How to start pain management to help with chronic pain

Advice and encouragement from the pain management patients before me.

Almost ten years after the onset of my first chronic pain condition, I finally got invited to a local NHS run pain management course.

I’ve previously attended the Expert Patient Programme which was also extremely good, however it was not pain/condition specific. I began to feel like I wasn’t given the opportunity to properly assess how well I was managing my pain without a pain management referral.

Other people experiences will vary, but my pain management course was an eight week training session on how to live with pain. It helps you manage flareups, start paced exercise, and help with loads of other things like continuing hobbies and getting a good nights sleep.

Everyone in chronic pain should have the opportunity to learn from experts in pain, and from prior patients, so I’ll explain what pain management is and how to get started.

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When other women aren’t supportive about periods and underestimate endometriosis

A forest view of a cycle path with a little sunlight.

To honour the end of endometriosis awareness week I got thinking about how and when endometriosis came into my life and how I managed with terrible periods for over a decade.

I remember one occasion many, many years ago when I had to leave work, and my (female) boss looked at me accusingly and said “You’re not going home because of your period are you?”.

Her tone said to me that she found that idea pathetic. I lied and said I had a tummy bug so I could get home without stress. I was young, and tired and not in the mood to start the debate about periods as I would now.

But that question stuck with me for many years, right up until my endometriosis diagnosis. It’s a burden that many of us live with right up until we’re diagnosed.

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The pain of living with undiagnosed illness

A series of red Japanese tori gates.

For the last four years I have lived with a third, undiagnosed long term illness.

I have been getting sicker, and this had posed a new set of challenges and complications which could have possibly been triggered by treatment of my first chronic condition.

Living with endometriosis is one thing, but living with an unknown condition is equal parts terrifying, upsetting, frustrating and lonely. You can’t read up on condition websites, you can’t join support groups and there’s no treatment options until you have a name.

I want to raise awareness of the long-term limbo of being undiagnosed, as unfortunately having endometriosis seems to raise our likelihood of developing another long term condition.

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Getting out of bed is the hardest part of my day

A cat asleep in a Japanese cat cafe.

I have a difficult relationship with sleep, not because I’m not getting enough, but because I enjoy it too much. It is by far the thing I look forward to most each day. I don’t enjoy being unconscious per se, but I do enjoy having a period of time where I drop the pretence of ignoring pain, and can just relax, and embrace rest.

This post may seem a little defeatist than I intended. I just wanted to deconstruct the weird myriad of issues that sleep poses.

I want to talk about why leaving that state is the hardest thing I have to do each day and why it’s different and more complicated than just being tired.

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Why invisible chronic pain is the poor cousin of physical health

Graffiti in Osaka, Japan, featuring an octopus arm.

I feel like I am in a grey area when it comes to my health, don’t you?

In the UK I hear lots of rhetoric in politics about how mental health needs to be a priority and disabled people with profound disabilities should already protected (are they?).

I can’t help but feel that invisible chronic pain in anyone below 60 is still an elephant in the room that few in politics, media or health seems to be talking about or addressing.

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The three types of people who don’t believe you’re in pain

A departure area in a Japanese airport.

This is a lesson I learnt very early on in my endometriosis diagnosis. It started when the pain started, I knew something was wrong, but people started to try and explain the pain away.

I’m reminded of it again with the diagnosis of my second condition. Living with people who are not unwell can be exhausting, as exhausting as the pain sometimes.

I explain what living with chronic illness is like when it’s worth it, but on the whole living with illness means picking your fights with people carefully and largely muddling on through everyone else’s healthy status quo.

Here are what I think are the three types of negative reactions to disclosing your chronic illness.

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Endo what film review: a triumph for endometriosis patients everywhere

Endowhat trailer image - a young ballet dancer in silhouette.

I’d been anticipating the arrival of Endo what for many months. Back when I donated to it on Indiegogo I hoped it would go some small way to explain the difficulty of living with endometriosis. I couldn’t have imagined that it would hit each of the notes and nuances of endometriosis so perfectly.

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Why do people in pain turn up at A&E?

Beautiful black and white graffiti from Japan.

I’ve seen a lot of in the press and on social media in the last few years about how people shouldn’t turn up at Accident and Emergency (A&E) for illnesses that are not emergencies.

However I think people in chronic pain or with long term illnesses have been all but forgotten in this rhetoric. I’ve never gone to A&E myself, but I know many people in pain that have, and their stories all share one thing in common – they went there out of total and utter desperation, and I am utterly sick of them being demonised for doing so.

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Guest post: The worst time of the month

One of my readers asked if I’d like to share her story as part of endometriosis awareness month. She shares a powerful story about working with endometriosis that we can all relate to. Thank you for sharing your experience Grace.

An empty bed in a hospital.

 

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It’s not me talking, it’s the pain

A cosy cat warming on christmas lights stretches out a paw to the camera.

This is a phrase I hear all the time – from me and the many women I talk to with endometriosis. It’s the phrase I’m crying out in my head when I say something I don’t mean to.

It sums up my frustration really. As we all grapple with the conundrum of what bits of our personality are ourselves and remain ourselves, and what’s caused purely by pain.

Pain is usually all I can think about now. I spend most of my time distracting myself from it and as such it feels like the pain is sometimes in control of how I say things. Thoughts often leap out of my mouth before I can filter it.

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Endohope

My name is Michelle and I've been living and working with endometriosis for seven years. I hope to provide some hope for this illness through practical advice and discussion of this awful disease. You can read more about my story on my about me page.

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