So far, I have learned many things from CPRP. But one of the things that is most influential to me is the idea of living beyond the pain. I once read a quote somewhere that said “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Only now am I really realizing how true that is for me. Pain is something that I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t mean that I have to suffer for the rest of my life. I can choose to live a life, even with my pain. Pain may limit me in some ways, but I can choose to overcome it. Pain isn’t able to make me do anything, I choose to allow pain to affect my life. The thing is, it really is a choice. When I wake up each morning, I can choose to allow pain to make my life miserable or I can choose to be joyful and have fun in spite of the pain.
Something very interesting about the program is that we aren’t allowed to talk about our pain, like to complain about how it feels. We can talk about how it makes us feel, but no complaining. If we complain to the staff, they completely ignore us. If we complain to other people in the program (about 16 others), they respond with something like, “yeah, so, you’ve got pain, so do I.” When everyone around you is feeling the same thing, you realize that you aren’t alone. By not focusing on the pain, the pain is easier to ignore and I actually feel less pain. It also allows me to have more mental energy to spend on things other than just pain all the time.
The idea of living beyond pain is so refreshing to me, but I would like to ask for some help from everyone who knows me. If my arm was amputated, I wouldn’t go around and expect everyone to ask me about it and I wouldn’t complain about it all the time, I would learn to live with it. I might need some accommodations, but I would learn to adjust. The idea is that we must do the same thing with pain. When pain is acute, it is okay to complain, however when it is chronic, you don’t get anywhere and you aren’t able to accomplish much when you constantly exhibit “pain behaviors” such as wincing, crying, limping, complaining, etc. I’ve learned that not only is it bad for the person with pain psychologically But it can also really affect the way people around you respond and interact. It can ruin relationships, especially when there is no cure and constant complaining makes the person feel helpless about the fact that they can do nothing.
I have a few favors to ask of you. First of all, could you help me by not asking about my pain. When you ask about it, you may just be trying to be kind, but it reminds me that I have pain and actually makes it worse because I’m thinking about it. Besides, I really do get sick of answering the question. You can ask how I am, but expect me to answer how I am emotionally, not physically. Don’t be surprised if I answer “wonderful” or “great.” It doesn’t mean that I no longer have pain, it just means that I’m having a good day, in spite of the pain.
I guess what I’m asking you to do is to try to treat me like I am a normal person. Whatever that means! Also, if you could act like the staff here and ignore any “pain behaviors” (pretty much anything that lets you know that I’m in pain). Also, don’t help me with stuff unless I ask or clearly need help, always let me try first. I want to be as independent as I can, and if you step in and help me, I won’t learn how to accommodate.
So far, I’ve learned so much, and I’ve only been here a few days, I can’t wait to see what happens the next few weeks!