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Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by SpeedyStill on Jan 4, 2020 9:31 pm

When we deal with pain it can affect how our mind deals with our actions and reactions.
How do we distinguish between pain and depression. Our body reacts to both in the same way.
There is Reality and then there is our imagination that can distort reality.
When I was going through my Chemotherapy Treatments was it pain or depression that was causing me to say things that I would not normally say.
Looking back I can't remember being told that my reactions would be different.
The Physiologist I was seeing would let me vent but I can't remember being advised that my reactions were normal.
I have been dealing with pain even after my treatments were over and it continues now.
Hopefully this will open a discussion on pain a subject that does not get a lot of air time.

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by CentralAB on Jan 4, 2020 9:41 pm

Hello SpeedyStill‍  You raised a good point, and your questions are an important part of the journey. I will post a little more on this when I have time/energy. Pain can be a very subjective topic, and chronic pain is much different that acute pain. You are correct in thinking that sometimes its "just in our mind," but also just as correct when you say that it really hurts. The pain is always real. As to how its dealt with, well the answers vary widely. I have to run for now but I will be back. You can't go wrong by asking questions on this vital topic.

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 5, 2020 11:55 am

Good topic, SpeedyStill‍ . Pain can definitely affect our thinking.

Dad’s depression worsened when he got “settled in” to his current chemo regimen. We were able to have it attended to when he had his fall, and acute pain came into the picture (his chemo had been causing discomfort, but not so much actual pain.) I saw the effects of pain on him when he had his fall. He hurt his ribs, and he looked so much worse on Monday than he had when I’d last seen him the previous Saturday, I got him to emerg. I can smile at it now, but I know how the pain had affected Dad’s thinking when he agreed with me to take him to the hospital!

CentralAB‍ , I find that some of my minor aches or pains can sometimes be relieved by using mindfulness techniques on them.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by AniD on Jan 30, 2020 2:17 am

This is a good topic for discussion! Thank you for bringing it up. I’ve found, and what other people who have gone through chemotherapy that are my friends have found, that you do change in the way that you respond to “normal” situations when you’re in pain. Pain can be classified as mental, physical and emotional of course. With chemo, I found my emotions were all over the place. Happy, sad, depressed, moody, melancholy, relieved, etc. It depended on where I was at in the course of treatment and of course how much physical pain I was in. I found myself crying at the strangest of times. I found it harder to control my emotional outbursts as well. I felt like a teenager going through puberty all over again. I took almost everything personally. If you knew me, you’d know this was completely out of character. I’m a government civil servant for crying out loud; you don’t get anymore even keel and flat emotionally than that (sorry I had to, my career is amazing don’t get me wrong, but emotionality is not part of what I do for a living, especially considering I live in spreadsheets, but I digress). Yet, being in pain somehow brought out the worst in me at times, and at times I suppose the best of me. It proved how strong I really am and that I’m a fighter. It also proved that I’m vulnerable as well, which for me was difficult to get over. I like to consider myself a pretty independent person most of the time. It made me see what my priorities are in my life and what are not. I have also become much more blunt, to a fault I think at times. Something I was not before. I have said things at times to people and those I love I likely would never have said and the whole cancer journey has made my BS (I can say that right?) filter switch to high gear. I have no time for people who aren’t authentic and that includes me (if I’m not being real or authentic I mean). Anyways, my point is that pain can be a powerful unharnessed beast at times and other times a wonderful motivator. Usually it motivated me to find creative and researched based ways of getting out of it. I have never done more research than during this whole cancer journey I’m on and I’m educated, I have a degree and part of my career is doing research, so that says a lot. Towards the end of my chemotherapy, I was discussing research with my Oncologists rather then my own medical file. I have learned holistic ways of managing pain and of course medical treatments. I found the more I understood what was happening to me, the less I feared. It gave me a better understanding of my chemical make up and I learned more about what my body can actually do; it’s amazing what the human body can endure. As much as I’m resigned to admit it, my pain has been educational for me. I suppose you could say, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I don’t ever want to go through what I went through again, but I’m grateful for it because it taught me life lessons I would never have likely have learned otherwise. I’m not embellishing either. I had some very rough days. Days I was sure I was done with chemo and that was that. I also had days when I knew I could make it and I did. I found the best thing I could do while in that state of pain was to first and foremost accept it. Accept what was and work through it as best I could. Oh I didn’t have to like it, but I sure did have to accept it. Fighting it only made it worse in every way, especially mentally. By the time I had a recipe to fix the pain from chemo, I was done. Each chemotherapy treatment I had was different from the previous, in terms of pain management drugs, side effects, etc. There was zero consistency each time and of course I had to adapt each time, six times in total. So when I finally had it all figured out, and was a pro at “doing chemo”, I was done. Go figure. The second thing I learned, and this was a big one, was compassion for myself. Dear Lord above this was hard. Expectations wane as your pain increases, or so I found. Things I was upset about the week before became a joke when the pain level was so high I couldn’t get out of bed from bone pain or couldn’t sleep. Your hierarchy of needs becomes rearranged to say the least. The third thing was learning to depend on others when I was in pain and be okay with that. Whether it was as simple as getting help with rides, talking things through with loved ones (emotional help), etc. I learned to be gracious and accept the help being offered and communicate when I needed it (people aren’t mind readers after all). The fourth lesson I’m still learning is letting go. As I near the end of my radiation treatments, I am learning how to let go of that pain. Pain that’s still there (I’m having skin reactions and am dealing with them) of course, but also the emotional pain of what I’ve endured over the last 9 months. This is a tricky one for me because I’m still in it. Once I’m done treatments and on the mend, I hope to release mentally, physically, emotionally and hopefully on a cellular level, these past 9 months of “pain”, because let’s be real here, I don’t plan on carrying that with me for the rest of my life. I hope in the years to come I really won’t remember it at all. That’s my hope for everyone who has to walk the path of a cancer survivor. Well, that’s my long-winded take on pain and cancer. It was cathartic to write about it. Many thanks 🙏🏻 for this forum, for everyone’s honesty and of course to you for bringing this topic up that I didn’t even realize I had so much to say about. ♥️ 

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 30, 2020 9:44 am

Hi, AniD‍ ,

thank you for sharing your experiences with pain, as well! I’m so glad that you’re not going to carry that around with you the rest of your life! 

I once read a saying about pain - years ago - that went something like “we’re not supposed to remember pain. If we did, we’d all be an only child, because our moms would have stopped at one.”

We talk a fair bit here on the site about alternative and complementary therapies and how they can conflict or interfere with modern medical treatments. Pain is the one thing where seeking these out is often tried, in part because pain can drive us to some pretty dark places.

My Dad has chronic pain for a neck injury he sustained, they believe, when he was a teenager. It flared up about 12 years ago, and he tried almost everything - even injections at the site. He finally found a chiropractor who was able to bring him some relief, and he still goes to him to this day.

I myself have tried some “whoo whoo” techniques. I’ve found that some of these techniques can be particularly effective when the pain is based in emotions. One time I was having some bad pain in my lower back, and I resorted to a body talker. The pain was gone before I got to the front door of her office building. Some people have had success with reflexology, or bio feedback, and I’ve recently met a lady who does Ayurvedic massage, and another who does Jin Sin Jyutsu. The latter two “practices” are thousands of years old, like acupuncture (but less invasive), and if it brings relief from pain, I’ll give it a whirl, where I probably wouldn’t turn to these techniques for other medical purposes. Even Reiki, which I understand was only invented in the 1920s can bring some people relief. I’ve never done it for pain, but I have felt the effect of it.

My Registered Massage Therapist is also a trained osteopath, and I keep telling her that osteopathic medicine is “magic.” She keeps asking me not to say that, (grin) - that everything within us has a connection, and that something causing us pain in our lower left hip (my most recent issue) can be affecting the headache we had yesterday.

You had some marvellous comments in your long post, and I want to highlight them, if I may:
  • Pain can be mental, physical or emotional
  • pain can change your perception of everyday things around you.
  • pain can make you vulnerable to other conditions - depression, or it can increase your resolve to “stand and fight”
  • pain can drive you to do things that are out of character - crying, short temper
  • Acknowledging pain can sometimes be a first step to overcoming it
If I’ve missed anything, please flag it for me, and thanks again for your post.

“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by SpeedyStill on Jan 31, 2020 2:17 am

This topic has resulted in some interesting posts.
I think the key here is the realization that pain can cause these effects.
It is much easier to become centered.
Now when I have pain I know that my thinking can affect how I relate.
This morning I am dealing with pain. My face is sore from the Skin Cancer treatments and I had to take the solution to prepare for my Colnoscopy at 1PM today. It is 3AM and my stomach is still making noises.
No sleep for me.
Now though I do not blame anyone or verbally lash out.
What is happening is out of my control now. 
Some things happen to us that cannot  be explained.
Anyone dealing with pain, you are not alone.

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by DonnaB on Feb 1, 2020 10:32 am

Pain can be an integral part OF the depression. Who can feel good emotionally when you have serious physical pain?   That is not how our bodies work.    Nature tells us to turn inward and be selfish and heal the pain.   We would not have survived long as a species is we didn’t try to heal our pain first. 

So, I think they are intertwined.  Heal the physical pain first.  Then your outlook immediately switches to people around you and getting joy by being with them.   

I think every Cancercare in Canada has a Pain Management Clinic.     Ask about yours and listen closely to these experts. 

Re: Pain and It's Affect on Thinking

Posted by SpeedyStill on Feb 1, 2020 7:25 pm

You hit the nail on the head. Your message is what every person in pain and every Caregiver should know and understand.
The only thing I would add is that while we are healing ourselves we should also be respectful of others.
If you are dealing with a 9 or 10 pain this is hard to do especially if you are finding no relief.
Thank you for your response