Checking In eMagazine June 2010
JUNE 1, 2010
I looked around my house recently and realized that I had allowed clutter to
overtake some areas that were well hidden.
My pantry was a mess. My office had piles of paper I needed to file. And to be
perfectly honest, I had a holiday closet that was a mixture of shiny balls, hot
glue sticks, felt, sequins, and colored eggs. Wrapping paper had been stashed in
various places around the house--with ribbon and tape located elsewhere, of
But with the realization that I needed to take action came the confusion that
often follows such a decision. I was overwhelmed. Where should I start? How
could I decide what stays and what goes? I was immobilized knowing I must do
something but with absolutely no idea how to manage to get it started.
I mentioned my dilemma to a good friend of mine. Actually, it was more of a
complaining rant. She listened to me and said she would be over the next day.
And sure enough, she arrived with trash sacks, labels, and a clear sense of
duty. We started in my office and dug through the piles. When I unearthed a pile
of old fabric in my craft basket, she questioned my intention like Perry Mason.
A growing pile of "give away" mounted while we overheated the shredder from a
pile of papers.
I have renewed hope. I may never be completely clutter-free, but I have a
growing sense of an overall plan to keep my stuff in order. It started when I
reached out for help. It continued in the right direction when help arrived with
more energy than I could muster.
I am once again reminded that other people strengthen me with their kindness and
their presence in my life.
Do you have friends you can count on to hold you up when you are weary? Do you
have loved ones that encourage you when you are in pain? Take strength from
those surrounding you.
Special thanks go to hostesses weiser and Kim M for their contributions to this newsletter.
Chronic Pain: Dealing with the Frustration, Finding Acceptance, and Living
Life to the Fullest
JUNE 1, 2010
Complaints of pain are one of the number one reasons people seek medical
attention. Did you know that around the world, more women than men are affected
by chronic pain? There can be many reasons for chronic pain--including
fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), rheumatoid arthritis,
osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), chronic pelvic pain, and
Dealing with chronic pain can be frustrating as there is no way to measure it,
it can be difficult to describe, and people can have different levels of pain
tolerance. Consequently, it is important for you to learn how to communicate
your specific pain with your medical team to ensure they can help you implement
an effective pain management program for you.
To successfully live with chronic pain, there are a few steps you will need to
• Find ways to accept it.
• Educate yourself about your options.
• Be responsible for your care.
• Be confident with your team and yourself.
First and foremost, you must find a way to accept the fact that you are living
with pain. Stop the blame game, and forget the what ifs. The past cannot be
changed but you can move forward. Accepting pain does not mean you are giving in
to the pain; acceptance allows you to take charge of it so you can once again
live a fulfilling life.
Once you have accepted that pain is part of your daily life, you can then work
to find a reason for your pain. Having a diagnosis opens up the door for you to
educate yourself regarding treatments and rehabilitation. You will want to know
what can cause your condition, what treatment options are available, and which
doctors are the best ones to treat you.
There are many people who think that surgery will be the answer. Alas, that is
not generally the case. A surgical solution does not always exist to eliminate
chronic pain. Many times those with chronic pain have to think outside the box
as well as buckling down for the long haul.
Part of being responsible is assembling a medical team to work with you. Chronic
pain requires dedication on the part of not only you the patient, but the
doctors, therapists, and support members involved in your care. It is important
that everyone works together to help you feel your best. You are an integral
part of the team. You must be open and honest with your team about how the
treatments are helping and not helping. Do not be afraid to voice your opinions.
If at any time you decide that the goals of any member of your team are
different than the rest of the group, do not hesitate to seek another opinion
and/or add another member to your team. There is no limit to the number of team
members you can have on your side! Remember, this is about you taking control of
your life, and it can only be done when everyone is working toward the same
goal. Also, keep an open mind when alternative options are suggested. There are
many paths to the same goal and some members of your team may be able to
introduce atypical suggestions that might work for you!
Whatever routes are decided, give it your best shot. Keep in mind that progress
may take some time as you and your medical team work towards the goal of pain
relief. Be confident that you have done your research and have found the best
medical team for you. You are going to win this battle, but it will take
patience and perseverance.
The more you know, the more prepared you will be to take charge of your pain and
regain control of your life. That is right; you must take charge of your pain!
Do not let it take charge of you!
Recovery Room 101
JUNE 1, 2010
Are you one of the 600,000 women in the United States having a hysterectomy this year? If so, it's important to know as much as you can about post-hysterectomy health. If your hysterectomy involves the removal of both your uterus and ovaries, your body will immediately stop producing estrogen, resulting in surgical menopause. Surgical menopause typically causes a sudden onset of symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness and atrophy. While preparing for your surgery, ask your doctor about managing these symptoms with estrogen therapy.
The symptoms associated with surgical menopause are the same as those experienced during natural menopause, but can be more intense due to your body's sudden drop in estrogen levels. To help you manage this sudden onset of symptoms, your doctor may suggest estrogen therapy. Estrogen therapy can be started immediately after surgical removal of the ovaries. Because most women aren't allowed to eat or drink anything, including pills, in the 12 to 24 hours following major surgery, many doctors will order an estrogen patch for the patient to start in the recovery room.
Top 10 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain
JUNE 1, 2010
No one wants to live with chronic pain. Daily pain can take a toll--not only
on your physical health, but also on your emotional and mental health. Each
individual will have to find which treatments are going to be effective for
them. Accepting the pain will be the first step to finding a successful plan
that will allow you to live productively with the pain. When a person constantly
fights against the pain, the pain cycle can increase and then worsen the overall
situation. While accepting the pain will not cause it to suddenly disappear, you
can take several steps to alleviate symptoms and allow for a better future.
1. Accept the pain. Fighting chronic pain will only continue the cycle of
pain. Acceptance allows you to explore options to help you live your life with
chronic pain, with you in control rather than the pain. Acceptance doesn’t mean
you are a failure; it simply means you are a winner in the fight against chronic
2. Work with your medical team, not against them. This means following
through with suggested therapies, taking your medications on schedule (not
waiting until you are overwhelmed with symptoms), and exploring alternative
ideas for the source of your pain. Each individual will find success with
different therapies, so be sure to remember that patience is a virtue when it
comes to finding the right plan for you!
3. Try therapy and alternative treatment options. Relief can be found
through massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic care, aquatic
therapy, and more. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, but have realistic
expectations. Also, a counselor can be a great asset for helping with the
emotional and mental side of chronic pain.
4. De-stress. Stress only increases symptoms. Find ways to better manage
stress, and when possible, remove stress completely. This can mean changing jobs
or environments, eliminating activities from your life, etc.
5. Rest, rest, rest. If you are in pain, take a break. Learn to work
within your own limits so you don’t overdo it. A body that is too tired will not
be as able to fight against the pain. Arrange a reasonable schedule for yourself
and be realistic about activities in which you participate. Besides resting
during the day, it is also very important that those with chronic pain issues
also find a way to get the sleep their body needs.
6. Put away the superwoman cape. Have realistic expectations of your
abilities with the pain. Give yourself permission to not do everything. Do what
you can, and ask for help for the rest.
7. Take a hot bath. Fill the tub, light some candles, turn on some
soothing music, and turn out the lights. Time in the quiet in a warm bath can
sooth the body and the mind.
8. Use heating pads and cold packs. Applying heat to sore areas can be
helpful and soothing. There are a variety of heating pads available, including
ones that provide moist heat or heat wraps for one time use. For some pain
issues, a cold pack can be beneficial. Sometimes alternating between heat and
cold is best. Find what works best for you, and be sure to check with your
doctor to see what's best for you.
9. Consider both whole-body relaxation and targeted relief. Many
women use castor oil packs, aromatherapy, and topical medications. Some pain
will respond to packs and creams placed on the area. Aromatherapy can cause a
whole body relaxation that can then decrease the pain. Again, talk with your
doctor before trying new medication.
10. Be as healthy as you can be. When you are living with chronic pain,
eating is hard enough without worrying about eating well. The thought of
exercise can trigger a stressful response before even putting on a tennis shoe!
Doing your best to be as healthy as you can be provides your body with one more
tool to fight the pain. Start small and slow. A multi-vitamin. An apple a day. A
walk to the mailbox. It all starts with one step!
Keeping Track of Your Pain
JUNE 1, 2010
Documenting Pain in a Diary
These are the top two reasons to keep a pain and symptom diary: specifics and
consistency. Because our memories can be faulty, we won't always remember what
our exact pain level was from week to week. Was it a 5 last week and a 3 this
week, or was it a 7 last week and a 5 two weeks ago? By being specific and
consistent, you can find triggers and patterns that can lead to better diagnoses
and treatment plans.
Keep your pain diary in a calendar or within a journal that is easy to keep with
you. Get into the habit of documenting your pain on a daily basis. Write down
your type of pain, any triggers you discover, and the intensity of your pain.
Doctors tend to take you more seriously when you can show him/her specifics from
your pain diary: how the pain is affecting your life, what you have tried and
how it has (or has not) helped, and whether the pain fluctuates and/or triggers
other pain. You won't look like a drug seeker if you come in with evidence that
you are being negatively impacted by the pain and how it is affecting your
everyday life. If you have your ovaries, it is also helpful to include your
"cycle" in your diary (ovulating or PMS symptoms), as hormones can play a role
in some conditions.
Type of Pain
Be sure to share the type of pain, as that can be a major clue. For instance,
burning pain can be a sign the pain involves a nerve. Besides using a pain
scale, it is also important to keep track of the type of pain--dull, sharp,
burning, stabbing, throbbing, etc.
The Pain Scale
Andrea Mankowski, software designer and endometriosis sufferer, devised this
pain scale to describe her pain to her family and her physicians. Although it is
designed to describe pelvic pain, it can in fact be used to quantify pain
anywhere in the body. If you research pain on the Web, you can find many
references to this method of quantifying pain. Feel free to print this out and
take it with you to your doctor appointments or to the hospital.
0: Pain Free. No medication needed.
1: Very minor annoyance - occasional minor twinges. No medication needed.
2: Minor annoyance - occasional strong twinges. No medication needed.
3: Annoying enough to be distracting. Mild painkillers are effective. (Aspirin,
4: Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still
distracting. Mild painkillers relieve pain for 3-4 hours.
5: Can't be ignored for more than 30 minutes. Mild painkillers reduce pain for
6: Can't be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and
participate in social activities. Stronger painkillers (Codeine, Vicodin) reduce
pain for 3-4 hours.
7: Makes it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep. You can still
function with effort. Stronger painkillers are only partially effective.
Strongest painkillers relieve pain (Oxycontin, Morphine)
8: Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort.
Nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain. Stronger painkillers are
minimally effective. Strongest painkillers reduce pain for 3-4 hours.
9: Unable to speak. Crying out or moaning uncontrollably - near delirium.
Strongest painkillers are only partially effective.
10: Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out. Strongest painkillers are only
Be sure and meet with your personal physician on a regular basis to work on the
management and treatment of your pain. Your pain diary will be a great help to
you and your physician on your journey to managing your pain and regaining
control of your body.
From the HysterSisters Forums
JUNE 1, 2010
It's been 9 months since my TAH, kept my ovaries, and I feel much better, but I still have pain. It's not to the point where I need to take something, but its there. It seems like when I'm doing a lot of physical activity or doing a lot of bending it starts up. I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this as well. I have also been getting a sharper pain in my lower left side around the area where my scar is at and slightly below. For this, I'm wondering if I shouldn't call my ob gyn, but I am so tired of doctors that I'd like to ignore it!
Join the Discussion
More Discussions to join about chronic pain:
4 years post-op and still having bladder and abdominal discomforts
2 years post-op, pelvic pain and bleeding
Ilioinguinal nerve entrapment
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JUNE 1, 2010
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