After the Diagnosis: Finding a New Normal While Living With Chronic Pain

After the Diagnosis: Finding a New Normal While Living With Chronic Pain

By Michelle Peterson.

Finally, you’ve got a name for the chronic pain you’ve been enduring for months (or maybe years or decades). So now what? After getting the diagnosis, it’s natural for your mind to be spinning with questions, concerns, and, yes, sadness. It helps to remember that whatever your diagnosis, others have walked down this road before you and have found a new normal for themselves. Below are tips to help you move beyond the shock of diagnosis and to safely manage your symptoms.

  1. First, find a doctor or other medical professional who specializes in your condition and who you’re comfortable with. Ask him or her about treatment options, including alternative therapies and beneficial lifestyle changes. Ask if you can audio record your appointments (or bring along a friend who takes good notes!).
  2. Become an expert yourself. Learn everything you can about your disease and what activities trigger or relieve symptoms. Advances in chronic pain are happening at a staggering rate, so make it a point to stay informed.
  3. Focus on changing your lifestyle. You have no control over the diagnosis you’ve been given, but you do have control over how you eat, drink, move, and handle stress. This can have a dramatic effect on your physical and emotional well-being.
    • Eating properly can alleviate chronic pain. And conversely, certain foods can make your pain worse. Pain itself as well as certain medications can have a major impact on your nutritional needs. Seek the guidance of a nutritionist who specializes in nutrition and pain.
    • For many people, stress relief leads to pain relief. While it might be tempting to turn to alcohol or binge eating to relieve some of your stress, that puts you at risk for some harmful consequences. Rather, explore healthy alternatives such as talk therapy, relaxation techniques, or mindfulness meditation. According to Psychology Today, “Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent. Accomplished meditators can reduce it by over 90 percent.” Creating a healthy, peaceful home environment complete with a serene meditation space can be invaluable. At your own pace, seek to de-clutter your home, even if it means tackling one closet or one cabinet per month.
    • Move your body! When it’s a chore to get out of bed each day, exercise might be the last thing on your mind, but staying active is an essential part of pain management. Moving can hurt, but not moving will hurt even more in the long run. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s walking, yoga, Pilates, swimming, tai-chi, or anything that gets you up and moving.
  4. Develop a support system. You do not need to handle this on your own. Nobody understands you like someone else who lives with your symptoms. Virtual encouragement and information is available online 24/7. Search Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and even Pinterest. If “in person” is more your style, ask your doctor about support groups in your area or check out Meetup.com.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. At times, you may need to give yourself permission to cancel all plans and do nothing but stay in bed. Don’t feel guilty if you need more sleep than most. Pain is exhausting! Create a positive affirmation or mantra to help you cope on the bad days. As Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”
  6. Be safe. Nearly 1.9 million Americans abuse or are dependent on legal opioids. Painkillers are often a necessary part of pain management, but it is essential that you read and carefully follow the directions for using your pain medication. Familiarize yourself with the signs of dependency and addiction.

Remember that you are still you, and you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, somewhere between 50 and 100 million adults in the U.S. have chronic pain conditions. That’s a lot of people learning to cope with pain. By following the suggestions above, you can be one those who goes beyond coping. With time, you’ll find a new normal that truly works for you.

Featured Photo credit Unsplash by Kyle

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Authored by: Michelle Peterson

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Sue

Id like to add; its an insult to imply that others want to sit around and blame the DEA, CDC and Government but do nothing about it. Well, I do blame them because they have put people between a rock and a hard place. I refuse to see my part in it and view it as Normal.

Sue

I’ll tell you whats not normal and realistic to me; is all the talk about all of these wonderful alternatives like nutritionist, acupuncture, massages, pain management psychologist, cannabis, etc., as if they are easily accessible. Well they are not! They are very costly and not covered by insurance. Most of us can only think about these luxuries and wish we had the resources to have access to them. Try googling; “What does a pain management psychologist cost.” My manged care HMO plan wont pay for these things. I cant even get an appt with a decent primary care. If you have any suggestions as to how I can get Free access to all these; please let us all know.

Were not stupid and its annoying to have these options constantly suggested as if we hadnt thought about it. As usual the government enforces laws without any concern as to the impact it will have on peoples lives. By the way; what exactly does the new normal mean??? Sounds like a condescending cliche to me. I think its more like many times in life we have to accept whats not normal, makes no common sense and down right cruel. In this day and age we have come to a place where people have to cope with pain and no alternatives.

Kirby B Accardo

I am a 22 year Chronic Pain Patients. I have done every Interventional Pain Procedure and somethings that I just tried out of desperation. I encourage everyone who is on Opioid medication to fight back by sending your words to your state and federal representatives including The President of the United States. If we don’t stand up for ourselves who will!

Terry

Reading these comments for months, I have started to get a sort of general idea about chronic pain patients that just kind of hit me today as I read through this weeks comments. First of all let me state that I am a chronic pain patient and have been on 200 mg of oxycodone daily for over ten years, until recently when I had my meds drastically reduced to 90mg daily. I have arthritis in 90% of my joints, I broke my back twice, I’ve broken my hands 5 times, I have CRPS in my legs, feet and hands, I’ve had 19 surgeries on my legs, I’ve dislocated my elbow, shoulder 4 times, I have degenerative disc disease in my back, I have Morton’s neuromas in my feet, I have Raynaud’s syndrome and I had two toes turn black and almost lost them, I broke my wrists 6 times, lots of strained, torn, ruptured tendons and ligaments, tendinitis, carpal tunnel in my right wrist, trigger fingers that I have to forcefully open with my “good” hand, I could literally go on and on, you get the idea, I’m one of you, which may add credence to what I’m about to say. In my case when I was taking 200 mgs of oxycodone daily, my pain level was basically at a four most of the time, very tolerable and I lead a full life and was very active. What I wasn’t doing was trying different physical and mental exercises or therapies to help my situation, like the examples talked about in this latest pain report. I bitched and moaned about how unfair it was cutting my meds so quickly, I blamed the government, DEA, CDC, etc. What I didn’t do was look for alternative methods of reducing my pain. So now I’m committed to feeling better by whatever means possible. I’m seeing a chronic pain psychologist who has been showing me techniques to reduce my pain, I started exercising, I’m doing tai chi (stretching), I’m getting massages, and the best thing I’m doing is changing my attitude, trying to be positive, meditating, and now I feel just as good as when I was taking all the opioids. My point is, there is always more we can do to help ourselves but we get caught in a downward spiral of negativity and hopelessness, and I was no different. I’m 60 years old and I’ve changed myself for the better. It was hard at first but I made up my mind to play the hand I was dealt and now I’m trying to make the best of the time that I have left. So I’m urging you, pleading with you, pushing you to start your life over again, look for solutions, fight for your life, get busy living! WE CAN ALL ALWAYS DO MORE! God bless you all.

LYSSA

I to had OPIOID PAIN MEDS THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY! I NEVER ABUSED THEM,NEVER TOOK MORE THEN I SHOULD HAVE, AND NEVER HAD A BAD U.A. THAT THEY REQUIRED ME TO TAKE.
I did everything they asked me to do, and the clinic gets a $450.000 grant from the government to do SUBOXEN and they decided that they are taking everyone of the Ops, and you had no choice.

I was taken off 30 mg. Methadone and 50mg oxymoron in 30 days, I wanted to die! But that was nothing compared to what life is like now! Ha Ha LIFE….. WHEN YOU HAVE PAIN LIKE THIS THERE IS NO LIFE! They have forced us to make decisions that we’d never dream possible! Just to get the pain to go away!

I FEEL FOR YOU BILL G. BUT PLEASE DON’T LET THEM WIN!
IT SEEMS HOPELESS SOMEDAYS AND TRUST ME I HAVE BEEN THROUGH HELL!
SOMEBODY CARES ABOUT YOU! I CARE ABOUT YOU!
I DON’T WANT TO LOSE ANOTHER PERSON TO SUICIDE BECAUSE OF THIS GOVERNMENT!
PLEASE TAKE CARE AND WE ALL NEED TO WRITE THE CONGRESS, PRESIDENT, MAKE THEM SICK OF YOUR NAME!
IT’S MY MISSION TO GET A GOVERNMENT EMAIL EVERYDAY!I
THANK YOU FOR THE ARTICLE TOO.

Thank you for your article. In my case, I had a “CURE” for my chronic pain. It was taken away by politicians and the very doctors who put me on opiods 20 years ago. I have tried everything you stated in your article along with the opiods. It’s why they worked so well. Now suicide has become one of my treatment options. I have no life. I can no longer work enough hours to support myself. Because of my reduced hours I lost my health insurance. Irony I don’t want to die but one if these horrible nights may be all I can take and the pain will make it happen. I am sooo angry at the government and the chicken shi- doctors. I WILL DO NO HARM…..its the premise of being a doctor. In my case and thousands of others, it’s exactly what is being done. Follow the money…..the people who own the methadone and suboxone clinics…..they will make 100s if billions of dollars on the backs of suffering people. Yes cure all the herion- fentanyl addicts that took away my pain meds. Why I know your article meant well, you have no idea what is really happening. Either that or you just don’t care. Take the time and write and honest article..

John Tht.

It is never easy finding the new you in all this turmoil, a diagnosis in itself may not bring any relief.

The key is to be realistic set SMART goals find what works just for you plus introduce more of that. Develop a support network use those people who will get you towards these goals, set small achievable targets.

I try to introduce aspects of who I was previously so those traits continued, be positive look to wards the future focus on what you can do not what you expects to still be able to do. Similar problems from alternative waypoints may differ be creative ask for help when needed.

Those supporting you too have had a lifestyle change so keep that communication going.

Be kind to yourself as you develop strategies toward that new normal it is not easy. Inside already is the blueprint of the new you take your time to learn new things, take care.

John Tht.
UK.

Jul

Pain is a very annoying feeling that never stops…. similar to your heart beating untill your dead.
But unlike pain, you are never aware of this.
Pain issues are the worst.

Randy

Feel good and talking about feeling good
That just hasn’t helped. Maybe I’m just not the mental giant that some few are. I keep on keeping on , I walk I can drive a car, I can get my own rollator out and put it back in the car. I can walk down a mall in agony with my rollatot. With people looking at me like I’m some kind of lepper. But that’s ok I keep on keeping on. Panting like I used to do after running a mile or sprints or even power lifting heavy weights. I was on a pain management opoids regimen that allowed me to do these things almost pain free. I never took more than I needed, never felt the euphoria everyone talks about. That opoids creates in your brain. Never used street drugs, stopped drinking alcohol consumption as it was contraindicated with opoids use. Meditation has allowed me to think a little clearer while in pain. I never needed to while on opoids as I was never in this much pain. I tried several of the other modalities prior to starting my opoids use. None of which have the lasting relief of the opoids. It’s nice some can be helped with a few good excuse or idea to help. But as most people know drugs all drugs effect different people differently. Have a wonderful day.