Episode 9: How to Avoid the Pain Journey
The only way to avoid chronic pain is to start to do something now. Most of us think we have time to change what we do, until we run out of time and find out that we are wrong.
This is the Pain Changer Podcast Episode Nine Are you a listener who doesn’t experience physical pain? But you do feel chronically anxious or stressed? Do you turn to sugar or something else that’s less than healthy to help you cope? To keep telling yourself you’ll change your bad habits before you do damage to your body. Everyone tends to think you have enough time to change what you’re doing until you run out of time. Stay tuned and find out how you can get ahead of the game and stack the cards in your favor to avoid chronic pain. Despite the fact I experienced my first mystery health issue in 2007, it took me until I was disabled in 2018, to change what I was doing to a level that would have positive impact on my life. Despite the fact I experienced my first mystery health issue in 2007, it took me until I was disabled and 2018 to change what I was doing to a level that would positively impact my life. Why? I had numerous health issues over those 11 years. In 2007, I was gaining weight no matter how hard I worked out, or how carefully I counted calories, and I had very little energy. In 2010 I had developed a sleeping order and in 2010, I developed a sleeping disorder and fibromyalgia. In 2013 I was diagnosed with hemochromatosis, which is a genetic condition that prevents you from metabolizing iron. My first MRI was in 2004, and I’ve now had 14 MRIs total. Then in 2017, I was slapped with the label of chronic pain. And in 2018, my body crumbled under all the stress and damage I had done to it. In my former typical fashion, I stayed in denial and avoidance. So much of what had happened in each of those situations is why I kept delaying taking better care of myself. That and a lack of love for myself. The only way to know if you truly still have time to change what you’re doing is to start today. Before you are experiencing symptoms that impact your life before your doctor slide for your doctor slaps a label like chronic or uncurable on you. You probably won’t though, because as a human being, you will follow the path of the familiar even if you don’t really like it, because it’s better than the unknown. I don’t blame you. And in fact, I was you. And I understand why you are reluctant to change. It can feel overwhelming, can’t it? Or maybe you just can’t muster give a shit to save your life right now. Or maybe you just can’t muster give a shit to save your life right now. Are you too busy? Maybe you aren’t sure where to start. If you are someone who wants to get ahead of the game and prevent a chronic condition, keep listening. It will always be a lot easier to attend to your wellness now and trying to attend to your illness. If you think you’re busy now, imagine trying to deal with a major health issue on top of your current schedule. This episode is for you. Yes, you’re right there. The one who doesn’t want to slow down, you have concerns about what you may be doing to your own health. Even if you already have a chronic condition. I hope you will keep listening. So you can learn from your own experience to help make different decisions for yourself in the future. Looking back at my own medical history, I see now that those early mystery. Looking back at my own medical history, I see now that those earlier mystery health outs were mile marker warnings on my path into chronic pain. Sure. I also added in some activities that had a major impact on my body such as skydiving and drug use. As we’ve already discussed, though, my pain wasn’t as simple as the fact that I really sucked at landing a skydive had a lot more to do with the way I used to live my life and the lack of boundaries and standards I had for myself. The first health bout in 2007 with the inexplicable weight gain wound up being linked to digestive issues. I was born with wonky digestion. My mom always says I was constipated in diapers. Yeah, I know. You guys are really good at it. I was born with wonky digestion. My mom always said I was constipated in diapers. Yeah, I know. You guys are really gonna get to know me over the course of this podcast, and I’m sure you’ve already noticed I have no issues discussing poop. I do, however, need to work on my timing for when I bring up something involving poop like dinner. That’s not the time. I digress. Where was I? Oh, right. Yeah, I was born full of shit. I’m kidding. During my 20s I was taking doxycycline for acne and it led to a massive esophageal ulcer which was discovered after a particularly gnarly hangover. After that I will pop a Tums anytime I had even the slightest bit of heartburn to a point I eliminated my stomach acid. The weight gain was due to me not digesting my food properly due to my lack of stomach acid. The sleeping disorder and fibromyalgia wound up being linked to anxiety I had tried to treat. I had tried to treat anxiety and depression with pharmaceuticals instead of cannabis like I had been since cannabis was still illegal at the time. And they didn’t yet know. Since cannabis was still illegal at the time, and I didn’t yet know what I now know about pharmaceuticals today. So it seemed like a better route. It turned out that the medication they gave me was preventing me from sleeping, and I woke up every 36 seconds. Even after I was off the medication, I was still experiencing a lot of body pain and insomnia. And it appeared that it was permanent after taking that medication. They discovered hemochromatosis. When I was battling some brain fog. I had brain Frog, frog frog. I had brain fog from the sleeping meds I was taking since that last psychotropic I tried to create insomnia that was worse than I had experienced as a kid. They weren’t looking for anemia, and surprise, surprise, they found the opposite. Why am I sharing all this with you now? These were early indicators of what was coming and I chose to ignore them. I kept trying prescription after prescription and built up all the side effects. It wasn’t working. Take a moment and ask yourself, have you experienced something similar? Looking back at your own health history? Do you see a potential pattern similar to mine? If so, did you make any changes to help prevent you from going down the same path I walked. Each one of those situations was really stressful for me. They took months of my time and energy to figure out created more stress and anxiety as doctors ran test after test and told me I was fine. Despite me knowing I wasn’t fine in each situation created more desire to avoid all things medical and to try to ignore it instead. That was not a very good idea. Let me just say that right now. Avoidance and denial will do nothing to help you. So what can you do? Before you begin anything? Before you begin anything, please consult with your doctor. If you haven’t seen a doctor or had a physical or bloodwork done in a while, that’s a great place to start. See where you are for your current baseline. Then see if you’ll want to change anything based on that lab work. If you’re already healthy Fuck Yeah, congratulations and keep it up. If you see some levels creeping in, in ways that could point to a bigger issue, then stay with me here and get some ideas on how to start making some changes. The first thing that you can do to avoid the pain journey is to start to know your body and bring awareness into the four areas of your life that can directly impact your pain levels. Yes, even if you do not currently experience pain. Part of what I teach my clients is my pain change your methodology, where I encourage my clients to journal and bring awareness into the four areas. This methodology works to both avoid the pain journey as well as to speed up the pain journey to reach the maintenance phase. Those areas just to refresh your memory, our physical, verbal, emotional mental. I will be taking a deep dive into each of these areas in future episodes for today. Please just pick one to two things that you want to start to examine in your life. We will dive deeper another day. Let’s start with physical and more specifically diet. Do you know what foods your body really likes? This may be different from whatever food you crave, and it most likely is different from your cravings. For instance, my body performs best if I eat mostly vegetables, fruits and nuts, very little meat. My cravings, however, are usually around sugar and starches though my best diet is dictated by hemochromatosis, and I am finally not so stubborn that I won’t follow it. For reasons I’m coming to understand. For reasons I’m still coming to understand my iron saturation will go through the roof if meat is a daily part of my day it, which is not what is commonly seen with those with hemochromatosis which is not what is commonly seen in those with hemochromatosis. Anyone who has a condition anyone who has this condition will absorb and hold more iron than those who don’t have it and their saturation will go up with it. But it typically presents differently than it does with me. I’ve seen five hematologist now and every one of them has told me that I don’t present like a normal hemochromatosis patient. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time a doctor had told me that I could probably pay my whole mortgage next month. If my iron saturation goes above 50%, which it was doing every few months, then I have to give up a pint of blood. I would be good with that if I could donate my blood. But main doesn’t have blood centers that use another level of filtering for hemochromatosis blood. Colorado has it mean dozen people with this condition have more red blood cells than the average bear, so they like to run their blood through another filter to even it out. Before anyone else gets it. There’s no harm in someone else getting hemochromatosis blood. The irony, pardon the pun, is that the Red Cross took my blood right up until I was diagnosed. And personally, if I needed a blood transfusion, I would want blood from someone with hemochromatosis to get that extra iron back inside my bloodstream as soon as possible. There I go digressing again. However, the overall point in sharing this remains. If you have a condition where diet can have a big impact, like diabetes, it’s important to take that into account for yourself. Diet is a huge avenue to prevent a chronic condition, not just for pain, but it can also head off other issues that stem from diets such as high cholesterol, heart disease, type two diabetes, and even bone disease like osteoporosis. The tendency when you muster motivation to change diet is to go all in. Well, that’s admirable, you’re likely to set yourself up for failure by being super strict, you are most likely to make sustainable changes. You are most likely to make sustainable changes if you make them very slowly. In a future episode, we’ll dive deeper into diet. But for today, I just want you to start to bring awareness to what you eat and how it affects you. And consider changing one thing about your diet. Whatever you decide to change, change that only for three weeks, it takes 21 days for something to become habit that, huh? See what I did there? Yes, stack the cards in your favor rather than against you. Then choose something else you want to change after those 21 days, one thing at a time. Or if you decide to do something super strict, make sure it’s for a limited time. And also make sure you plan and how are you going to return to your normal habits again. When I did my juice fast this winter, I was really surprised at the result. When I did my juice fast this winter, I was really surprised at the result. It was a 30-day fast and I made every batch of juice myself was nothing but juice tea and homemade nut milk for 30 days and water too. Of course. Yes, I do qualify this juice fast is super strict. And I carefully planned my return to normal. This fast reset my cravings and made it easier to sustain a healthy diet. shockingly easy actually. But it’s also because I took all other limits off myself and decided to trust that my body will show me what it really wants. One thing I’ve learned along the way about my body and myself. The second I tell myself, I can’t have something. I want it all the time. Do you do that too. Anyway, this means that despite the fact that I eat very little meat, and sometimes I’ll go a week or two without meat and I won’t even notice it. The second I call myself a vegetarian, I will start craving chicken like a teenager craves their phone. By not enforcing limits, and only paying attention to how my body feels I’m able to keep to a super healthy diet with great ease. This is sustainable for me to do and as a result, I didn’t have to give up a pint of blood the last time the doctor checked my iron levels. I allow myself to have a treat once a week to because I know I need that Score one for awareness and sustainability who not to mention, I can poop like a champ on the daily. Not that you really needed to know that. But as someone formally referred to as constipated and diapers, it kind of makes me proud. Continuing along the lines of getting to know your body better to avoid the pain journey. To start a journal if you don’t have a journaling practice already, I’ll put a link in the show notes to download my free ebook called the four areas to help you start this process. Journaling is a part of the area I refer to as mental and not enough. Well, you are mental kind of way. I mean it in a, what are you doing to help build mental resilience and create a healthy state of mind kind of way? Plus journaling or capture where you are right now. So where are you right now? What can you do in a day? How much can you do before you have to stop and take a break? Touching on the physical area? Again? How much movement can you tolerate? What movement makes your body feel better? And what movement makes it feel worse? What do you like to do for exercise or movement? Exercise is a key component of wellness. And that’s also a way to help prevent injury and disease. slipping back into the mental area again. I kind of love that mental area. Haha. What about meditation or, or breathwork? slipping back into the mental area again. I kind of love that air quote, mental area. Haha. What about meditation or breathwork? Do you have any practices around either of those. They can be used together or separately. But there’s usually a breathwork component within meditation, and a meditation component within breathwork. There are tons of different types of breath work. This is not my area of expertise. So I invite you to do some research and see what feels best for you. Some can raise energies, others can relax you. And some will blow your dang mind how well they work. Meditation is going to give you the opportunity to go inward and connect with your body and mind in stillness. Meditation isn’t about thinking about the rest of your day, or thinking back over the day you just had. Meditation is stillness, and letting the day fade away. It’s connecting to your higher self, your true self. Meditation, excuse me. Meditation will calm your mind and slow your brainwaves. It also allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level. And I have seen amazing things come from a regular meditation practice. A client I had the opportunity to work with for good length of time had an issue with their ear that was incredibly intrusive and bothersome to their life. Through a cognitive movement session, as well as some journaling and other activities to help them connect to their body on a deeper level. They found that their body and more specifically their ear, wanting them to meditate more regularly. Now they have turned their issue with their ear into their superpower. And they continue to gain more insight for their body and life, the more they meditate. It turned out their body was giving them clear messages and guidance. And once they understood those messages, they were able to take action and lower the amount of interference from their ear. Next, start to pay attention to yourself talk. This is the verbal area. Is your vocabulary more full of the word want, or need. That was one of the best lessons in semantics from Melanie Curtis. Thank you, Mel. And you guys will meet her in the next episode. Want implies choice. Need implies a deficit. What about should? How often are you telling yourself you air quote should do something? Are you shooting all over yourself? Or are you allowing Grace should also implies a deficit? If you should do something else? What shouldn’t you be doing that you are doing? Get your brain all been a pretzel? Please stop. And while I’m at it, are you kind of yourself? Are you hard on yourself? How do you handle your mistakes and your misses? Do you celebrate your successes are you just kind of get and go on to the next thing. There’s so much more within each of these areas, even in verbal itself. But the point here isn’t overwhelm you. If you’re listening and thinking, Oh, holy shit, there’s a lot I didn’t even realize. Then give yourself a round of applause with me. Congratulations. For real Congratulations. This means that you have so much available to you to raise your awareness and keep your body feeling good or to return to a place with less pain. If you’re already in the journey with chronic pain as you’re listening today. All of these important areas. These are all important areas to start to bring awareness into in order to help yourself stay well. And also to get back to wellness. There’s one left to For those keeping track. Again. Please don’t try to dive in to everything I mentioned today all at once. The last place I’m going to recommend is an area you can work on in order to tip the scales in your favor to avoid a chronic issue. Deal with your shit. This is the emotional area. I don’t call ship because it doesn’t matter. I just call it that, for lack of a better term really, it’s just stuff we don’t want to deal with. It’s crap. I don’t call it shit. Because I’m I’m putting you down at all. It’s the crap you don’t want to deal with it’s junk. So it shit. Regardless of what it is, whether you’re abused, bullied or traumatized in some way, start to examine whatever happened. For whatever pain or abuse you have suffered in your life. I am truly so sorry that you had to go through whatever it was. You made it though. And you’re here. consult a professional please, if you haven’t touched in any painful parts of your past yet. This isn’t something you need to do alone. Nor do you have to what kind of support do you have in your life. This is part of both emotional and mental, having adequate and reliable trustable support and love in your life, versus people who are going to enable you or bring you down or to try to take advantage of you. When my house was filled with people who didn’t care about me and only wanted to take from me, my body was unable to heal. Contrast that to being back in my own space, and only allowing those who have earned my trust to be up close to me to support me. And in that space, I found healing. And I broke through my chronic pain after eight-plus years of suffering. My hope is that you took some notes today, and you have an idea of where you want to start. Just start to journal. My ebook download will be in the show notes. Simply start to review the day. How did you feel today? What was your pain level? What were you able to do? What did you want to do? But you weren’t really up for it today? How are you talking to yourself? Did you reach out to anyone? And if so how did that impact you? Simply start to bring awareness into your life. Unless you know the pattern, you won’t be able to shift it and delete it. Thank you for joining me todayMy guest next week is my first guest ever on the pain chaser podcast. My very awesome coach, friend, and mentor Melanie Curtis will be joining us to talk to us about using comedy as a skill in life. You won’t want to miss this one.