Sunday, May 31, 2015

7 Ways to Feel Happier Right Now

I ran up on an article from Glamour magazine that had some interesting points in it about happiness and I am all for happiness. Check it out!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chronic Pain, Addiction & Encouragement

Ten percent of people who are prescribed opioid analgesic drugs to address chronic pain become addicted to them.
Please allow that to soak in for a moment. Ten may not sound like much in the broad scheme but couple that with the finding that 20-30% of those prescribed these drugs are misusing them. That comes out to 1.9 million Americans living with prescription opioid abuse or dependence. These types of drugs are commonly prescribed for chronic pain and bear familiar names:

•codeine (Atasol, Tylenol 2, 3 or 4)
•meperidine (Demerol)
•hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
•oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)

The CDC conducted a survey with the following as one of the findings...
"By 2010, enough OPR were sold to medicate every American adult with a typical dose of 5 mg of hydrocodone every 4 hours for 1 month."
 This has not improved despite efforts to more closely regulate and monitor, not only the drugs, but the patients themselves through adequate follow-ups.  Overdoses from opioid analgesics are frighteningly high and misuse is not decreasing despite widespread information of how damaging these drugs are.

The science and complexity of addiction are clearly a large body of information unto themselves. I keep learning about addiction and researching ways that massage is helpful as a tool in the treatment of addiction and there is so very much to learn; so much that makes me hopeful for the clients who need this kind of care. Which brings me to my point: Besides the obvious downsides of abused pharmaceuticals, are the reasons that people need them in the first place...pain.

Chronic pain cycles are often vicious and always exhausting. The symptoms can and do vary widely and what works to manage it during one pain cycle may not even touch it during the next. Opioid analgesics provide relief. They do not treat the problem but they do address the pain. There is nothing in the world wrong with accepting pain killers when you need them. There is no shame and no need for guilt because they are another tool and one with a definite place. Pain is underappreciated by those who have never really suffered with it long term.

What I would implore is that you...
1. Know the facts about the prescriptions that you take. Understand what it does. I mean, what it really does. Learn about the short and long term effects on the body. Learn about the addiction risks. Learn how to use them responsibly. Do not underestimate the power of brain chemistry and how it can change your behaviors. Research it a little. Even a few minutes spent researching is a few minutes that you have put toward being responsible for your well being. You'll know more than you did before and that is never a bad thing.

2. Explore your options for chronic pain control. Try a massage! Massage has a huge and proven success rate with c.p. sufferers. Make it part of your own wellness plan and don't let yourself be distracted from getting to those appointments. Engage your own self care and create the toolbox that you need to manage your pain. Talk to your massage therapist about protocols regarding prescriptions and getting a massage. There is a time period between when you have taken a prescription and receiving massage that must be respected and anything that you confide to your massage therapist remains private.  Try acupuncture! Try essential oils! Try meditating! Try Reiki! Blend holistic therapies into your standard medical care (with plenty of communication with your physician, of course.) to reap bigger and better results. You are mind, body and spirit. Address yourself as a whole.

3. Keep learning! Chronic pain syndromes are not curable as yet. It is diverse. Not all of them share a root cause and with many of these, there is yet to be a discernable cause at all. Hopefully you trust your doctor but, above all, I hope that you trust yourself as well. Be a responsible caregiver to yourself. Have your best interests at heart at all times because no one will care for you like you will! There is a world of knowledge out there and I hope that this will help lead you on the way to learning more about your prescriptions, more about why you are in a pain cycle, more about how to manage what you are going through.

Every day you hear of prescription drug abuses. "On the rise" is a phrase I regularly hear on the news when this topic comes up and, despite more and more public awareness, it is, indeed, increasing. Opioid analgesics are a current leading cause of death. Just be aware and know that there are options out there to aid you in pain relief and control. You are not alone. There are many health professionals out there who are devoted to healing pain and who will work with you earnestly to get you where you want to be as well as providing support. Believe me, pain treatment does not begin and end with pain killers. You have options.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Imagine that...

Human beings are creative. We are creative through hobbies, daydreams, critical thinking, hopefully in our work and in a thousand other ways. I know that I am occasionally guilty of using my imagination to fuel darkly creative anxieties. For example, the last boy scout camping trip that my sons went on with their father had me absolutely paranoid that they were hurt, somewhere off in the woods, because they did not get an opportunity to call me as soon as I had hoped that they would. Like every other time that I can't immediately reach my husband or kids, these kind of thoughts step in and I imagine the worst. It's not just me, either.

I have heard other people describe going through just the same thing. Anxious thoughts took over their thoughts and every horrible situation that they are capable of imagining springs to life in their minds. I suppose that when you love something - are so soulfully invested in it - whether it is your family, your home, your job, etc., we are naturally afraid of losing it. That cruel fate will snatch it away. It happens to other people sometimes, right? Well yeah, sometimes it does. The thing is, do you really have grounds for the anxiety that takes over in those moments? You may have something tragic and painful in your past and I would never want to cheapen that. In my experience though, most people have not had those awful situations occur and with that in mind, I would ask you to reassess your reactions.

Does the worry help? Certainly not. It makes you edgy, nervous, ill tempered and any other number of negative qualities crop up depending on just how well you handle strain. I am working on not allowing my imagination to run away with me into these dark places anymore. Is it easy? Definitely not. It makes my will power really sweat it out and yours will go through the same thing. The thing is, I value peace of mind. If something bad happens, as it may, to some of my loved ones, well then it happens. There is nothing that I can do about that. If I am having an off day, does it mean that I am a bad person/ awful at my job? Nope. It means that I had an off day. That's all. And that's enough, isn't it? There's no point making it worse with negative imaginings.

 So, let's work on it together and reexamine where these types of thoughts come from and start building some new habits for our imaginations in uncomfortable, stomach ache inducing situations. Positive thinking can sound pretty hokey and I don't think that it gets you anywhere without positive, forward action but this requires some serious positive thinking and forward motion internally. It is also going to require repetition. You are going to retrain your mind and make it think in a whole new way. We can do this because our brains are pretty darn miraculous and also because I value my health and stress is counter to being healthy. You already know that, so this is kind of a no brainer. Use your imagination - your creative essence - to do wonderful things, to create wonderful things - not to diminish your wellbeing.