A Pained Life: Changing Our Thoughts

A Pained Life: Changing Our Thoughts

I was thinking about cognitive therapy the other day.  By recognizing “errors in thinking” we can change the way we think and feel.

It occurs to me that we as pain patients often have our own errors.

Years ago I was told that ultimately the skin on the left side of my forehead would break down, the result of numbness from a procedure.

Later I noticed a problem in that area.  I had a sore that was red and even bleeding at times.  I knew it could be skin cancer, but I feared more it was finally happening: I was losing the skin.

After 2 years I finally gave in and saw a doctor.  It was a good thing I did. It was a basal cell cancer.

512px-Qualia_of_colourError number #1: Playing doctor. 

I am not a doctor, but I play one in my own life.  Not a good idea.

Error number #2: Assumption. 

Just because it is in the area of the pain, or a similar sensation elsewhere, it does not necessarily follow it has to do with the pain.

Error number #3: Denial.

It astounds me when someone in a support group writes, “I have chest pain.  What should I do?”

Or someone else asks, “My leg is all bruised. I can’t walk on it. What should I do?”

I am a big proponent of online support groups.  But if you’re hurting and something has changed, an online group is not what you need.  You need to go to the doctor!  Post online while you are in the waiting room.

Sometimes you don’t want to find out if something is bad.  I know that feeling. And usually we’re right.  But the time spent waiting for people in your support group to respond is not always a friend.

Error number #4: Resistance. 

A number of years ago I lost my neurologist because he lost his privilege to prescribe narcotic medications.  My GP now writes for my meds, but I know I should find another neurologist, just on general principles. But I don’t, despite repeatedly telling myself I need to find one.

Not finding a specialist or not doing a recommended therapy is procrastination at its worse. It’s better to be prepared and to do therapies early than waiting and getting worse.

Error number #5: Entitlement. 

The other day someone wrote, “I want to sue my doctor.  He won’t give me the meds I want.”

A variation would be, “I want to sue my doctor because he ‘fired’ me.”

Sometimes we expect doctors to do our bidding for us.  It’s frustrating when we are told, “No.  I will not give you that medicine. I want you to try something else first.”

Even worse when we hear, “I do not want to keep you as a patient.”

It is a doctor’s right to decide who they want to keep as a patient.  It is their decision what drugs should be prescribed.

The last error sounds harsh.  I was uncomfortable writing it, afraid of a backlash.

(Let me add, I have been there, done that.)

The other errors, not so much.  They are mistake traps that I find myself falling into way too often.

Carol Levy

Carol Levy

Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.”  Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a disease.

Carol is the founder of the Facebook support group “Women in Pain Awareness”. Her blog “The Pained Life” can be found here.

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

For more information, read our User Agreement and Terms of Use.

Authored by: Carol Levy, Columnist

newest oldest
Notify of

You have said it so well Carol.
Support groups are to support, not diagnose.
Doctors don’t and can’t possibly know everything, but a good doctor is normally prepared to admit that and pass you to someone who should. But it is up to us, to know our own bodies and to recognize when something isn’t right and go to the doctor.


Sometimes I am stuck with following my own instinct or the taking the doctors advice. I usually go with what my body is telling me. If I am in pain for over a week maybe two, I go see the doctor. If is see something new that is painful, bleeding, sore, does not disappear within a week, ten days, I see the doctor. I think women really need to know themselves and their bodies.