight as it is about gaining control over my blood glucose levels, and wrestling my metabolic syndrome to a point where my health doesn’t continue to decline, or lead to ever more serious consequences of my diabetes.
It is discouraging losing weight by changing your lifestyle, in many different ways, but intermittent fasting and eating a low carb diet is probably the least difficult method. All it requires of me is to pay attention to what I eat when I’m not fasting, and to fast long enough and for enough days, to ensure that my liver gets a reboot, during this process. Even when I reach my targeted goal it will not be the end of managing my carbohydrate and sugar intake. A healthy lifestyle for a diabetic (or former diabetic, which is what I’m trying to achieve) should be one that avoids carbohydrate and sugar in one’s diet, on a day to day basis.
Of course, all people need some carbohydrate and sugar in their diets, but it should always be extremely limited since it has proved to be so problematic to long term health. I’m recommitting to changing my lifestyle to a healthier and strong future. This recommitment includes reasserting my plan to get out and walk an average of 4,000 or more steps, at least four or five days out of the week. With serious neuropathy in my feet this isn’t always easy, but it is nonetheless critically important, to build and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
It’s currently two o’clock in the afternoon, and I haven’t eaten anything since about eight o’clock last night. My next meal will be tomorrow morning about eight o’clock, when I’ll have breakfast. My next fast will start tomorrow after dinner, at about eight o’clock tomorrow night, and will continue until 8:00 am on Thursday morning.
Hang in there with me, folks. I may not be changing the world, but I’m certainly changing my world.
The Pain Mastery Institute, which I’ve been blogging about for a couple of months, is shutting down due to financial considerations. Their courses have been useful to me but not nearly as useful as if they had survived long enough for me to get through the whole program.
The main thing I learned from the courses is that much of what is available for mastering chronic pain is drawn by observed people as they take actions or make decisions which assist them in managing their pain, or ameliorating the amount and intensity of pain.
While the course is gone, and the Institute website shut down, this doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning my pursuit of effective pain management strategies. So keep watch for my blog because I will coming back with a new approach soon.
Update on Intermittent Fasting
Starting on Monday this week I began a five day fast, which so far has been a bit frustrating and challenging. The second day and the third day I found myself absolutely starving, which is odd because up until now, fasting for three days a week, 36 hours, I have never been really hungry.
It takes a bit of a different strategy for longer fasts, like a five days on, four days off, but I’m learning and will be putting together a new primer based on somewhat longer fasts.
This has been a really sad and horrific week for me, and for many Canadians. 147 Canadian residents and citizens were killed this week by an airline shot out of the sky by Iran, either by mistake or by design. Either way, we have all lost so much and I can’t really even begin to make any sense of it. I am just sick over it, and I didn’t know anyone personally on the plane, although I do know some family members.
The Prime Minister of Canada has been highly visible in his demands for accountability for this disaster, both from Iran and the United States governments, who put into play the violent altercation that led to these deaths, whether by misadventure or by malice.
I don’t know whether to rage or to cry, or both. I’m not expecting any closure any time soon. Iran is virtually certain to lie through their teeth on this, and Trump will do no better. This is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved in the flight, and all of their country mourns their loss.
Starting today, January 6, 2020 It is my stated intention to achieve a BMI goal of 25% during the current calendar year.
Later in the afternoon
I started working on my blog earlier this afternoon, but was interrupted by a request from a family member for a ride from Burnaby, where I currently work, home to Langley. But I’m back at it now, and would like to upgrade my resolution to include a little more detail about this pledge, seemingly coming out of the blue.
I started doing intermittent fasting in July last summer, and promptly lost 35 pounds before the end of November, fasting for three days a week, 36 hours each on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pretty good results although most of the weight was lost in the first 60 days, and only a small amount during the last 60 days. In the last month I’ve pretty much given back ten pounds or so, depending on the time of day I weight myself.
Until Christmas holidays began I didn’t miss a single fasting day in my schedule, although I did start to cheat a little by eating Keto friendly pepperoni sticks and cheddar cheese sticks after a minimum of 24 hours into my fast. Checking my glucose levels shows me that the advisors are correct, and eating those two things, even combined, doesn’t raise my blood sugar at all, or not does having a handful of nuts. However, it does seem to have a negative effect on weight loss so I am going back to a more strict interpretation of fasting, which is eating nothing during the scheduled period.
During the holidays I broke the fast program only on two days, except for the cheating I’ve already mentioned, but my weight fluctuated from 209 back up to 222 and then down again to 216 and then back to 222. It’s amazing to think that I could regain basically 12 or 13 pounds, even attempting to keep my carbs down and no sugar to speak of at all, except for Christmas Dinner. Losing weight and keeping it off is a challenge, that’s for sure.
In addition, because I stalled quite a while before I started to cheat a little, I’m going to increase the length of my fasting period from a three day a week fast, alternative days during the week, to fasting for five days on and then four days off. My current plan, which I started implementing today with Day 1 of my first 5 Day Fast, is designed to kick start my weight loss again, so lose the next 25 to 35 pounds and get a lot closer to my goal of a BMI of 25, which as I said at the beginning of this blog, is my goal for 2020. I’m going to run with this schedule until my weight takes the next step down, past my previous barrier of about 209 pounds where I bounced back up to 222 over the Christmas holidays. .
My weight this morning when I weighed myself was 222.8 so a 25 pound weight loss would get my weight under 200 lbs, for the first time in a pretty long time. At 200 pounds my BMI will be about 31.2 instead of the current 34.8 (222 lbs) or 38.4 (245 lbs) when I started the program in July 2019.
Over the next few days I am going to re-read Dr. Jason Fung’s book the Diabetes Code, and also review his book on intermittent fasting. My own endocrinologist, Dr. Kang at VGH isn’t planning to see me again until about May so I hope my weight is down substantially by then, and my A1C levels at least down to 6.0, but we’ll see about that.
This plan to reduce my BMI to <25 and my weight to <160 is highly purposeful, in that I am attempting to do on my own what Dr, Fung achieves with his patients, a dramatic reduction in obesity and blood sugar levels. In the meantime I’ll continue to take my course in Pain Mastery from the Institute, and report back to my faithful readers my progress and challenges both in my fight against diabetes, and my battle to manage my chronic pain.
People who have been abused as children have a really hard time as adults, especially as young adults trying to formulate romantic relationships. Without a solid foundation established early in life, emotions can feel like quicksand and you soon feel like you are drowning. People become desperate for love and accept all sorts of inappropriate behavior that seems like it must be some kind of love, or it wouldn’t be so intense. So this is the story of one such person, after an abusive and destructive marriage
Even after years of counseling, he still feels the desperate self-criticism of his youth, pulling him back into depression and suicidal thoughts. At the end of his first marriage, he actually tried to kill himself by sleepwalking in front of a bus
The transit bus driver drove his bus into the side of a building to avoid hitting the patient, most likely saving his life.
He went to see a doctor after this because he felt that he was in danger because of his actions. He consciously knew that he was a danger to himself and potentially others, but so deeply depressed about losing his wife that he was wandering around in a complete daze.
This was despite the fact that the relationship was fundamentally dysfunctional, and she used and abused him virtually every day from the very first moment he laid eyes on her. His self-worth was so low that he actually believed that everything that ever went wrong was his fault. He allowed himself to be her emotional and physical servant, charged with somehow making her feel good about herself.
Although she was highly intelligent and won many academic awards she required constant affirmations of her intellect, and couldn’t accept any opposition to her opinions on any subject at all. To whatever degree he differed from her point of view, she called him out and accused him of trying to undermine her and make her look like an idiot to their friends or families. He also took on responsibility for taking care of every aspect of her life, including paying all the bills, providing her with funds to pay for her advanced education, and a constant stream of extravagant gifts. Their life together was one of extraordinary social adventures, with a stream of her unusual friends variously moving into and out of their home and their lives together.
They were together for nearly ten years and had a daughter. Their divorce was highly acrimonious and as a result of an emotional breakdown, she intimidated him into giving into virtually all of her demands, including extremely restrictive access to their infant daughter, who is now almost forty years of age.
Because of his blindness to her faults and unwillingness to acknowledge her abusive behavior, He simply was not in any position to provide adequate co-parenting to their daughter, who ended up with her being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by his ex-wife and her mother, who had previously done the same things to his ex-wife.
It wasn’t until their daughter ran away from her mother’s house to live on the streets that he became aware of all that she had gone through in her mother’s care.
The daughter suffers from multiple psychological disorders including acute anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD as a result of multiple sexual assaults starting with her grandmother as early as five or six years old. After she ran away, at thirteen years old, from her mother’s home when she came to live with his current partner and him. It was only then that he heard her story and got her into counseling. The road was very difficult, and they were not very successful in helping the daughter overcome her many conditions.
Never in all the years he had been married to his ex-wife did he realize how destructive her constant personal attacks and total narcissistic behavior had been to him. After he more or less recovered from his breakdown and hospitalization after their marital breakdown, he still blamed himself for everything that had gone wrong in their marriage.
But no more. His daughter suffers from many psychiatric and emotional defects, some of which would have been there no matter who raised her as a young child. She also has many physical disabilities including muscular and skeletal problems that have resulted in her living life in chronic pain, and incapable of independent mobility. She also had two children, which he had to have taken from her because she is incapable of providing the minimum care level necessary for their physical and emotional health. He doesn’t blame his ex-wife or her mother for all of it, as it would unfair to do so.
But what is fair to say is that without the abuse by her narcissistic mother and a grandmother who barely survived Nazi rule in Holland as a young girl before abusing her own daughter and granddaughter, their daughter didn’t have a chance at any reasonable life. Despite years of counseling himself, He still knows that he has blinders on regarding his ex-wife and still has hard time understanding what he allowed to happen in his marriage, or what really took place in all the years she had total control over their daughter’s care and custody.
He had even blamed himself for that restricted access, and his lack of involvement in his daughter’s life. The extreme anger his ex-wife expressed towards him made a more normalized co-parenting arrangement impossible. Even spending thousands of dollar on legal fees trying to get better custodial arrangements failed.
If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and have gotten out, don’t try to deal with this all on your own. Find a good counselor and make every effort to deal with your own demons before they drag you into yet another dangerous quagmire.
Unfortunately, you may find yourself repeating your mistakes, over and over again. Learn to recognise the cycle of abuse in your own life, and take action to change your circumstances. Leave.
Global Warming is not the most important crisis facing the world’s human population at the moment.
One of the things that really concerns me about the current mass political movement around global warming is that it is distracting the human race from several other issues that are of far more immediate concern, and which also require a global response if there is not to be catastrophic outcomes, some of which are already far advanced.
And I am NOT saying the Global warming isn’t a serious danger to the health and quality of life of millions of people around the earth, mostly in the mid to long term, anywhere from twenty-five to fifty years from now. And while I believe that it is important, if we don’t address several other, far more pressing issues, half of the population of the globe with sick and dying, directly because of these other issues.
I specifically referring to serious medical problems arising from really bad lifestyle choices being promoted by governmental agencies, national and international disease associations, doctors, international food industry giants, dieticians, and the public media.
So what the heck could I possibly be ranting on and on about? There are three health crisis catastrophes happening right now that can have a bigger effect on the human race, today and tomorrow, than global warming.
Antibiotic resistance and superbugs
The explosion in pollution of the world’s oceans
Religious and political fundamentalism in the political area, and erosion of political and religious freedom
Industrial corruption around the world, and its impact on the peoples of the world.
No one article could even begin to explore these five serious hazards to humanity, and the quality of our existence on the planet Earth.
Personally I’m optimistic that the human race will figure out how to reduce or eliminate the human contribution to global warming. It won’t stop the climate from changing, either continuing to warm for the next few hundred years, or crashing into a new ice age, which is what many scientists were concerned about only a few years ago. It took a lot of effort to stop using fluorocarbons in spray cans, which was attacking the ozone layer only a couple of decades ago. Global warming is more of a concern than fluorocarbons, and will require a much more consequential response if the human race is to find solutions that will resolve our contributions to it. But call me Pollyannaish but I do believe that we will find technological solutions to a problem fundamentally caused by technology. As someone said to me, “it’s not rocket science.” No, it’s harder. But it be done.
I’m far less optimistic about our response to Metabolic Syndrome. Only recently have scientists started to realize the breadth and seriousness of the syndrom, which is directly caused by the consumption of excessive carbohydrates and sugars by populations of all ages, and is a now a global problem facing all of the nations of the globe. Recent research and publication have demonstrated a direct causative relationship between the over consumption of carbohydrates and sugars to the following disorders and diseases.
Cancers of the pancreas, heart, liver, kidneys
Chronic lung disease and cancer
Heart disease including cardiac arrest, arrhythmia and death
May be related to several mental disorders underlying depression and mania
The number of deaths in the world from the above categories of diseases, in 2019 caused by carbohydrate and sugar far exceeds the projected loss of life in the world from Global Warming by 2050 or even 2150 assuming that we don’t do anything to stop it. There is now solid evidence that over a third of all human beings alive today are suffering from Metabolic Syndrome, and many many many people die from it every single day. Far more than from wars, automobile accidents, distracted driving, alcohol abuse and drunk driving – all put together.
Superbugs present a slightly less ominous threat, if you don’t think about the fact that without effective antibiotics we are all vulnerable to diseases we once believed we had wiped out.
One in four infections is already resistant to antibiotics and other known forms of treatment, and 5,400 Canadians died last year from infections that until recently had been treatable. That’s according to a comprehensive peer-reviewed report presented by the Council of Canadian Academies this week.
That’s roughly double the number of Canada’s annual traffic fatalities and homicides combined.
These infections range from pneumonia to infections of the urinary tract, the blood stream and the skin. And their numbers are rising everywhere as international transportation carries every infection-causing microbe to every part of the world.
The report, When Antibiotics Fail, was prepared for the federal government by an expert panel. I was a member of this panel, chaired by Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia.
Oceanic pollution, including plastics and other waste
Ocean Pollution: The Dirty Facts
We’re drowning marine ecosystems in trash, noise, oil, and carbon emissions.January 22, 2018 Melissa Denchak
The fate of our seas is not only up to the government or industry. Our individual, daily actions matter, too. You can start by reducing water pollution and runoff at home, being more mindful of your plastic consumption, or organizing a cleanup of your local waterway. You can also support the work of NRDC and other environmental advocacy groups as well as other businesses and organizations that work to preserve our coasts and waters.
Religious and political fundamentalism in the political area, and erosion of political and religious freedom
The news is full of examples of political terrorism around the world, including bombings and individual acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. This is terror on a retail scale and pales into insignificance against the damage being done to our political and religious freedoms around the world as a result of religious or political fundamentalism that denies people the right to their own religious beliefs, personal development and gender identification, even the right to exist as ethnic minorities in various parts of the world.
There are more people in concentration camps today, than during the second world war, with the vast majority of them in China. We in the west have been negligent in this, but mostly because we are also complicit in our own attacks on minorities and aboriginals. The United States and Europe are split right down ideological and religious seams that threaten the future safety of the world because of the increasing intolerance being shown to people with different religious or political beliefs of large parts of the population. Christian, Muslin and Atheist fundamentalists deny the very right to exist for anyone who dares believe something different than they. The intolerance of a pulpit bully today is the concentration camps of tomorrow.
Industrial corruption around the world, and its impact on the peoples of the world.
A new report has alleged that international medical and pharmaceutical companies are complicit in China’s organ transplant scandal.
The report has, for the first time, named 20 global companies profiting from China’s transplant trade, where innocent people are murdered in a state-sponsored campaign of forced organ harvesting.
The report supports China Tribunal’s Final Judgement in June 2019 which exposed China’s ‘wicked’ organ harvesting crimes and murder of innocent people as ‘Crimes Against Humanity’.
Western companies allegedly involved
The new report emphasises that China’s transplant system is ‘dependent on the import of devices for organ preservation’ from the West and has accused the Western pharmaceutical companies of using Chinese prisoners for testing transplant products.
Over 1.5 million people detained in Chinese ‘camps’ are seen as ‘ideal source of organs’ according to the report and the authors are calling for companies named in the report to answer to allegations or for state offices to “investigate international criminal activity”.
Global pressure is now mounting on China to stop the brutal murder of prisoners of conscience in a scandalous industry estimated to illegally earn the People’s Republic of China over $1bn (~€0.89bn) per annum.
Susie Hughes, Executive Director, International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), stated: “These companies are in a very powerful position because China’s transplant industry would falter without them. It is imperative they withdraw from China immediately to help save innocent people who are being killed for their organs.”
Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the China Tribunal, who recently raised the issue of forced organ harvesting in China for the first time at the United Nations said: “I welcome all new research confirming this horrifying issue. Organ transplantation to save life is a scientific and social triumph but killing the donor is criminal.”
Industrial greed and complicity in the dangers to human survival, both individually and collectively cannot be pursued with enough vigor. Companies are responsible for causing untold health hazards and killing millions upon millions through smoking, dietary corruption of the food chain, false information distribution to the public over years and years.
Global Warming is a Safe Enemy
I started this blog by saying that I don’t think that Global Warming should be at the top of our concerns about the future (and present) of the human race. There are lot of things to be concerned about, and Global Warming is just one of them.
The massive obsessive focus on Global Warming is a little like the obsession in the 1960’s with the nuclear threat and the idea that the Russians were going to wipe out the human race in their global arms race with the USA and the West. The obsession wasn’t totally misguided, it just missed the point that there were other things which should have been addressed and were not. The consequence of obsessing over one significant challenge facing the world, without paying attention to many of the other issues is highly risky.
WEEK 2 More Relieving Skills for the Physical Intensity of PAIN
The second weekly lesson from the Pain Mastery Institute is about another set of skills designed to reduce the experience of pain in the body. These skills are to impact pain that is a result of muscles tightening up as a reaction to pain of any type, located in various parts of the anatomy.
What is taught is a series of tensing and relaxing of muscle groups, starting at the toes and working up to the head and neck of the body. I was told to tighten and then release systematically the tension I had created, and then relax after releasing, and then breath deeply.
These techniques are very similar to some exercises I learned many years ago, as part of creative visualization and meditation. Instead of focussing on achieving a receptive state of mental suggestibility, these relaxation techniques are designed for the specific purpose of releasing muscle tension underlying many of my experiences of pain – especially in major muscle groups in my body, such as cramps in my feet and calf muscles, lower back and upper back muscle aching and tensions, head aches from neck and head muscle tensions. And so forth.
After completing the lesson, and doing all of the tightening, releasing, and relaxing exercises for the various parts of my body I realize that this technique is intuitively a part of pain management strategy for most of us, but only used occasionally. The purpose of the course, I’m sure, is to create a conscious awareness of yet another technique that promises some relief from pain, which we have all practiced once in a while, and bring this technique into daily use, as a part of our Pain Toolbox of resources.
Even after only two of the weekly courses in the Pain Management Institute online course I am beginning to realize the efficacy of this program. It’s success will be in part a result of bringing into conscious control elements of knowledge and behaviour that help ameliorate pain. These techniques are a part of innate knowledge but without conscious awareness of their use and potential benefit we only apply them randomly, rather than on purpose to structure our response to chronic pain.
This is a good start to a realization than I may indeed have the ability to management and improve my experience of and control of pain, not necessarily all at once, or even ever completely, but incrementally somewhat better.
When I started this set of blogs related to pain I was looking for some real improvement in my experience of and control of pain. Even after only a few weeks of analysis and discovery I am more hopeful of making gains.
In this week’s lesson on managing pain, I learned some new concepts about how pain functions in the brain, as well as on how to take something I already knew, and provide a better and more purposeful way to use it to reduce my experience of pain in my body.
The main points of this lesson are as follow:
Pain is experienced in the brain, after information is sent to the brain through neurons transmitted through the spinal cord.
Passively attending to something in your body, other than the pain, will reduce the experience of pain to some degree or other. Sometimes this reduction in the experience of pain is significant, sometimes not.
Actively creating a mechanical distraction, especially in the area of the body which is experiencing the pain, can have a positive effect on that pain.
Interestingly, by creating a mechanical action, such as shaking your hand if you injure a finger or burn yourself, will reduce significantly the amount of pain actually experienced, by actively reducing the signal from the pain receptors in getting to the brain. This takes place in the spinal cord itself, rather than in the brain, so the reduction in the pain can be very effective.
Now, lets stop thinking about the theory of pain, and think about what the theory of pain is teaching me. If I can move my attention from focusing on a specific cause of pain to focussing on some other part of my body, such as my face or ears, for example, I can significantly reduced my experience of the pain. This reduction is my experience of pain is relatively mild, for me, at this point, but it serves to reduce my experience of neuropathic pain from excruciating to merely troubling, a huge gain since when it is only troubling I can often drift off into sleep, which is nearly impossible when my neuropathic pain in my feet is most extreme.
Through practice and the investment of some time I hope to increase the effectiveness of this pain strategy, which holds out some promise in being an active tool to improve my current experience of pain.
The second strategy in this chapter of the course on Mastering Pain, is about a more physically active method, and requires some mechanical actions to be taken. So, when the pain in my hands or feet is most severe instead of mentally focussing on another part of my body, I use an action to draw my attentions elsewhere. This action can be pretty simple, such as playing with my car keys or making a cup of tea, and really paying attention to what I’m doing, rather than dwelling on my neuropathic pain.
You’d be surprised at how often this helps reduce the experience of pain, sometimes by a lot, depending on how absorbing the actions being taken are, and depending on how seriously I focus on them.
Before I started taking this program I think I intuitively already knew some of this information, without knowing the underlying physiology of the spinal cord and the part of the brain responsible for experiencing pain.
A significant part of the benefit of taking this program is the development of a more organized and deliberate strategy for dealing with my everyday pain, in ways that improve my experience of life through my own conscious efforts, without taking opioids or other pain killers to deal with the pain. A major goal of Mastering Pain is to create a Personal Toolbox of resources to assist with what has become a major preoccupation of my life, the toleration and management of chronic pain.
For me, the alternatives to doing this program seem few and very unattractive. I have no willingness to go down the road of pharmaceutical solutions for my pain, unless I absolutely have no choice, in order to tolerate the ever increasing amount of pain in my life. It may be that at some point I won’t be able to function, whatsoever, without pain medications, but I intend to push that day off as long as possible.
Note on formatting
Up until this week I was using a Drop Cap for the first letter of each paragraph in my blog. I recently received feedback from a mobile reader, using her cell phone, that said that the Drop Caps were screwing up her ability to follow my blog, by throwing text all over the place, when viewed on her phone. So I’m not going to use them in this blog from now on.
I’m lost on a road to “God knows where.” Feeling scared. Uncertain. It’s my story right now, and I’ve good reasons for my emotional state. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve been lost or overwhelmed by circumstance. There’s no doubt my situation is difficult, and solutions to my problems seem beyond my current […]
Two years ago I wrote the above blog entry in my other blog “Out Here in Paradise” and re-examining some of the issues with which I was ensnared at that time have shown that progress is possible, even given serious and intractable problems.
Mine isn’t a new story. My health is not good, and is deteriorating over time. It is responding to my focus on trying to find a solution to my worst problems, and a way to cope with the things I won’t be able to control. My financial situation is a disaster, brought about by a series of mistaken steps, all of which seemed to be the correct decisions at the time, but have left me in serious debt, absent an income on which I can rely, and quite uncertain as to the potential for even basic survival, under my current situation.
Two years ago my health was a lot worse than now. At least it seemed so at the time. I had just got out of the hospital where I was extremely ill with pneumonia, with a new diagnosis of COPD, to go alone with my diabetes and chronic arthritic and neuropathic pain. I didn’t know it then but I also had the classic symptoms of fibromyalgia at work. I had a lot of good reasons to be depressed, just based on my health, not to mention a lifetime of fighting with bipolar depression even since my twenties, more than forty years.
So that was where I started to fight against continuing to fall down the Rabbit Hole, and started this blog, where I’ve largely focussed on discussing my attempts to improve my health and the quality of my life by taking intentional control of those things I can control.
If you follow this blog you will have read about my struggles with my medications, and coming to an understanding of how they interact with each other, and have many side effects, some of which still plague me.
You have seen my excitement of discovery when I read Dr. Jason Fung and realized that I can take control of my diabetes by making significant lifestyle changes, including intermittent fasting and radical reduction in the amount of carbohydrate in my daily diet. I came to realize that exercise every day is important, just not exactly for the reasons that I thought. I’ve lost a lot of weight on this journey, with the result being an increase in energy, a renewed sense of hope for the future, and a continued plan to improve matters further.
I’ve written about my challenges with my marriage and how we have evolved to a new set of understandings that allow for the possibility of staying intimate friends, while perhaps moving to a new description of our relationship. In our new relationship as Nesting Partners, rather than Husband and Wife, we talk far more openly about just about everything, than we even did in the past. Which is a good thing.
I’ve written about Polyamory, the state of being committed to being open to romantically or sexually loving more than one person at a time, within ethical boundaries and with full disclosure of the partners to each other and to every new person brought into relationship. We’re both struggling with our new definition but have continued to be loving to each other while figuring out how to move forward into the future.
In that Blog from two years ago I was feeling completely defeated financially as well. Things in this regard haven’t resolved themselves entirely, but I have made strides in dealing with my debts by filing bankruptcy. It wasn’t fun and it isn’t over yet, but it will be soon, and I will be able to move on into some meaningful employment or business. I’ve also learned the outcome of my problems with the Securities Commission, and while I’m far from sanguine about the Decision made, and the sanctions against me, I am in a place where I have begun to see how I can move forward from here. I have accepted entirely that I am accountable for my current financial situation, and if I am to rise again, it will be because I make it so.
Here are a few random thoughts about how I will get out of this mess.
Make a list, detail the issues including both those which seem unsolvable and those which appear to have potential solutions, no matter how unpalatable.
Take concrete steps to begin to address some of the issues. Whether or not I can solve everything, or even most things, I can do something about most things. I desperately need to break the hold that my emotional condition has on me.
Start listening better to the people in my life who care about me. At the moment they seem to believe in me more than do I myself.
Creatively analyzing my situation with a view to possible improvements in it. A little improvement is better than none. Maybe everything isn’t quite as far gone as I currently believe, maybe I can still pull myself back from the brink. Of if not, figure out how to ride out the storm caused by going over the edge.
Let go of the past, embrace the future. What is, is. What has already happened is done, over and can’t be changed. But what has not yet happened, may never happen, or may result in outcomes totally different than anticipated by my fears.
I haven’t entirely let go of the past, and I continue to work on those things from the past that still cause havoc in my life. What can say, two short years later, is that there is hope, and things have actually improved, through hard work, a renewed practice of personal discipline in following my new lifestyle, and a willingness to be open and transparent to my partner, which means a lot less anxiety of both our parts, and a better, if not a little more complicated, redefinition of our lives, both together and apart.