Pain

pain

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?

Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice

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?

Support Death With Dignity

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.

Be Compassionate

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!

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Mental Health: No Stigma

Image result for World Mental Health Awareness

Today is World Mental Health Day, with the 2017 designated theme of “Mental Health in the Workplace.”

There are two huge and simple things we can do as employees and employers in our jobs: help to end stigma, and human kindness.

I live and thrive with bipolar disorder. It wasn’t always that way. I was (mis)diagnosed with depression at 14, and due to a negative stigma around treatment thanks to religion I went untreated for many years. Sure I tried therapy here and there, but fought it until I stopped going. I tried meds until I stopped that too, believing God healed me. Religion tending to feed into stigmas around mental health aside, although that is huge story that could be told, going untreated for so long culminated in a suicide attempt in 2010.

After that, I got onto this antidepressant and that one, struggling through the uninsured system of having a pre-existing condition before ObamaCare was a thing, until I got onto the antidepressant that would trigger my manic episode, 4-days with no sleep, and eventual involuntary hospitalization under a 5150 hold. Not uncommon for someone with bipolar who is misdiagnosed as depressed to be diagnosed this way, but unfortunate.

During all of these instances and hospitalizations, I had jobs. Myself, or my caretaker, usually boyfriend, would have to go to my manager and explain what had happened and where I was. We always went with compete honesty. They always gave complete kindness and confidentiality.

Many years and struggles later, and I’m on a regimen that works. I can report that I am currently more manic than otherwise, and that be ok because I know what it means for me. I know it’s who I am, that I have two main emotional states and where my boundaries lie. I know how to ride the waves, and how to take it easy on myself. Some days I don’t, and some days I need to take a mental health day from everything. Some days I can’t be around people, and some days I’m tackling projects left and right better than anyone around me.

I function. I thrive. I live and I love. I’m a person with a mind, and a heart, and a career. I just happen to also have a disease for which there is no cure – but there is help for.

What we can all do is make it so that speaking about my disease is no more strange and uncomfortable than someone telling  you they cannot have that cookie because they’re diabetic.  My friend who sees things that aren’t there is no more different or strange than my friend with Celiac disease. End the stigma.

And be kind. Be kind to everyone. Always assume the best. It’s so much better for everyone when we are kind to each other. When we don’t say mean things, or assume the worst. When so-and-so calls out for being sick – again – don’t feed the negativity by talking shit about her. You don’t know her story. Be kind, be empathetic and compassionate.

Read more great things you can do with this great article including 5 way to show support this year for mental health.

“Feeling bipolar today” – Stop it.

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You are not being bipolar. You are not a little bipolar at times. It is not funny, so stop saying it.

Bipolar is not mood swings, no not everyone is “a little bipolar”.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by having experienced two polarities: depression, and mania. There are degrees of severity, but no one who experiences the two extremes think it is something to take lightly.

As someone who has been hospitalized for both a manic episode and a depression episode, watch a father go in and out of the hospital throughout the year, it is hell.

Now I’m all for the fluidity of language. It changes, and with how people use it words mean different things. I still say ” that’s gay” at times, and and still can’t seem to shake saying “Jesus fucking Christ”. But this feels different. Maybe it’s because it is personal.

But this is a disease that people fight. I don’t know why anyone would want yo joke about it, or belittle it into being equivalent with life’s natural swings between happy and sad.

Newsflash: happy is not mania, sad is not depression.

I digress.

Reader: What are your thoughts?