All posts tagged: pain management

Why Do I Keep Waking Up at 4:30 AM Every Day?

Sleep has always been a passion of mine. I’m always a bit grumpy when I have to leave my pile of blankets and start the day. It’s the most comfortable, comforting place I know. Like comedian Jim Gaffigan said to his bed, “You were wonderful last night… I didn’t want it to end.” My high school friends knew not to call my parents’ house after 9 pm because we would be asleep. The weirdest part is that as children, my siblings and I would put ourselves to bed at a reasonable hour. My parents would have friends over, and instead of trying to stay up with the adults, we’d wander downstairs in our pajamas to bid everyone goodnight. My brother and sister have become night owls, but I’ve always needed more time in bed because of my chronic injuries. As such, I was never an early bird or a night owl. I guess I’m sort of a late-morning angry bird. Photo credit: challiyan via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA So imagine my surprise this week when I started waking …

Huffington Post: How Long Have You Been Fighting the Chronic Pain System?

Check out my first article as a contributor for the Huffington Post! How long have you been in the system? The medical system, I mean. I’m talking about the chronic pain and illness patients ― like me ― who make a pilgrimage to the doctor’s office month after month, year after year, until the pain stops (or we die). PHOTO VIA VISUALHUNT   You know someone like this, since one in three people suffers from chronic pain in the United States. That’s right – between you, Mom, and Dad, statistically one of you is dealing with a physical or mental ailment that ranges from mild to debilitating, and has lasted longer than three months. That’s pretty loose criteria. I sailed by that marker about 12 years ago. When I was 17 our car was rear-ended by a man driving 65 miles per hour while we were stopped because of traffic. My aunt was the front passenger and my mother was in the driver’s seat. I could see my mom’s eyes widening in the rear-view mirror. I had …

Does Chronic Pain Need a Mascot? (My Answer? Yes.)

Readers, meet Rufus. I feel that a mascot is needed in my life. You know, a cheerleader who understands how hard life can be when feeling physically terrible and having your attention constantly split in half. Chronic pain is vague by definition; it can be widespread or localized in the body, stabbing or dull, intense or flat. We only have the unifying term of “spoonie,” which is derived from the Spoon Theory. While that does a great job of describing why we power down without warning (because we’ve “run out of spoons,” each spoon representing a daily activity), it doesn’t give me a good visual besides — well, cutlery. I wanted to show the chronic pain and illness experience, but I needed something that would also put a smile on my face. Like, “Yeah, chronic pain is exhausting and endless. Let me explain my day to you. Let me help you understand. I’ll try to make you laugh while I talk about it, because I know how depressing this topic is.”   I couldn’t design that …

The Pulse: Are Good Care and Compassion Lost in Efforts to Curb Opioid Prescriptions?

The title asks a great question. The Pulse of WHYY Radio asked that question of me in a podcast, and here is what I said! They also included the counter-perspective of a physician and health consultant, which I think was a great way to balance the conversation. Go listen to the melodious sound of my voice! It’ll air live next Friday at 9 am (I think), so if you’re in the Philadelphia/Delaware/Southern Jersey area, turn on that radio and tune in! Link again to the podcast: click here!

The Quell Pain Relief Device: One Year Later

One year ago today, a beautiful relationship between man and machine began. I shall weave my disclaimer into the story: This day last year, FedEx delivered the Quell pain relief device that I’d bought during their Indiegogo campaign. I hadn’t been contacted by the company to try it, and I paid for it with money that I earned. I keep several alerts on my news feeds, and I found it in a story about new medical devices that contained this slim, mostly unobtrusive wearable. It sounded too good to be true — it could produce endogenous opioids within my body, like natural versions of the medications I fought so hard each month to receive? All-over pain relief by wearing an electrode on the calf? I didn’t care if it sounded too good to be true. I had to try it. And I have tried it for approximately 350 out of the past 365 days. About one week of that was when I transitioned to a work-from-home situation. My routine was so interrupted that I simply …

Guest Post: Water Exercise for Chronic Pain Relief

Chronic pain comes in many forms: aching in the joints, dull burning in the muscles, or shooting pains throughout the body. While some bodily pain after an injury or surgery is normal, pain that persists beyond average recovery time or that arises inexplicably is considered chronic. The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines chronic pain as “any pain lasting more than 12 weeks.” These pains can be sharp or dull, localized or felt throughout the body. The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) widely recommends exercise therapy, or “active therapy,” to increase the range of motion, strength, and flexibility and to enhance the quality of life. Though resting the body may seem like a tempting option, doctors have come to recognize that inactivity typically exacerbates symptoms. Dr. Edward Laskowski, a rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic, explains, “[w]hen you rest, you become deconditioned — which may actually contribute to chronic pain.” Whether you suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, or another physically debilitating illness, remaining active is paramount to managing pain. Exercise for …

Does HFactor Hydrogen Water Actually Work for Fatigue, Recovery, & Energy Levels?

Through my membership in the Chronic Illness Bloggers program, I am able to review products that normally I would never even see or — if I did see them in a store — think to buy. It’s exposing me to a world of items that I had not thought were remotely relevant to chronic pain and illness patients. Like, for instance, HFactor Water — infused with more hydrogen! NECESSARY DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post. I was given six Capri Sun-like packs of HFactor, as well as straws, through my membership in the Chronic Illness Bloggers’ network in exchange for my thoughts and opinions regarding the product. All opinions are my own, and besides the gift of the HFactor pouches, I have not been influenced by the company in any way.  Of course, water already has hydrogen, hence the H20 makeup. However, hydrogen-rich water is supposed to help a number of ailments ranging from diabetes to the side-effects of chemotherapy. Improvements have been confirmed by studies (this linked one is specifically on metabolic syndrome), but the benefits of hydrogen-rich water have not been …

Pain News Network: Media Hysteria and the Opioid Crisis

Hello, my darlings! Check out my latest column for the Pain News Network! _________________________________________________________________ I recently received this email from a family member: Hi Jen, I was listening to a thing on pain medication and why prescription meds are so dangerous. They turn the receptors off in the brain and the person forgets to breathe.  That part is a totally separate thing from the pain. Dr. Sanjay Gupta was on talking about it. I think that is a very valid argument about overuse of pain meds. For example, Prince had very valid issues to use the meds and also lived a very clean life style. If he overused, it goes to follow that someone who doesn’t lead a clean lifestyle is in more danger. It’s not the meds as much as the brain receptors. The breathing part is scary. So I’m not such an advocate anymore…..unless you can tell me this isn’t true and why he would say that. I love you and don’t want anything to happen to you. Xoxoxox I got mad after …

Pain News Network: The ActiPatch

Here’s my latest column for the Pain News Network! Loyal readers, I have returned. It’s been a tumultuous month of bad days and flares, so while I was absent from my writing duties, I was trying out a hodgepodge of products designed to offer pain relief. Naturally, none of them worked. Let’s discuss. A while ago it was suggested that I try the ActiPatch. I was originally introduced to this new form of pain product by Lil’ Bub, the celebrity cat. I should probably explain that. Lil’ Bub, full name Lillian Bubbles, is a perma-kitten, meaning that she will retain her kitten-like characteristics for her entire lifespan. She also has an extreme case of dwarfism and a rare bone condition called osteopetrosis (the only cat in recorded history to have it), which causes her bones to become incredibly dense as she grows older. This causes pain and difficulty when she tries to go from Point A to Point B. Her person, called the Dude (like Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski”), discovered the Assisi Loop, which …

Pain News Network: the Emotional Insight App

Here’s my latest column for the Pain News Network! Biofeedback is probably the closest thing to having actual superpowers. To quote the Mayo Clinic, it’s “a technique you can use to learn to control your body’s functions, such as your heart rate” by using electrical sensors to “receive information (feedback) about your body (bio).” In theory, this can help you learn to control things like muscle relaxation, which often helps to lessen pain. What if you want to go deeper than that, though? In my own experience as a chronic pain patient, I’ve come to realize that much of pain — or rather, the compounding of pain — is emotionally derived. It can be stress from work, an argument with a spouse, dreading a rent payment, or anything else that thrills against your nerves. How does one separate the emotional aspect of pain from the physical? How do you know when you’re being your own worst enemy? You look inward. Somehow my father stumbled across the Emotional Insight app and sent it my way. I was …