I’m not going to “unlove” you

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Ask the Coach, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 2 comments

I'm Not Going to "Unloved" YouLast year at this time, I was struggling with my health. It was hard to feel like myself at work, at home, and there was no “at play” in my life then. Physically, I was dealing with unexplained vertigo, hearing loss, and disequilibrium. While not actually painful, it made me nauseous, irritable, and was accompanied by deep feelings of fear and depression. (If you’ve read my book, you may remember some of this story.)

One day, I was trying to explain to my husband Cris how sorry I was that I couldn’t be the wife he married and the wife who had enjoyed nearly two decades of togetherness. Of course, I was crying and it both hurt and made me mad to be in this situation.

And my best friend, companion, and husband just looked at me and said, “I’m not going to ‘unlove’ you because you’re sick.” His words still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I can’t tell you if he thought about those words much before he said them. I can tell you that his words lifted my soul in that moment and chased some of the fear away.

Now imagine you’re a person with chronic illness or chronic pain. You might not really have to imagine – this could be you already since over 100 million people in the U.S. have experienced chronic pain. And according to one study in 2013, nearly half of all Americans have at least one chronic illness. This means many of you have felt what I was feeling that day last winter.

Has my health improved since then? Well, yes and no. Have I cried more tears? Definitely. Have I had some priceless moments of joy and happiness? Absolutely. And every SINGLE day I think of that one precious phrase, “I’m not going to unlove you.”

I realize this is a unique and amazing gift from my spouse. And so are all those nights when he’s not only cooked dinner but also done the dishes – all because I needed to get off my feet and rest. It’s not uncommon for a spouse to feel burdened by the challenge of their partner’s chronic pain. Many relationships and marriages struggle and even fail because of it.

Do Cris and I have the secret to a happy marriage despite chronic pain or illness? Well that bin of magic fairy dust was empty at the store this month, so I have no fail-safe secret. I will however, give you my top three strategies for enriching your loving relationship even when you have chronic pain or illness.

  1. Choose to be happy and find happiness in all the little ways you can. Each of those little choices add up to a big difference in how you approach each day. And research shows that optimism and a sense of hope (which go hand-in-hand with happiness), play a big part in improving your health. What makes you happy will be completely individual­—maybe it’s a child’s laughter, a bright sunny day, or some yellow roses. It could be the comfort of a warm meal shared with someone. Or bubbles in the bathtub. You choose!
  2. Let them know how much it means to you! Don’t forget the “thank you” moments, even if you think you’ve already said it a few times today or this week. Do what you can when you can. When you have a good day, use some of your energy to do something nice for your partner even if it’s just emptying the dishwasher. But most of all thank them more than you think necessary.
  3. Hug your partner every single day—more than once! Being heart-to-heart in a hug is healing for you both. It improves blood pressure, lifts your mood, and generates pain-relieving endorphins too. It reminds you both that you’re the most important people in each other’s lives, no matter what pain and health challenges your family is dealing with.

Love them because they love you. Face the challenges together, hand in hand, heart to heart.

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

 

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three reasons why resolving chronic pain is challenging

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief | 4 comments

Resolving Chronic PainI recently saw a Facebook post by another massage therapist who specializes in working with people in pain. He noted his top three reasons why people don’t get out of pain for the long-term. The reasons were:

  • Lack of proper communication with the body
  • Poor mindset “fix me” mentality
  • Lack of personal responsibility – there is always something else to do

These are his words not mine. And they got me thinking a little bit. My immediate reaction when I read these reasons was, “I know I respect him, but this guy has clearly never lived with chronic pain.” I felt this way not because his points were wrong but because of the way he phrased them. Maybe I was just having “one of those days,” but the post sounded so darn judgmental.

This list also made me think about what makes a client’s experience different when they work with a therapist who has experienced chronic pain of their own. Here’s how I might have phrased these ideas differently because of my own experiences with chronic pain.

My top three reasons why people find it so challenging to resolve chronic pain:

  1. A lot of my clients have never had anyone guide and teach them how to re-connect with their bodies. Most of us who live with chronic pain find that we separate mind and body to some degree some of the time. This comes from living with the intensity of pain, and is an instinctive coping mechanism. Some of us started using is coping mechanism decades ago, so reconnecting to our bodies takes time, healthy methods, and a very patient teacher. It can be done with a teamwork mentality: the client, their body and a trained therapist (MT, PT, etc.).
  2. The world of medical care that we live in fosters a mentality of “quick fix,” especially if a pill can be given to “solve” a problem. Many people who live with chronic pain have lived inside this approach and system for many years. And yet they often find it to be unsatisfying and frustrating – mostly because the pills don’t always work. People with chronic pain also turn outside the medical system to alternative healers. And many healers in both systems encourage an approach where they want to be responsible for someone’s well being. Frankly, it’s job security … even if it might not help the client or patient escape the “fix me” mentality. There are also many patients who want to participate in the healing process. They have found that being present and working together with the healer brings better results in the long-term. But it takes a mindset shift – coming from the patient – to start this process. If you think you might be ready to start this shift, check out a blog I wrote about mindset and chronic pain.
  3. Most people who live with chronic pain would do almost anything and pay almost anything to find a solution and return to normal life. Many of them can’t even remember what their former “normal” life was like. I can’t tell you how many different healing ideas, devices, therapies, and diets I have tried over the last two decades. Some have helped significantly for a long time. Other methods have cost a lot and needed an extensive time commitment, without bringing much result. Friends and family (plus the occasional complete stranger) often suggest types of treatment to me. And honestly it can be exhausting and draining to try everything. My advice is to keep your eyes and ears open. Trust your gut when you hear about a new idea. Don’t overtax yourself trying too many things at once. But never, never, never give up. You can find relief. It is ultimately up to you. And never ever let someone else make you feel guilty because you haven’t yet found the right treatment plan yet. Take a break from searching if it wears you out. Get help and use your support system.

<rant over> Thanks for listening! And more importantly, I hope I was able to give you some good ideas and express the compassion I truly feel for people (like me) living with chronic pain.

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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the critical importance of how pain will centralize

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in Holistic Pain Relief, Women in Pain | 2 comments

This week I’m sharing my notes from the presentation by renowned pain management specialist Forrest Tennant, MD at the 2013 Women in Pain conference on September 13th.

Dr. Forest Tennant, MDDr. Tennant offered this audience of regular folks (most living with pain) the same presentation he gave the week before to a room full of physicians, “The Critical Importance of How Pain will Centralize.”

He spoke of two pain-related scientific breakthroughs in the last decade. First, the realization that pain can and will centralize in the spine/brain from the periphery. And second that hormones are connected to pain, and can be used for virogenensis (the ability to regrow nerves) and pain management.

Central pain is pain that is driven by a focus inside the brain and characterized by constancy and hyperarousal of the autonomic nervous and endrocrine systems. It can begin in three different ways: brain injury, peripheral nerve injury and from other types of pain (such as autoimmunity, fibro, vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis).

Central pain will be essentially constant. With central pain, the patient will have poor or zero response to peripheral treatments. Patients are also likely to have insomnia! Along with these signs, the manifestations include depression, fatigue, anorexia and functional paralysis (bed or couch bound).

Centralized pain can happen as quickly as 2 hours after an injury or other pain-related event, and is definitely likely to occur if pain is unresolved after 6 weeks. It can be delayed, and then feel as if the pain as “suddenly taken over.”

While diagnosis depends mostly on history and physical exam, lab tests (especially early on) can confirm and support. According to Dr. Tennant, we are still learning how hormone (ACTH, cortisol, pregnenolone, DHEA, testosterone) levels can help in this process, in addition to inflammatory markers.

Because central pain includes changes in brain tissue and function, some of the simple yet critical things to treat it are nutrition & exercise. It’s also super important for patients to start working out their brain—first key steps there are reading and socialization.

One of the primary elements for healing to occur is oxygen—even just doing deep breathing or receiving massage! Other options are walking, bouncing on a rebounder or trampoline, and talking. You’ll want to generate a little stress but not too much.

What does Dr. Tennant recommend eating if you are experiencing central pain? Getting enough protein is essential—a high protein diet (whether animal, vegetarian or vegan) is best. What you gain with high protein is lots of amino acids—and these are what make endorphins, glutamine, and neurotransmitters work.

You also want to be aware that experiencing pain will drive down blood sugar – and that’s why people in pain find themselves craving sugar or carbs. More high protein will help balance this blood sugar issue.

Plus it’s super important to get plenty of green veggies for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits!

Dr. Tennant recommended these supplements: Fish oil at up to 4000 milligrams/day, vitamin B12, and folic acid. (These both work to make the lining of nerves work properly.) You also want to consider taking a vitamin-mineral preparation of GABA or its precursors taurine and glutamine.

The medical treatment options Dr. Tennant discussed include the options you would normally think of like opioids, anti-inflammatory and neuropathic agents, plus sedatives and antidepressants. But, he also described a new focus on the hormones HCG and oxytocin. HCG will stimulate growth in nerve tissues, hair and skin tissues. It also seems to reduce intractable pain. Plus studies are now showing that oxytocin is the body’s major internal pain reliever, rather than endorphins. He is giving patients both HCG and oxytocin together now too.

You can read more by downloading Dr. Tennant’s patient-centered pain handbooks at http://foresttennant.com/pain_management_patient_self_help.html.

Again, I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear this information at the Women in Pain conference. I hope that my sharing it has been helpful to you!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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the most important detox you can do

Posted by on Sep 11, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 2 comments

Smiley GR EmoticonPeople often ask me about whether a detox program or a cleanse is right for them. They especially wonder if it’s a good idea to help initiate some holistic pain relief. My answer is always, “It depends on you.” Sometimes a 7-14 day detox is just the thing to reset our taste buds and remind us of all the yummy things we gain by adding more vegetables and fruits into our lives. But I also often find that clients living with chronic pain discover that the detox is more stressful than it’s worth. All the restrictions and extra planning can be taxing if you are living in an exhausted, pain-filled state. On the other hand, if you’re doing pretty well … a short detox can really create a wonderful boost. It depends on you, and I’d encourage you to really be still and let you intuition tell you what’s best.

What I like to do instead is teach people how to maximize their body’s detoxification functions every day. It’s possible to make small changes over a little while really amp up the things your own body can do for you! It takes a little more patience, but it also can be a lot less stressful.

But today I wanted to talk about something other than food-related detox. What about detoxing our thoughts from the negativity of the world? I believe that how we refer to our bodies, our pain and any diseases we live with can make ALL the difference. Negativity detox is so critical to your holistic pain relief plan. This is all up to you, and not something you can pay someone to do to you or for you! This is personal philosophy, so if it doesn’t resonate with you that’s okay too.

Here’s what I mean: When I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I was immediately concerned about the type of language that is used to describe autoimmune disease. This is a situation where part of your immune system is overactive towards your body. Notice I said overactive—but typical medical language is that your immune system ATTACKS your body. I decided very early on to NEVER use that phrasing when I was talking about myself. It just doesn’t seem to be productive to me since my main goal is find healing and pain relief, not WAR and FIGHTING.

It’s not that I’m dishonest about my pain or about RA when someone asks, but I always look to the most positive possible way to frame the situation. People asked, “how could you do massage with RA?” My answer, “I’ve never NOT done massage with RA, so it seems normal to me!”

If I feel limited in any given day, I choose to focus on and remember what I CAN do instead of what I can’t. Every moment I am up and moving around is a privilege, because I know people whose pain immobilizes them and makes them 100% dependent on others. So what do I GET to do today? Instead of what CAN’T I do!

Want some help with these ideas? I have two friends who are creating great programs RIGHT NOW about letting go of negativity in our lives. Of course, I can help too … but I wanted to share these great additional options because they are helping ME!

Star Staubach’s 21-Day Challenge to RECEIVE is still open … it started September 1 but I’m guessing all the content will be available even after the 21 days are over!

Jennifer Boykin’s 30-Day Negativity Cleanse is open too! You take a pledge to refrain from negativity, and Jennifer sends you a daily uplifting email for 30 days. What would happen to our world if we ALL did this?

Let me know what you sign up for okay? I’m excited for all of us to receive all this GOODNESS!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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9 reasons why smoothies are a fantastic breakfast choice

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

SmoothiesIf you’ve spent any time with me in person or here on the blog, you know that I LOVE smoothies. They are definitely one of my favorite natural remedies for pain relief. I’ve been having breakfast smoothies for over ten years. So long that I don’t even remember why I originally started making them for breakfast. But I definitely know why I make them NOW! Here are my top nine reasons:

  1. You can make your own in 5 minutes: You just need a blender & ingredients, the preparation is super quick and easy!
  2. They are anti-inflammatory and help create pain relief: Smoothies are naturally grain and gluten free, which is a wonderful anti-inflammatory choice.
  3. You can pack every bite with TONS of nutrition: So many superfoods are the perfect fit with a smoothie. For example, add some blueberries and a teaspoon of cinnamon or ginger. Fantastic for you and so EASY!
  4. You’ll never miss the gluten or dairy: Switching the milk or yogurt for a non-dairy milk doesn’t change the taste in the least. You’ll never miss it!
  5. They help your digestion: Having a liquid breakfast is super easy on your body. It allows the overnight digestion to continue (to a lesser extent) during the morning.
  6. You can save a cup of smoothie for dessert after dinner: If you love a little bit of sweetness at night, just make a bit of extra smoothie and refrigerate it in a glass jar during the day. Healthy and yummy!
  7. Even kids like them – and you can hide a vegetable serving in there for them: My teenage granddaughter just told me the other day that she has a smoothie in the morning now. Her mom puts kale in it, and my granddaughter says, “You can’t even tell!”
  8. If you must eat in the car, you can drink your smoothie: I’d rather eat my smoothie while sitting still at the table. But if your morning is crazy busy, make it a little thinner and take it in the car. You’ll still gain plenty of benefits.
  9. It’s hydration the easy way: Many mornings I use part water and part almond milk in my smoothie. Every little bit of extra hydration we can get is a boost for pain relief!
  10. BONUS: there are so many flavor options that you’ll never get tired of them: Here’s a link to my smoothie Pinterest Board with tons of great ideas. Try some and let me know what you think!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

 

 

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