Describe myself? Here is what might I say: I am a woman. I am a spouse. I am a daughter of parents who need care. I love books and swimming. I am in pain. The pain in my back and neck keeps me from swimming sometimes. I have trouble sleeping. I am a grandmother. I am depressed about living with pain. I travel in the winter to places that are warm…I understand that I am so much more than my pain, yet it is a part of my life in every way, every day. Some of these things my friends and family know. No one, though, had really ever asked me to describe myself , not in this way, until my first meeting with my Michigan Spine and Pain Social Worker.
“You are so much more than your pain”, Dr. Bleiberg told me at my first appointment. I had been in agony for weeks and, honestly, all I wanted was a muscle relaxer prescription. Right away I learned that Dr. Bleiberg and his team approach to pain medicine is about treating the whole person, not just the symptom, condition or disease. My meeting with Cory, a Michigan Spine and Pain LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) made such a difference for me in how I think about who I am and how pain modifies the parameters of my life. Before coming to Michigan Spine and Pain I could not have told you – or myself even – that I was depressed about living with chronic pain. I could not have told you that I was not alone in my emotional struggle with physical pain. It is one year – exactly – since my first MISP appointment. I’ve learned how to take control of my pain and I’ve learned how to happily live those parts of my life that are so much more than pain. Here are some resources I that helped me. Maybe that might be helpful to you too. These organizations provide information, advocacy, and support for chronic pain sufferers and families of the millions of people who live with pain:
- The American Academy of Pain Management www.aapainmanage.org
The American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) is a professional organization that provides accreditation, education and publishing opportunities. There is also a wealth of information on the AAPM web site that is easily accessible and user friendly for pain patients interested in learning more about the world of pain management and pain care.
- American Chronic Pain Association www.theacpa.org
For more than 30 years the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) has offered support and education in pain management in the form of programs and peer to peer support groups for people living with pain, as well as to family, friends, and health care professionals working with people in pain. Simply put, the ACPA puts everyone on the same page. There are literately hundreds of ACPA support groups meeting in community centers, hospital conference rooms, schools and libraries in every city, everywhere. The ACPA’s unique take on living life to its fullest, even with pain, is important for me, and others that I have met, on my journeys with pain. As an added bonus, the information and tools on the ACPA web site are easy to access and have personally helped me live a higher quality of life.
WE are so much more than our pain. WE are not alone. We might not ever know each other’s names, but let us know how you are doing by sending Dr. Bleiberg an email. He’ll make your note anonymous and allow us to share your pain journey to help others, too.
Thanks, Cory, for asking me to share my story.