This month I did Peter Fernando’s Month of Mindfulness for Chronic Pain. This was a special course especially for people like me who ‘suffer’ from chronic pain or illness. He gave us some guided meditations, sent us regular emails with useful ideas about pain/illness to ponder and a few podcast chats to help us along the way. The course was great as we were able to go at our own pace, in our own time and pick and choose the meditations to suit. I think I will be working with the material Peter has provided for another 2-3 months as this course has been a baby step forward for me.
Overall I found the course quite interesting and a lot more challenging than I expected. I think this is mostly because at the start of the course I was still struggling to accept the situation and the fact that I need to adapt my lifestyle to suit my hips. So having spent the last year ignoring the pain and trying to avoid reality, I found sitting (or lying) for 10-30mins a day to meditate and reflect about my pain a little confronting. This was exactly what I needed though as it was time to start dealing with the emotions surrounding the pain which has been with me every day for the last 2 years.
The course was great and I managed to do a meditation at least every 2nd day. On day one I noticed how the meditations helped me to instantly relax, and as the month progressed I noticed a change in the way that I think about my pain. The pain is still there, but the suffering and anxiety around it has definitely reduced.
The key thing I learnt this month is that while I can’t do much about the physical pain, I can reduce the suffering the pain causes. This in turn reduces pain because the suffering inevitably has a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. I still get a little frustrated with not being able to do everything I want to, and I still have days when I worry about my hips and what the future has in store for me. But all and all I am feeling happier, I don’t feel the pain defines me and I am not letting it take over my life.
Peter’s key message that sums up the course is “We are always perfect, just as we are. Right now. Right here. This body. This mind.” I have noticed that with this seed firmly planted in my mind, I am less concerned about having a clear diagnosis and a “fix” to this pain. Now when I feel the sharp ‘listen to me’ pain, I acknowledge it, I listen to how I am feeling, acknowledge my thoughts/emotions, take action to relieve the pain (if possible) and then get on with my day. I find this approach a lot more useful than ignoring the pain and mindlessly pushing through it.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying pain is my friend. I’d much rather it went away and never came back… but while it’s with me, I might as well learn to live with it. The meditation definitely helps me live a happier life with my pain.
Today I have FINALLY come to realise that there is no hiding from chronic pain. By golly I’ve tried so hard to retain my ‘normal’ active life; but my body is telling me enough is enough.
This weekend I was supposed to be singing in two concerts and do two singing workshops. I was excited because it was going to be my 1st concert without crutches, but then my body told me it had other plans and I came down with a throat infection. This morning my body was feeling achy and my throat feels like it has razors so singing today wasn’t an option. Instead I slept in, rested and bought a new bed which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but never made time. While walking slowly home I realised that it was probably good I didn’t sing today as I’ve been feeling so tired over the last month and I really did need to rest. Then when I got home I got a copy of the report from my pain assessment at the hospital which felt like a slap of reality and definitely confirmed that resting was a good idea.
“It may be that her body is trying to tell her that she cannot physically do all the things that she used to be able to do and so she will have to decide what things are important and worth pursuing and what things she will have to be left”.
Not great english, but we get the picture. Given I’ve spent the last month feeling exhausted, spent 2 months recovering from a tummy bug and my pain levels are creeping up… my body is shouting out from some TLC. I really need to take a hard look at my current lifestyle and look after myself better. I am suffering because I am not making yoga or sleep a priority.
The upshot of the pain assessment was that I am doing well but need help coping with managing the pain both emotionally and practically. I need a more balanced approach to pain management and need help with pacing. The good news is they were impressed with the work I did in India (4 weeks of yoga therapy) and agree with my approach to reduce the medications. I am on a waiting list to get in with a pain psychologist which I know will be useful even though it doesn’t make me feel great .
Tonight I’ve had a wee cry (as you do after being slapped in the face with a dose of reality), have finished feeling sorry for myself and now I am moving onwards and upwards. I realise I need a means to vent my frustration and thoughts as I come to terms with the fact that I am likely going to have to live with this pain for a long time. I’ve put off starting a blog for 2 years because I thought my hip injury would be well and truly sorted by now. Its funny, I thought it’d be a bad thing to write down what was happening to me… I guess that was my way of running away from the pain and its effects on my life. I think I thought that perhaps writing about the pain might make it stick. In reality though, I think (hope) I write about the pain perhaps I will find some freedom from the suffering it causes.
I am a 32 year old kiwi girl who has hip pain. It started with an accident at the gym over 2 years ago. I’ve had surgery to clean up a torn ligament and some torn cartalidge. The surgery was semi-successful as I am better than I was pre-op however I am now suffering from chronic hip pain which is having quite an impact on my life. I used to be very active and I feel like this hip pain is holding me back. Its painful, frustrating and tiring. I’ve been told I have mild Cam/Pincer FAI + mild dysplasia, but the pain I am in is most likely to be caused by the initial injury and surgery.
Chronic pain can be very isolating and I can tell my friends and family are a little bored of hearing about the hip pain. This blog is just a space for me to process what I am going through and share my experiences with others who may be in a similar situation.