Managing Medications

Medications can be a complex and baffling area, with many chronic pain sufferers using a combination of prescription and over- the-counter drugs to combat their symptoms and achieve day-to-day normality. There is also usually an element of trial and error in finding meds that work, and what works today may not work next month. Lastly, many pain meds are highly addictive, so dosing and proper use become very important. All of these factors—plus the fact that most of us are not chemists—can lead to a lot of misapprehension and confusion regarding what we can and should take. Do You Know Your Pharmacist?One of the most under-utilized resources in health care is the pharmacist. For those many millions who visit only big-box pharmacies, seeing one of a number of interchangeable random people in white coats, giving your name and receiving a pill bottle with no explanation, then this is very understandable. Why would you engage with this stranger who acts as little more than a cashier in dis…

Distraction Tips

Suffering through an acute pain attack is hard work for anyone, regardless of their level of experience with pain and expectation of pain. Many chronic pain sufferers feel acute pain every now and then - just like everyone else - and these acute attacks can be caused by something totally unrelated to their chronic pain (like a stomach bug or a broken bone) or they can be an additional symptom of an already-known underlying problem.

Regardless of the cause, acute pain happens, and it has to be gotten through. You may have meds that help - you may be given new meds that help. Or you may be waiting for the meds to kick in. Or, they may have kicked in, but you still feel pain and have to wait it out.

The crucial element of acute pain is waiting. Waiting it out - you just have to find a way to pass the time until the pain subsides, either of its own accord or because of medical intervention. You have to find a way to distract yourself, and this can be very difficult if it's severe pain, …

Mental Health Care - A Daily Reality

Sustained pain or illness will have an effect on mental health. There is no maybe about this. Mind and body are inextricably intertwined and medicine is increasingly aware of this. Patients are treated as a whole and not as a collection of parts, and you too must consider yourself as a whole, with your emotional, psychological and physical well-being all equally important.

Pain psychologists, cognitive behavioural therapists, psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists are extremely important resources that you cannot overlook. No matter what you need help with–whether it's using cognitive behavioural training to reframe your emotional reactions to pain, or seeing a counsellor to talk through your loss of self-esteem, or visiting a psychologist to work through your feelings of anger and grief–there are resources available to you.
Many health insurance programs cover (at least partially) the cost of mental health care. When this isn't an option, there will be others. There are a…

Pain Awareness Month

September is Pain Awareness Month in the U.S. This means September is all about pain - educating, raising awareness, advocating, and having some probably slightly awkward conversations. 
The Pain Awareness movement started off pretty small, way back in 2001, but it's now a fairly large national movement, encompassing organizations, health care professionals and chronic pain patients. 
There are lots of ways you can participate and engage others during September: Speak with friends and family. Let them know it's Pain Awareness Month. Ask them about their chronic pain, or tell them about yours. Start a dialogue!Like the movement on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms. Use the hashtag #painawarenessTake part in social media challenges.Become an advocate for the US Pain Foundation.Buy an awareness bracelet or wear blue (the movement's color).Download the US Pain Foundation's specialized toolkit, and get out there in your community!Attend an event.Pain is silen…

Life Hacks for Living with Chronic Pain

Find taking care of your home and family while living in chronic pain too much to deal with? Here are some tips for managing chronic pain while managing daily life in the home:

Slow CookerSlow cookers let you throw all of the ingredients in, then forget about it. The meal will cook itself without any further effort from you. This works for preparing meals in advance, for example, setting it at night for the next day’s breakfast.
Batch CookingBatch cooking similarly helps with cooking fatigue; when able, make a whole batch of something, then freeze it into individual portions, to be reheated whenever.
Place Items in ReachPlace the items you use more often on accessible shelves, to avoid having to stretch or bend over. This will save you on the bad days, by making whatever chore you’re doing as easy as possible.
Tidy As You GoTackle chores in small, bite-size pieces. This avoids unnecessary fatigue, and relieves pressure. If you tidy up as you go, you won’t be faced with a single large task…

You're Not Crazy

I was watching the Stephen Colbert interview with Anderson Cooper last night, and he said something really interesting (well, lots of interesting things, but one that stood out):

The thesis of his show is "You're Not Crazy".

A lot of people have asked me recently why I wrote my newest book, "Taming Chronic Pain," and I've searched for a smart answer that would make sense and sound right in an interview. The truth is that I didn't have a strong reason behind writing it when I started, I was making notes for myself, and then thought it made an interesting side project. And it sort of snowballed from there.

But as Stephen Colbert was speaking, I realized that this was what I was trying to do with the book, both for myself and for anyone who reads it:

You're not crazy.
So so so many people in chronic pain are told they're not really in pain, they're imagining it, are just lazy, need to man-up, get over it, have a mental health issue instead, it c…


Taming Chronic Pain: A Management Guide for a More Enjoyable Life is now available to buy, review and generally love!

THANK YOU to everyone who made this book possible, and to everyone buying, reading, reviewing and generally interacting with the book. Together we can reignite sensible dialogue about pain management and chronic pain, and remove the stigma so many in the chronic pain community face.Order your copy here.

Book Release This Week!

Get excited folks! My new book Taming Chronic Pain is coming out THIS WEEK! A practical, easy-to-read guide to everything you need to know when living with chronic pain; this book will help you live better and happier regardless of your diagnosis or your lack of one!

Chronic pain is massively, surprisingly prevalent - over 20% of us will suffer from it. So the how to's of living with it should be well-known, accessible and discussed, to help all of us! Join the conversation, educate yourself, and help educate others about living with chronic pain, and together we can shine a light on this poorly understood area.

Here's a sneak peek inside the book, to whet your appetite and get those orders going!

There's plenty more where that came from! Order your copy today!

Travelling with Illness

Travel is supposed to be fun, right? Fun, relaxing, a break from it all... inherently enjoyable. I'm sure those of you with kids are now yelling at me, but I bet even louder yells are coming from the chronic pain community. Cos guess what?

Travelling with chronic illness sucks.
Getting yourself comfortable and managing your health is hard enough at home, with all of your supports, meds, routines, and home comforts. Now try taking all of that away, and still managing. Cos that's what travel with chronic illness looks like.

You can try to ersatz your way to a home-from-home style vacation, of course. Get yourself as close to comfortable as possible. For example, last week we went away to a cottage. It was less than a four hour drive away from our home, we booked a place with every modern comfort (including a single level for the main rooms to avoid stairs), we packed a car load of stuff including food, meds, pillows, and healthcare devices... and even doing all this, it was not q…