The Pain Companion is a practical and compassionate guidebook based on the author’s 8 years of managing debilitating nerve pain. It includes a wealth of insights and wisdom to ease the impact that living with chronic pain has on well being, self-image, and relationships. Includes 33 specific ways to alleviate pain’s emotional and mental stresses and 11 simple meditative exercises to help change the relationship with pain from enemy to ally in healing.
Targeted Age Group:: adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When I started, I wasn’t writing a book, I was working through my experiences with pain by writing about them. I had tried everything to move the pain out of my body, but nothing was working. One day I thought, well maybe I can write it out. So, very slowly, I began to write about what it’s like to live with pain, and how pain takes over your experience of yourself and life. Then I began to record the ways that I had found to relieve pain by working with it as an ally rather than fighting against it as an enemy. Over several years, I filled a number of notebooks and when I read them over, realized that I had some valuable insights and information that could benefit others in pain.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The Submersion of the Self
When We experience severe pain, constant pain, insistent pain, the situation quickly becomes overwhelming. So much of our attention and energy is directed toward dealing with the pain that we can feel submerged underneath its demands.
The choices that have to be made, the responsibilities we still have despite a physical impairment, and the sensations of pain themselves seem to be drowning us. It becomes difficult to think clearly, to have conversations, to be available for life, to be available to the self.
Pain, therefore, rules our experience. It dictates how we can and can’t use our body. We do only as much as it allows us to do. We sleep only as much as it allows us to sleep. When it has something to say, we are its captive audience. We interact with others with less enthusiasm and less energy. We become worn out and discouraged, completely at the mercy of its whims.
Pain becomes our primary focus. It is its nature. Its presence is all-encompassing. When pain is either very severe or very long-lived, it can feel like a separate entity, a being with its own mind.
It is like living with something or someone else in our body, a power unto itself, which we must serve. It has its own agenda and keeps its own schedules. Its needs are immediate and, seemingly, insatiable. We spend a great deal of time and energy bowing to it, taking care of it, trying to ease it, or imploring it to leave.
Tasks that were easy before become difficult and exhausting. Before the brain even attempts to tackle a problem or meet a demand, it feels overloaded and overwhelmed. Things that require a response – the phone, a question, paperwork – can seem like an invasion or attack. So little of us is left that is not overtaken by pain, there remains almost no energy with which to make decisions, to think, to feel, to love.
After living for days, weeks, and months with pain as the director of life, we can lose sight of our own primacy, and the primacy of other people and situations that are important or dear to us.
It’s easy to feel irritable with everyone, with life, with ourselves. Part of the irritability is from the constant braying of nerves in pain, of course, but part is the frustration of not being able to control it. It feels like our bodies are no longer our own, and that is truly a very frightening invasion. It’s too close, too intimate.
In addition, there are the stresses that accompany every waking moment, including the uncertainty about healing – if and when it will happen – and the unknowns of how to survive practically and financially.
We must face difficult questions, often with limited physical, mental, and financial resources with which to meet them: What will happen if I can’t take care of my children? What if I can no longer pay my mortgage or rent? Should I take a specific drug? Who will help me make sense of all these forms? How will I go shopping, do the laundry, clean? How can I afford to pay someone to help me?
Being in constant physical pain is like living underwater. The pain sensations are not only felt in the body, they seem to become an extended energy field around the body, creating a separate reality that no one else shares.
There is no one inside your world of pain with you; you are utterly alone there. Even others who are also suffering do not share the same pain.
The sensation of pain, then, creates boundaries around the entire experience of life. It becomes the environment and the substance in which the self is immersed. The world recedes, often to a seemingly unreachable distance. Only echoes of it remain. Normal life seems remote; everything filtered and distanced by the field of pain and the stress that comes with it, surrounding and penetrating all experience.
I am trying everything I can think of to make you happy. To make you calm down. To make you go away. I have tried eradicating, releasing, relieving, mitigating, cajoling, begging and ignoring you. Yet you are astonishingly resilient. You refuse to budge. Almost everything I do makes you louder and more insistent.
Today I was alarmed to discover that the only sensations I have left are painful ones. My entire body is a burning, painful structure. If there is a part of me that is not in pain, I can’t feel it anymore. You have taken over my entire experience of my body!
Are you trying to push me out of my body? I don’t believe I am this pain, but where am I? What is left of me?
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy The Pain Companion: Practical Tools for Living With and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain Print Edition at Amazon
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Is this book in Kindle Unlimited? Yes
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