The Joy of Pain

Sorry if I had you going for a moment, thinking this post is going to deal with whips and chains and tight black leather. You may not want to read any further. It is, however, going to talk about pain in a way you may not have thought about—joyfully.
I am not a sadist or a masochist but since reading an article* called “Pain Pain Go Away” I’ve been thinking a lot about pain. The article included comments from Dr. Dean Tripp, associate professor in the departments of psychology, anaesthesia, and urology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In their lab at the university for the past 10 years, Tripp and his colleagues have been studying the physical, mental, and emotional factors accompanying chronic pain, and better ways of managing it.
Everyone experiences pain, Tripp says, and so we might as well get used to it, and learn how to better live with it. If we can get past the mental block of “this hurts, so I can’t do anything,” then we can manage the pain before it manages us, he says. Tripp also notes that patients may have unrealistic expectations of being “cured” of their pain. It’s more than just “mind over matter” though, he adds. There are techniques and programs that were outlined in this article, which really had an impact on me.
I contacted Dr. Tripp and we had a great conversation about the research that he and others are doing to learn more about chronic pain management. I’m going to start looking at that research and writing about both the evidence-based findings, and the stories that people like to tell about what works—and doesn’t work—for them. I’ll also share anecdotes and “unscientific” research from health and fitness practitioners who have first-hand experience helping people to live healthier lives.
I’ll be writing about this on the blog, and for an upcoming book. My first book about forging a healthier future from an unhealthy past dealing with depression and alcoholism came out in 2001. Meeting Dr. Tripp tells me this is another book that I was meant to write, and he has been very encouraging.  It’s important to me to stay with the theme of “with humour and hope” that was in my first book, and on this blog, so I’ll be looking at the funny side of pain, or at least how having a sense of humour when dealing with pain, makes it all easier.
Do you have chronic pain? What helps to manage it, and what doesn’t? Join the conversation and keep coming back to see what’s new that may help you live with your pain—joyfully.
* Good. You followed the asterisk. The article that got me started on this path is published on a website for the medical business, 2Ascribe. Some of the health-related articles I’ve written have been republished here.