Kerry Smith is a former minister, a professional artist, and has suffered with chronic pain for 14 years. He has lectured and written on the topic of chronic pain for several years.
I struggle to stand after waking each day, often grabbing the door facing for balance, clearing my head, and walking to the bathroom for the morning routine that needs no further explanation. I leave the bathroom and walk through the house to the kitchen with pain often shooting down each leg with every step. I fill the coffee machine with water and grinds and start it up, and have a seat at the kitchen table while the coffee brews. I close my eyes and begin breathing deeply, forcing all thoughts out of my head, including the sound of the coffee pot gurgling and spitting. I feel myself getting heavy in the chair as my heart rate slows. The pain has attempted to push through everything and in the quietness of the early morning hours, I have put a rein on it and pushed it out of my mind. Not once or twice, but as in every few seconds when it attempts to squeeze through the recesses in my mind. It is the tool of meditation and my pain is at bay now and I slowly stand up and go over to pour a cup of coffee and start my day. I will go through this exact routine throughout the day when I feel the pain just about to start and I am able to immediately put a cap on it.
This is how my day begins after 14 years of chronic pain, 21 neurological surgeries and procedures, a spinal cord stimulator implanted, failed, and removed, 15 mgs of Oxycontin, three times per day, 10 mgs of Norco for breakthrough pain, and levels of depression leading to contemplations of suicide. This is not to mention the other surgeries the neurosurgeons have wanted to do due to the complications of a spine that looks like a freaking snake!
My story is like so many others that we read about on this web page. Doctors and nurses who would call and leave a voice mail message and tell me that they could no longer fill my pain meds. Surgeries that did not have their desired result, leaving me worse off than before. Images of a spine with discs protruding and out of line. Rods, screws, and cages, highlight my spine, like neon spears and wire. And the level of pain off the charts so far that my doctor lectured me about making sure that I keep the score of my pain level between 1 and 10 (I had told him that my pain was like a 23 and he told me that if I wanted him to be my doctor that I would need to learn to do exactly what he told me to do). You name it and I have heard it and done it or tried it or taken it. For 14 years I have lived with pain. I have been declared disabled, have accrued a mountain of medical debt, have lost some of the ability to do what I love as an artist, and have cried more gallons of tears than I can count.
Before I go a step further, I want you, my pain suffering friends, to realize that my way of managing pain is not for everyone nor should it be. But I discovered a process of pain management that your doctors are not going to tell you about. I have had doctors to admit as such when I shared with them the use of meditation for pain management. The book that has helped most in this area of meditation for managing pain is by Dr. Beth Darnall of Stanford University and the title is “Less Pain/Fewer Pills; Avoid the Dangers of Prescription Opioids and Gain Control over Chronic Pain”. She even includes an enhanced pain management CD when you purchase the book that helps with learning to meditate. And the ability to manage my own pain with the use of meditation has gotten easier each day.
The book is filled with statistics, studies, helpful suggestions, and stories of people like you and me who are trying to live in this terrible prison of Chronic Pain and have found success through managing their pain with meditation. So much is out there that doctors have not told you in regards to the side effects of opiates and other medicines. There is much written on the management of our pain without grabbing a bottle first thing when we wake each day and relying on it to get us through the day. Dr. Herbert Benson has written several books on the biology of belief and on timeless healing. Dr. Scott Brady has a book titled “Pain Free for Life: The 6 Week Cure for Chronic Pain-Without Surgery or Drugs”.
Taking control over our pain is not easy. But the use of pain meds does have side effects. No one is completely sure of the level of impact on our bodies. The use of Dr. Darnall’s book or any book is not a simple fix but a tool that can help us to manage the curse of chronic pain without the complications of pain pills.
Editor’s Note: Kerry’s website is www.kerrysmith.me and is always open to help folks who are fighting the battle with pain.