When I sat down to do the research I wanted to do for this article, I typed in the words “Chronic pain” to a journal database and up popped a list of articles on training patients in mindfulness training, meditation, and coping with the pain. As the right side of my head throbbed in pain, this translated to me: “this pain will never stop, learn to live with it” and tears rolled down my cheeks for the 3rd time today. I didn’t want to learn to live with it, I wanted it to fucking go away.
But with all of our medical advances, with how far we’ve come in so many things, pain – especially chronic pain – is still something we’ve yet to quite grasp.
I have been suffering with migraines for 2-3 years now, and seeing a neurologist for 1. I have learned “mind-fullness” over the years, you have to at some point in order to function, and mine aren’t as bad as some migraine sufferers are. I don’t vomit, I haven’t since was 5, I just don’t have the reflex I guess. Most days I can eat, some I can’t. I used to have to go into clinics to get the butt shots (as I like to call them) for the pain, I haven’t for 8 months now. I can get a migraine anywhere from once a week, to 3 or 5, and they can last anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days depending if the Imitrex I’m prescribed decides to work (hint: it doesn’t always). Bonus factoid for readers: Insurance only allows for 9 pills a month, you can only take 2 a day. Do the math, and here’s how much it costs without insurance.
One gets pretty desperate when one is in pain, and good-intending people like to offer “advice.” I’ve tried nearly all of it. Hot showers, cold compresses, massages, trigger/pressure point massages, lavender oil and tea, caffeine, orgasms, inflicted pain as a distraction. Riboflavin is the new hip scientific thing my doctors are raving about, so I’m trying that. And well-intending people are always suggesting to me to try marijuana, but the research has yet to be done and I have bipolar disorder and multiple, albeit insufficient, studies here and here support my personal experience that cannabis can exacerbate mental health symptoms. Shit – today I even when out and got a daith piercing cause why the fuck not? A lot of this, like many things, has little scientific support, just anecdotal evidence. The daith piercing, for example, I put off for a long time because,the Atheistic skeptic that I am said there’s real reason to believe it works. But people say it works, and today I was in crying fucking pain, and my pills didn’t work, so I was ready to give shoving a needle through the cartilage of my ear a go if a handful of people said it worked for them. There isn’t enough research and funding into researching for migraines, so what else is a gal to do? Well, next up for me is the botox shot treatment which, at least from the attached study of 106 patients (more research please….?), 51% reported complete reversal, and 38% partial so here’s hoping.
Putting my personal tale aside, there is something more universal that can be drawn from the reality of experience of pain. I could for selfish reasons encourage you to give to migraine research, , but the issue of pain so much bigger.
As a medical field, we as a species do not have a sufficient, even border-lining on the humane, grasp on pain management. When it comes to end-stage pain, we haven’t a clue what to do. Our patients often end up suffering needlessly for far too long. In a study on the management of pain in elderly patients with cancer, of 4003 patients reporting daily pain 16% received a class 1 pain medication, 32% a class 2, only 26% received morphine. 26% did not receive anything to relieve their pain. The report states that those over 85 were significantly less likely to receive assistance for their pain.
Let that sink in, and put yourself in that hospital bed for a moment.
Now, hopefully you are a person of action so I will end this this some ways to make a change. What can you do about it?
Linked to another blog mainly for consistency because the rest of my list had links….. but yes!! Please don’t… If someone has a disease, or is in pain, we knooooow (kinda) that you mean well with the “have you tried….” but we’ve also probably already heard it, and tried it, many times before, and you are not their Dr. Please just save it and skip to the bottom of this list.
Support Cannabis Research
Despite my personal experience with it, it does help many people with chronic pain – especially those in terminal situations. I support that, and I think you should too. We need more research, for sure, to know what it does help and does not, to divide the anecdotal from the scientific. But if it helps someone, why the hell is it still illegal?
Also see here for more useful information on if it’s not legal in your state. It can be a hard topic, but we all die, and no one wants to suffer needlessly. Know your options.
The link has some lovely ways to do this, but basically, show some love to those you know who are in pain. Hugs are always nice. Educate yourself, be compassionate and understanding. Listen. Love, love love.
What would you do to make a change [this IS solicited ; ) ]? Comment below!