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Managing pain with the power of the mind

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Kitkat
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Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Kitkat on Tue 6 Jan 2015 - 11:50

I was so pleased to find this article, as it is just so in sync with my way of thinking and how I tend to deal with situations (not just the chronic pain thing).   This is actually something I've believed in and practised since schooldays - and it works for me, but I have always had problems trying to explain it to others.  This article explains it perfectly!

I actually went to add the link to the site (called "Ouch") to my Favourites - only to find that it's already been added previously!  Hmmm ... I've obviously found something of interest there in the past and possibly saved it to have a look at later, then forgot about it.  

Anyway, this report has been published on the BBC website today:

Vidyamala Burch is helping people in pain through the practice of "mindfulness", the act of paying more attention to the present moment. But it took her many years to discover it for herself first.

When people are having serious difficulties, it can bring out the extreme sides of people's personalities, says Vidyamala Burch, a 55-year-old pain management practitioner based in Manchester. "One is the denial, pushy, driven side and the other is the more passive, overwhelmed, depressive side."

Burch lives with chronic pain having acquired two spinal injuries at an early age. The first happened at 16 when she lifted somebody from a swimming pool during water safety practice. The second was the result of a car accident five years later.

Subsequent surgery and years of wear and tear have added to her toll. "I've got a paralysed bowel, a paralysed bladder and my walking is impaired," she says. She admits she dealt with it all very badly in the early days, pushed herself too much and ignored her extra needs.

As a result, her body had a physical breakdown at the age of 25, and she found herself in intensive care. Whilst there, an Anglican chaplain led her through a meditation which changed her way of thinking. "I had a real ah-ha moment," she says. "I thought wow, I have a mind that can help me manage my situation."

A lengthy period of rehabilitation followed in which she tried many different relaxation techniques. Three years later, she found that one, called Mindful Meditation, worked well for her.

Now more widely known as mindfulness, it can be described as the act of focusing on the present moment, acknowledging thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. It is thousands of years old and Buddhist in origin, but has become popular as a therapy in the West in recent years.

Though perhaps most commonly associated with tackling mental health difficulties, and strongly promoted by the NHS for this, one of its first applications in this part of the world was to help with pain.

Burch says that when you have severe discomfort, there's a "rising up" in your body that exclaims "this hurts and I don't like it".

"The intuitive response is to turn away from it and try and get on with life in spite of your pain," she says. "With mindfulness, what we do is we turn towards it, to investigate what is actually happening in each moment."

In 2000, now ordained as a Buddhist, she found herself struggling to find paid work which she could physically manage. The idea occurred to her that she might be able to help others with pain on a professional basis.

She started a social enterprise called Breathworks where people with chronic pain take an eight-week course to learn how mindfulness could help them cope better with their physical symptoms.

Burch says some of her students were able to get back to work after a lengthy period of unemployment following the course. Others say that their sleep has been transformed.

The programme has been taught to thousands of participants, in over 20 countries.

Burch is now a leader in this area and her company also trains practitioners. She sits on an all-party parliamentary group to incorporate mindfulness meditation into the NHS.

From stress reduction to pregnancy and birth treatments, mindfulness programmes can be quite similar. But she says there are "subtle but important" aspects of her pain relief course which set it apart.

The centre is called Breathworks because of the focus on breathing. She teaches students to acknowledge the tension which is causing pain and to "breathe into it", which she says reduces impact on the body.

Though it's common to find movement and exercise on other courses, Burch says that it might be "inappropriate" when working with people who are in pain.

"We have adapted the 'mindful movement' so that the primary emphasis is on being aware as you move, rather than how far you can move," she says.

"You go to open a door, you've got discomfort, you tense against that movement and your pain will get worse."

Burch says her methods for pain also differ from others by focusing more on daily living.

Through practising mindfulness in her own daily life, she has discovered how much time she can sit at her computer without a flare-up - "I wrote both of my books in bursts of 20 minutes," she says.

"People with chronic pain tend to live in a boom-and-bust cycle where on a good day, you really go for it. Then you have a big flare-up as a consequence."

She calls this the "over-activity, under-activity" cycle.

"We get people to keep diaries of all their activities for one week, noting down what causes their pain to flare-up and what doesn't, and which ones improve the pain."

Compassion and kindness are a big part of the process and lots of people reportedly blame themselves for their difficulties. But some conditions you have to learn to live with because they aren't going to disappear no matter how determined a person is, or how strong the drugs are.

"There's something very beautiful about learning to walk beside whatever difficulty you've got, with dignity, acceptance and grace," says Burch.

"The fighting language in our culture around beating cancer or doing something in spite of a disability says that we should be able to overcome everything," she says.

"The consumerist culture says that there should be something out there that will make me better. But if you're living with a chronic condition, you might not get better."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-30534749
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Curious on Tue 24 Nov 2015 - 3:24

The power of our minds is amazing, something that has worked for me is to tell myself daily, that I feel good and am healthy.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Whiskers on Tue 24 Nov 2015 - 10:41

Doesn't work for me.  If I'm suffering with flu, my head aches and my nose and ears all blocked up, no amount of telling myself I feel good and I am healthy is going to make it go away.  Why? because myself knows I am just lying to myself! nuts   Taking a tablet or some medicine is the only thing thats going to make me feel better.
Just being realistic here.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Stardust on Tue 24 Nov 2015 - 14:33

It's worked for me, but it takes a certain amount of concentration.



Be grateful for even the smallest thing, blessings come in many disguises.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Curious on Wed 25 Nov 2015 - 1:53

It works for me, for many years now I say this daily, and I can't remember the last time I had a cold or anything else health wise.

I actually say, I look good, I feel good and am in perfect health. I guess it takes a belief in something for it to work.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Jamboree on Wed 25 Nov 2015 - 4:54

It's what Buddhists call neuroplasticity.  "Mindfulness" definitely does work -- and has been scientifically proven to boot.   yes nod  
Psychology professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have done some extensive research recording gamma waves in the brains of meditating monks and relating the type of electronic brain impulses they create while meditating, and the positive effect it produces in connection with health and overall wellbeing (happy/sad etc).  It's also what Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is all about, and that's been used in clinical psychology and counselling and stress management programmes since the early 1970s.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Whiskers on Wed 25 Nov 2015 - 22:54

A few years ago there was a thing doing the rounds called "think yourself thin".  That didn't work for me either. hanged
I did try.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Whiskers on Wed 25 Nov 2015 - 23:09

Hi Jamboree.  Nice to see you back.  wave
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Kitkat on Thu 26 Nov 2015 - 19:33

Well, I will have the chance to put it to the test, literally - on Wednesday (2nd), as I have been booked in for an urgent hysteroscopy - which they're going to do while I'm still awake!  No anaesthetic.  scared

Had ultrasound and other prods and probes yesterday - no probs, I'm used to all this stuff over the past few years - BUT ..... HUGE BUT   ...   this is a different story altogether, because I've had this procedure done before (about 4 years ago) - only it was under general anaesthetic that time.  When I woke up from the surgery I was in absolute hellish agony, with the most excruciating pains I have ever experienced in my whole life (and my pain threshold is very high) - these pains were coming at me in waves and the attacks were so bad I was wriggling and writhing down the bed with my feet kicking out over the end of the bed - the only reason I didn't end up on the floor at the end of the bed was because I was attached to a drip and obviously that was keeping me literally just hanging on!  The docs and nurses were all congregating around and they kept changing whatever liquid it was that was in the drip - then asking me is that any better?  Noooooooooooooooooooo .... nothing was making it any better.  I remember the sister then asking me at one stage then "How is the pain now?"   I replied that I had not had an attack since the last time she asked.  She said ah, that's good - it's actually been a whole 10 minutes then (without pain), so whatever it was they had put in the drip had obviously done the trick.

So - this is the exact same procedure I've got to have on Wednesday, except I will be awake all the way through.  I am NOT looking forward to this atallatall. crybaby  

... especially after reading this pale  peepdoor

http://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/advice-support-40/coping-cancer-serious-illness-575/1063350-anyone-had-painful-outpatient-hysteroscopy-all.html
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by mac on Fri 27 Nov 2015 - 0:32

Not even a local anaesthetic?  Crying or Very sad
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Whiskers on Fri 27 Nov 2015 - 19:46

mac wrote:Not even a local anaesthetic?  Crying or Very sad

No way KK!  You going to have a local surely?  surprised
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Kitkat on Tue 1 Dec 2015 - 18:27

Well, I haven't been given the choice (for a local anaesthetic).  Maybe tomorrow they will give me the chance to request it.  Historically, anaesthetic of any kind doesn't seem to be something that agrees with me - even just the stuff they give you at the dentist.  For one thing, they usually have to give me a higher dose than average before it works - and even then it doesn't always do the trick.  I suspect also (because of what happened with the last hysteroscopy I had), they might actually need me to feel exactly when and where I am experiencing the pain (or "discomfort" as they put it  Neutral ) so they can more accurately decipher what's wrong - and also prevent doing any further damage which might only come to notice once I come to. 
In the bumph that they gave me to read, it says "The procedure may be uncomfortable and you may experience some cramping (like a period pain).  However, it does not last very long.  If it is too uncomfortable you must tell the doctor or nurse and the hysteroscopy will be stopped."
It also says "It is recommended that you take some pain relief one hour before your procedure.  Either Paracetamol or Ibuprofen are suitable, providing you have taken this medication before."
Well of course I already take a very strong painkiller (slow release Tramadol) on a daily basis (though that doesn't seem to have any effect on the excruciating jarring pain that I get when I have to lie on my back - as I will have to for this procedure crybaby ).  It's possible that the Tramadol deadens the effect somewhat but certainly doesn't stop it happening or make it go away.  Maybe I will just double up on my usual morning dose tomorrow.  I have morphine sulphate at home which was prescribed way back and which I use on the really bad occasions when pain is just totally unbearable - but those occasions are few and far between, as I think I have learned a method of pain avoidance over the years - and would normally avoid putting myself voluntarily in such a position as this procedure entails!  I will get to the hospital early anyway and see what they advise as to the do's and don'ts pre-op.
The appointment letter actually says it's for a Hysteroscopy +/- endometrial biopsy.  I suppose the +/- must mean I will have an endometrial biopsy (whatever that is!) done at the time also if necessary - depending on what they find.

I am now starting to feel quite nervous about it all.  No - 'nervous' is the wrong word ... 'anxious' I suppose would be more appropriate.  I'll just be glad when tomorrow is over and done with.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Whiskers on Wed 2 Dec 2015 - 20:42

Hope everything was OK for you today KK.  Thinking of you.  happyheart
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Curious on Wed 2 Dec 2015 - 21:19

I hope all went well K.K. and that you have a speedy recovery.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Kitkat on Thu 3 Dec 2015 - 15:19

Thanks guys.

I got there in good time and the plan was to have a little meditation beforehand, so as to be "in the zone" so to speak, throughout the procedure.  That plan was scuppered though because there was a large wide-screenTV screen domineering (or dominating?) the whole of the small waiting room, set to the BBC news channel which was covering the discussion and voting on whether or not 'we' should add to the heartache and destruction already being experienced in the land that is Syria. (We now know the result - one that IMO will turn out to be a huge mistake,  Evil or Very Mad   but nevertheless, that is what's happening ......)

The procedure itself was horrible. (In the end I had just opted for 2 Paracetamol which I took before I left the house). The morphine would've been too risky as I had to drive back home again, so I had decided against it to be on the safe side. As it turned out though, I could really have done with it! Was very painful and uncomfortable during ... but I was expecting that.  The two medics who were carrying out the gruesome practice tried their best to engage me in conversation, at the same time giving me a running commentary on what was happening.  I realised that this is a probably tried and tested psychological method intended to distract and relax people going through these not-very-nice ordeals.  That mostly likely works for some, but I personally didn't welcome it as it was getting in the way of my own intended mind-destraction idea - where I could imagine myself somewhere far away from there, perhaps up a mountain or on a beach somewhere, doing something that I enjoy.  Unfortunately, well-intentioned as it may have been, I couldn't get away from their intrusive chatter - or the pain and discomfort that went with it!  Would have been so much better (for me) to have had some music there in the background and leave all the chatter for later.  The music definitely helped when I was having my daily radiotherapy sessions - when everyone leaves the room and you are stuck in this 'spacecraft' all by yourself, in the most ridiculous of positions, having to stay crucially still without moving a muscle while the 'operators' shoot the radiation through you from another room while watching through a tiny window.  I remember the music was essential at those times for transporting you away from the stark, clinical reality of what was happening ... I found myself actually looking forward to it at those times (the music, I mean ...).

Anyway - no music yesterday.  Just lots of chatter - and discomfort. 
They found a polyp, which they removed. This will be sent to lab for examination, but they reckon there's nothing to worry about there and the news will be good.
It was when they were finished doing whatever they had to do - that it really hit me. The paaaaaain .... oooof! Attacking in waves. And I then started to feel sick ... kept burping and I thought I was going to get sick. At same time they kept asking me are you feeling alright, are you feeling dizzy - Well I wasn't (at least didn't think I was) but I had apparently gone white as a sheet and they thought I was going to pass out.
They decided to keep me in for a while, for observation and monitoring, and because I wasn't in a fit state to be going home at that stage. As I was the first to be 'done' that morning and there were other people in the waiting room (who were all apologised to and informed there would be a delay with all appointments ... I did feel sorry for them) ... they decided to send me upstairs to a ward where I would have a proper bed etc and - the main thing - get a bit of sleep! The whole way up there the pain was excruciatingly uncomfortable.  They had sent down a bed on wheels which then had to make its way back to the ward (with me in it).  Seemed like we travelled for miles getting there; every tiny little turn and jerk sent a further wave of pain through my very being.  Going in and out over the threshold of the elevator was the worst.
I must have gone off to sleep pretty much as soon as I got up there. I remember the nurses asking me questions and me answering that it hurt to talk, I just wanted to sleep ... (in other words Shutup, leave me alone and go away! ) Next thing I remember was waking up, realising that I was totally pain-free(!) and looking at the clock. 3 hours had passed! A nurse told me that the ones that had done the procedure had come up to see how I was and I was apparently fast asleep at that stage.

So I came home, feeling okay but still sleepy and went straight to bed.  Slept till late this morning.
Glad it's all over now. I won't know the official results until my appointment with the consultant on the 9th, but from what I gather so far, there is nothing to worry about. It's the polyp that was causing the bleeding. That has now been removed and it doesn't seem to be cancerous.

And now I've got some serious best-medicine-sleep-catching-upping to do
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by mac on Thu 3 Dec 2015 - 17:05

Jeez what an ordeal!  It was horrible just to read about!  Man you must be emotionally and physically shattered.  Hope you can now rest and try to switch off after such a shocking ordeal.  Fingers crossed for a good outcome and that you get that result soon!!!
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Whiskers on Thu 3 Dec 2015 - 21:41

Phew! pale At least its all over now KK. They found the problem and got rid of it, that must be a relief. Now you just need to hear the consultant confirm what the medics said, that they think theres nothing more to worry about.
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by mac on Tue 22 Dec 2015 - 23:47

How are you now, KK?
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Kitkat on Wed 23 Dec 2015 - 0:35

mac wrote:How are you now, KK?

I'm grand now, thank you mac. sunny   Consultant has confirmed that all is OK.  

All the yukky things are over now for this year - there was a load of 'em bunched up together all happening round about the same time. (One of them I won't know the result until well into the new year ( https://krazykats.forumotion.co.uk/t14p250-kitkat-s-kk-blog#5454 ) but not even going to think about that until it happens.  Now I can relax and just enjoy Christmas. yay  
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by Kitkat on Thu 24 Dec 2015 - 21:28

Kitkat wrote:Now I can relax and just enjoy Christmas.

Spoke too soon.  Crying or Very sad    The dreaded 'brown envelope' arrived (surprisingly very quickly) - found it late yesterday evening when I got home and the content is not good.  I needed 12 points.  They gave me 10.  Those 2 points mean I lose the motability level in the transfer from DLA to PIP (from Enhanced which the DLA gave me -to 'Standard Mobility' even though there has been no change of circumstances, and that means after 19th January I will no longer have my car.  crybaby   I am gutted, devastated - but not really all that surprised, going by all the similar stories I have been hearing about.  I am entitled to request a mandatory review and if, as probably likely they respond by saying they will not change the decision - then ....  it's Appeal and Tribunal time again.  head-bang    That of course can be a long, stressful, drawn-out process and in the meantime I am without my lifeline.   pale

Lovely Christmas present - and of course their offices are closed now, till 29th, so I can't even ask for the review till then.  

There really, really is no end to it ...  You know the saying "Just when you think it's safe ... etc etc ..."   rock
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Re: Managing pain with the power of the mind

Post by mac on Thu 24 Dec 2015 - 22:13

Jeez that's a real bummer.  I'd read and heard about these damned reviews and I'm really sorry to hear your rotten news.

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