Day 45 – Dear Diary

Dear diary,

I’ve been working with my pain tracker for the month of June and I’ve kept up with it. Last night I was looking it over and it was really surprising to me that the pain scale was all over the place.  I was pretty sure that my pain numbers have been pretty consistent the last two  months or so.  I believe that the amount of stress that I have been under this month has played a big role in my pain number..

First off, I made my pain tracked and it’s really simple.  The hardest part of the whole thing was remembering to fill it in every day.  I used a piece of paper and the length of the paper on the box, I wrote out the number of days in June, 1-30.  Then I write out the numbers the pain scale uses, 1-10 on the height of the paper.  Then everyday, I would put an x in the column of the pain for the whole day.  That was it.  Told ya, really simple.  I added a picture of my pain scale tracker at the end of this blog for you to see as an example. Next month, I’m going to keep track of exercise, sleep, eating, and fresh air will all be listed on the “good” side of the tracker.  Then on the “bad”, I will list depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia.  It will be interesting to see which feelings on either the   “good” and the “bad”sides  affect my pain scale.

I truly believe that this all goes hand in hand,  the stress, depression, and anxiety all affect my pain levels one way or another.  But it’s not just the “bad” feelings that can affect my pain, I have noticed that after being stressed for a awhile and the stress is greatly reduced, it’s the “coming down” from that emotion that can cause me to have a higher pain day.  It is because I was so focused on the stress for a certain amount of time, that when the stress is gone, I focus on my pain more.  My mind isn’t wandering off on the stress that was once occupying my time.  This is something I need to work on and find a balance with it.  It’s almost damned if you do and, well I’m sure you know the rest.

There is a really interesting statistic that the American Pain Foundation has put out there about depression and chronic pain.  According to the foundation, there is  one-quarter to more than half of the population that complains of pain to their doctors are depressed.  That is a huge number of people.  And seems to continuously going up.  The more people complain of pain, the more the number of depressed people will be.  Again, according to APF, on an average, 65% of depressed people also complain of pain. Most people who go to the doctor, are under diagnosis with chronic pain.  Since that patient is trying to figure out the chronic pain, the depression, I would imagine wouldn’t be diagnosed.  The focus of that visit and many more to come, would be the chronic pain.

I remember when I was newly diagnosed with chronic pain, I assumed that since I had to answer to the pain, the depression would fade away into the night.  But unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  Even though I was diagnosed with depression years before I was diagnosed with chronic pain,  I stilled assumed depression would automatically leave once that diagnosis of chronic pain came in.  Boy was I so wrong.  Many people suffering  with misdiagnosed chronic pain, need to take care of all emotions that they feel.

I read an article about the effects of chronic pain and depression together, some people also have to deal with any one or two of these problems from this huge list.  Here is that list the article mentions:

  • Altered mood
  • Anger
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Confused thinking
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Family stress
  • Fatigue
  • Fear of injury
  • Financial concerns
  • Irritability
  • Legal issues
  • Physical deconditioning
  • Reduced sexual activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Social isolation
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Work issues

Imagine having the chronic pain and the depression,  now add just one of these issues from the list and you are looking a possible time bomb. I have both the pain and the depression, and looking at this list, I can count at least 10 of these problems that I either had dealt with or felt that it was going to become a problem soon.  Many a time, I was on an edge of what I thought would be a place I could never return from.  But I am lucky.  I have the right doctors and surgeons on my team and then add in my husband and kids and the team is strong.  Then with support from my family and friends, I was able to get on the right road to be able to be strong enough to battle all this. One important thing to remember, many of  the medicines out there that is prescribed to treat depression, can also help in aiding in the perception of the chronic pain.  One of the medications that I am now on is Cymbalta. This is a serotonin  and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.  Other words, it works on the brain to reduce the perception of pain.

There are medicines that can help with this combination of the two, chronic pain and depression.  The biggest thing to remember is talk to your doctor about all the issues you feel aren’t balanced.  It’s ok to take all the time in the world when you are talking with your doctor. After all, this is your health we are talking about.

Until tomorrow………….

My pain tracker

Pain tracker for June

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