Distraction and Chronic Pain

I read somewhere that “Distraction is the most powerful analgesic of all.” I cannot find who said it, but I want to give thanks to this idea.

The Action of Distraction

When I am really focused on something and especially if I am laughing, my pain is not as strong. Sometimes, I don’t notice it at all. “…distractions are effective mechanisms for reducing pain,” said Jason Buhle, who conducted research as part of his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University.

Have you noticed that when you are completely engaged in a project, a tv show, a movie (especially of high intensity or funny), conversation with a friend, exercise, sex, dancing, or reading that you don’t feel your pain so intensely? It seems like it has almost moved to the background.

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Hearing “You Manifested Your Illness” Causes More Pain

I have heard the following clichés during my years with chronic illnesses:

You attracted this for a reason. Think positive. Think happy thoughts. God never gives you more than you can handle. When one door closes another one opens. Your pain can be a blessing if you look at it from the right perspective.

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Tasers, Metaphors and Chronic Pain

The Taser like pains raged through my head again. My medications seemed to be less effective as time passed with this permanent and incurable disease of Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). I told others that it felt like a Taser was shot into my head. People with neuralgia pain will often use this descriptor. I certainly did. Still do. Yet I have never been tased.

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Scan your body to reduce chronic pain

I was having lightening like stabs and jolts in the left side of my head, and jaw and eye and I automatically started scanning my body. This is a process I learned over 25 years ago when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The goal was to notice what was happening in all areas, not just those that felt painful.

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Chronic Pain and the Silver Linings

My longtime friend was telling me about another procedure she had for her bladder. She spent the last few years dealing with the after effects of cancer and radiation.

She said with her usual good humor and sarcasm, “Well at least I have a family camping trip coming up. Silver linings!”

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Flares and Chronic Pain

The recent flare was gone…

As I opened my eyes this morning, I knew the recent flare was gone. The low burning and ache that is always with me was still there, but the last three day’s assault to my body and psyche had dissipated.

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I am not ill. I just have chronic pain.

“The problem with complaining about your health is that it tends to draw us to the actual experience of illness…” A complaint Free World

Language is everything to me. The way I think and speak and especially the way I talk to myself about pain becomes ever more important. Over the years, I have worked with clients on the words they use to express their physical and emotional pain. What makes them feel worse or better.


This is also a daily practice for me since I have Trigeminal and Occipital Neuralgia, Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis, and Fibromyalgia to name a few. Many of us with chronic pain have a hard time thinking about anything other than when is the next flare going to hit? How long will I be out this time?

Anxiety tends to increase with these thoughts.

Does this ring true for you?

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Is Your Chronic Pain Permanent and Incurable?

Permanent and incurable

“Can you accept that your pain is permanent and incurable?” asked my Acceptance and Commitment therapist during our second session.

Permanent and incurable? I felt the question in my gut. Heavy. Weighty. Dark. Sticky. As if a shadow had run across my whole being in that moment and landed in my gut.

Acceptance of what is? Sort of. I was diagnosed three years before this therapy with Trigeminal Neuralgia (also known as the Suicide Disease) and needed more help dealing with it. I had a huge list of tools and processes I was using and I still found myself stuck. I could not get above my TN pain.

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You Did Not Attract Your Chronic Pain

You did not ask for this. You did not attract this. You owe no karmic debt.

You simply have chronic pain. Do not add more punishment to what you are already going through or allow others to chastise you with their words.

When I got diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, I had well-meaning friends from my old shamanic/energy community suggest that I was cursed.

I SHOULD get it removed now and many practitioners volunteered.

I spent a year seeing numerous practitioners

By the time I shared my diagnosis with others, I had been to my primary care physician many times, urgent care three times, an ear, nose and throat doctor four times, specialists, a neurologist who started me on a daily medication routine that helped reduce my symptoms, a neurosurgeon, physical therapy, acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, Reiki sessions and weekly float tanks (sensory deprivation).

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Feelings of Danger in Me Increases Chronic Pain

Pain increases with thoughts of anxiety and fear

Decrease your pain by reducing anxiety or fear.

I know. Easier said than done. Find a technique that works for you like meditation/mindfulness, SIMs & DIMs process, yoga, breath work, body scans, humor, friendships and hobbies.

You will need to pay attention to your thoughts daily so that when something big comes up, you understand how to reduce the fear/anxiety you feel. You know how you do not expect bulging muscles to show up after one workout session? It would be nice, but the reality is your body does not work that way.

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