Posts tagged ‘chronic pain’

When to Refer a Woman to a Professional Counselor

The ACA recommends professional counseling if the woman is unhappy 5 days out of seven

The ACA recommends professional counseling if someone is consistently unhappy 5 days out of 7.

Often a woman in pain, grief, or transition can highly benefit from professional help. There are two factors to consider.

The first factor involves the woman. It’s especially important to get a professional counselor involved when it looks like the woman has major depression, complicated grief, major anxiety, or post traumatic stress.

These are some symptoms to look out for:

  • A pattern of alcohol/drug abuse and/or dependence
  • Characteristics of mourning that do not appear to change at all over a period of months
  • Disciplines child(ren) or pet over harshly
  • Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeater
  • Engages in self-mutation or destructive/dangerous behaviours
  • Expressions of suicidal intent
  • Feels overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Inability to be by themselves at any time
  • Lack of interest in caring for self or maintaining a good work/school ethic
  • Psychotic states (I.e. hearing/seeing things that aren’t there)
  • Severe depression
  • Sleep problems: sleeps too much or not enough
  • Thoughts of or actual actions of physical harm to self or others
  • Phobias that interfere with the quality of life
  • Uncontrollable crying/rage
  • Unreasonable paranoia
  • Victim mentality
The second factor involves the lay counselor or pastor. As a lay counselor in a church setting or a pastor, you may not have the expertise, time, personality, giftings, or resources to devote to certain types of counselling.
Here are 8 reasons why I’d refer a woman to a professional.

8. When I am "working harder" than the woman, it's time to refer her to someone else

  1. I don’t have the expertise to handle the situation.
  2. I don’t have the time to offer sessions that go on for months and months.
  3. I don’t have the emotional strength to deal with some issues.
  4. The woman does not do her homework.
  5. The woman doesn’t want spiritual help.
  6. The woman is not getting any better.
  7. We don’t connect.
You haven’t failed if a woman needs to go to a professional counselor. Nor has the woman. In fact it takes great strength to go to a counselor. And it takes humility to refer a woman for counseling.
Your Turn . . . What would you add to either list?
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6 Things Chronic Pain Taught Me

Is chronic pain/chronic illness a constant event in your life? Does this constancy wear you down? Do you blame it for your bad moods and general irritability? Has it swiped your joy?

I agree that chronic pain and/or illness does take a toll on your body, emotions, behaviours, and thoughts. But I am grateful that it can also be a good teacher. Below are 6 things I’ve learned and am striving to better implement into my life.

  1. Exhaustion. Chronic pain/ illness is  physically exhausting. Do you feel you should be able to do more and handle the demands of life better? I did. But when a doctor told me this fact I felt relief. I felt  like I had “permission” to get more rest and do things differently in my day in response to this exhaustion (like do less).
  2. Emotional. Chronic pain/ illness can wreck havoc with your emotions and you can become emotionally exhausted as well. In order to stay emotionally balanced, it is important to recognize and talk about your emotions with safe people. When experiencing chronic pain/ illness, it is normal for your emotions to see-saw from negative to positive to negative. Once I realized this was within the realm of normal, I stopped fearing that I was going crazy or was a bad Christian.
  3. Energy Boundaries. Everyone has a set amount of energy to spend each day. When you are ill, fatigued, stressed, or in constant pain, this amount of energy is lessened. Therefore, learn to use your energy wisely. Do the most important things while you are fresh (early in the day or after a nap or rest). And make doubly sure your to-do list is reasonable and doable for the amount of energy you have that day. Push yourself beyond your energy level and you’ll pay for it for several days (sometimes weeks) by being bed-ridden, having more pain and exhaustion, etc..
  4. Experienced People.[1] Do you have a long association with chronic pain and/or illness? If like me you didn’t, then maybe you too were confused by the behavioural, cognitive, spiritual, and somatic changes you went through. I travelled through this confusion by talking with others who were more familiar with this new “landscape.” This included folks with chronic pain/illness and professionals. Not only did they give me information, they also gave understanding, advice, and encouragement to not let chronic pain/illness define who I am or control my thinking and actions. And they shared their experiences and feelings which showed me I wasn’t alone in this journey.
  5. Extra Care. Frankly I get tired of and bored with focusing on my needs (good nutrition, rest, exercise, thought control, reasonable to-do list, stress management, regular time with God, etc.). However, experiencing chronic pain has shown me how important it is that I take extra good care of myself.  I want to live longer (for my kiddos and hopefully grandbabies some day) and have a better quality of life. Taking good care of me won’t guarantee a longer, better life, but not taking care will guarantee ill-health. Pain is a good motivator.
  6. Engage. How do you respond when you are in the depths of chronic pain and/or illness? I tend to isolate from activity, people, myself, and God. I did this even though I know isolation always makes me feel worse. On those super bad days I made sure I engaged with at least one of the four areas mentioned.  My goal was to always touch base with all four. My constant was always my  relationship with God.

Your Turn . . .

  1. What has chronic pain/illness taught you?
  2. Can you identify with any of the things I wrote? What would you add to it?

Related Posts

[1] Books also played the role of experienced people.

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19 Ways I Treated My Tendinitis

Constant pain makes me feel crazy-grouchy. These past 5 weeks have been a challenge to my health both physical and emotional on account of tendinitis in my left shoulder. My shoulder had been painful on and off for about 6 weeks before the pain became excruciating and constant.  When the pain became unremitting I knew I had a serious problem. And so started my journey into wellness. Again. (I had a back injury several years ago.)

I tried many things (all safe) with a  questioning mind. Below are 19 things I did or am still doing to deal with the tendinitis. Some things worked right away, but most took time. I don’t know if my results are typical are not. I do know that I had to have patience and diligence in order to get to the point where I am today.  There is a noticeable ache (half the day) in my shoulder with jabs of pain when I move the arm in a way not appreciated.

  1. Chiropractic Care. This is where I started. I went to the doctor who treated my back injury several years ago, Dr. Chris Bambus.  In addition to adjustments he also does Myofascial Release Therapy. He works on the knotted muscles by applying pressure to them. This article here gives a good explanation of trigger points. Here is a cool video showing what this is about.
  2. Interferencial Current Therapy. I also get this treatment at my chiropractor’s office. It is a creepy crawly sensation delivered to the shoulder muscles via electrodes. This therapy is meant to help with pain management. I have not noticed an immediate reduction in pain after the therapy. But I am willing to try all safe avenues to help with pain relief.
  3. MSM Powder. According to the research MSM helps with inflammation and pain relief.  I take vitamin C (also in powder form) with this. I have not noticed that it reduces the pain. I keep on taking it because I know that supplements often take at least a month of use before any difference is noted. I also read that MSM smooths out wrinkles. Now that would be a good side benefit. I buy the MSM from my chiropractor’s office.
  4. Epsom Salt Bath Soaks. This provides relief every time. I use 1 cup of salts in a hot bath and I soak for 20  minutes. I usually take a nap afterwards. I am investigating other types of additions to the water to see if or how they can help.
  5. Vitamin Supplementation. Since the Epsom salts soak helps every time, Dr. Bambus wondered if I have a magnesium deficiency. Since I don’t take vitamins, he suggested I take magnesium with calcium tablet. Please don’t leave a comment telling me how I should be taking vitamins a-z. I know I should take more. This is a process and at least I am taking these.
  6. Ice and Heat. I do this at least 3 times a day in the manner prescribed by my chiropractor. The icing feels particularly good on the deltoid muscle and on my wrist. This also helps relieve pain every time I use it.
  7. More Rest.I am not a great sleeper and have had sleep issues for years. But even if I am not sleeping, I can rest. I am making myself get more rest by going to bed earlier and taking naps when possible. I always told my children that they grew and healed while sleeping. While I may not be growing while sleeping, I am hopefully healing.
  8. Stretching Exercises. I am doing the ones suggested by my chiropractor. If it is painful, I stop. The exercises came from a book by Bob and Jean Anderson titiled, Stretching.
  9. Mechanical Aids. A hand-held massager (thanks Marsha for lending me yours) and a massaging chair (named Olga which is at my sister’s home) have provided some great massages. Both feel great. When I visited my dd she paid for me to have a massage. Oh man, did that ever help too!
  10. Hang my arm. I’ve noticed that I tend to keep my arm crooked at a 90 degree angle. So whenever I can, I hang it down, like when I am driving or walking. I like the feel of this gentle stretch.
  11. Work Environment Assessment. While most of my work-life I’ve been able to be ergonomically incorrect, my body (at least my left shoulder) won’t tolerate this anymore. So I looked at my office to see what I could do to be more kind to my body. I.e I lowered my keyboard, take 30 second stretch breaks once an hour, and am sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair.
  12. Taping. I am an athlete! At least my left shoulder is. It is taped (by the chiropractor) like an injured athlete’s shoulder would be taped. This is supposed to immobilize the muscle so that it can rest and not strain itself. Mark (my b-i-l) was a gymnast in college and says this helped them whenever they had injured muscles and tendons which was like all the time. I don’t notice that it makes a difference, but it is free, not invasive, and doesn’t hurt.
  13. Pay Attention. I hold my stress in my shoulders. Evidently I hunch up my shoulders when feeling stressed. So throughput the day I do a stress spot check to see how I am doing. If my shoulders are high, I consciously stretch and then lower them towards the ground.
  14. Arm Sling. I never realized how much I use my left arm/hand. If I was to take a lie detector test before this injury, I would have sworn in good conscience that I hardly ever use my left limb. Wearing the sling made me more conscious of my movements and it helps me to not use the left arm. Thanks Marsha for letting me borrow this.
  15. Expectations. I am learning to lower them. I cannot and should not carry things that are heavy. I either need to get help or take more trips to transport the groceries, items for Goodwill, or stuff to and from work.
  16. Positive Attitude. I remind myself that this is a temporary situation. I tell myself I can handle anything for 3 months. (I just picked a number.) If the pain is still severe after 3 months, then I will make a new plan. I tell myself the promises of Scriptures where God is my source of comfort and help and that He won’t give me more than I can bear. I ask God to help me with my attitude as I tend to get grumpy when I’m in pain that lasts for days (never mind weeks and months).
  17. Advil. Because of all these other ideas I have been able to cut down on how much and how often I use this OTC medication. I don’t like swallowing pills (which is why I don’t take vitamins) so this really is a last line of relief for me.
  18. Other ideas. Google turned up other ideas here here and here.
  19. Prayer. I have asked for prayer 6 times from my church (staff prayer, gone forward at church service and attended the Wednesday night prayer for healing time). Even though I haven’t received instantaneous physical relief any of these times, I believe and know that God can and does heal in this manner. I.e. I’ve been healed from my glaucoma, but that’s another story.  However I did receive emotional encouragement from the prayer which was something I also needed. If and when I feel prompted, I will ask for prayer again.

I feel much better today than I did 5 weeks ago. Pain is no longer my constant companion. Pain no longer dictates my to-do list. However, I see that I do need to maintain some of the above practices. I do need to continue with a life-style audit and continue to incorporate more healthy living practices into my life. The next practice I want to address is some way to deal with stress.  I naturally hold onto stress and want/need to find ways to let it go.

Your Turn . . .

  • Do you deal with a pain issue?
  • Does it influence your emotions?
  • What have you found that works?
  • What life-style changes are you making?
  • How may I pray for you?
  • What is your best stress releasing idea?

Related Posts . . .

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Recovery Actions for Woman in Chronic Pain

Chronic pain/illness can be a sneaky intruder. It can sneak up on you and throw you off-balance, send you into a tail-spin, or plunge you into a deep depression. Take steps to prevent the pain/illness from taking over your life and defining who you are.

The following five steps are a good place to start.

  1. Grapple with God until peace is found.
  2. Find new meaning for living – finding and embracing a new normal. Change is not necessarily bad.
  3. Learn new coping skills.
  4. Grieve well and each time losses come up.
  5. Keep current with communication so that relationships remain strong or get stronger.

Recovery is not a one-time arrival at a set destination. The process is ongoing and ever-evolving. Life will be different because of the pain and the losses suffered. Remember you don’t have to navigate this life alone. My goal as a shepherd and friend is to help you (a woman in pain) to become healthier in spirit. Give me a call.

When we go through any significant grief experience we come out of it as different people. Depending upon the way we responded to this event we are either stronger people than we were before or weaker-either healthier in spirit or sicker.” Granger E. Westberg

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Ministering to the Chronically Ill: 20 Ways That Take 20 Minutes

505 casserolesMinistering to the Chronically Ill: 20 Ways That Take 20 Minutes
by Lisa Copen

Rest Ministries, the largest Christian organization that specifically serves the chronically ill, recently did a survey and asked people to “List some of the programs or resources a church could offer to make it more inviting [and/or] comfortable.” They have provided a sampling of some of the 800+ responses, all of which could be done in 20 minutes or less.

1. Encouragement emails.

2. Make sure the handicapped stalls in the restroom are functioning and clean.

3. Padded chairs or cushions, room for wheelchairs, and plenty of room for my family to sit with me.

4. Be open-minded about a support group for the chronically ill like HopeKeepers. It would make me feel very special, knowing that there is an understanding of people’s needs that are not always visible.

5. Add more disabled parking, even if they are temporary spots.

6. Educate the ushers that people arriving late may have difficulty walking or getting out of cars and will need some assistance.

7. Ask volunteers to call people with chronic illness just to check on them when they don’t make it to services.

8. When suppers are given, recognize that I may need help getting my meal–or at least understand that I won’t be able to wait in a long line.

9. Be gentle when giving people big hugs. It can topple over or hurt a person.

10. Have a video tape of the service, not just a live web cast. Not all our computers work that well.

11. Make sure that the church doors aren’t too difficult to open or at least have mechanical assistance if they’re unusually heavy.

12. Stop telling me that if I really believed and had faith I would be healed by now. Please don’t insist how good I look, because I know for a fact that I look terrible and miserable that day.

13. Offer me ways to serve within the church that can be performed regularly, but not on a set schedule. I still want to contribute, but I need some flexibility so that I can do a job when I feel well enough to do so.

14. Have sermon notes available so I can listen later or even just review what I didn’t catch the first time.

15. Acknowledge National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Rest Ministries has a nice book list of top 100 Christian books for the chronically ill. It would make a nice display in your bookstore that week.

16. Just mention chronic illness occasionally! Don’t forget to talk about it in sermons as one of the challenges many people face just like unemployment or divorce.

17. Have Christian volunteers from church that will clean house for small fee. Some have offered to clean my house, but I cannot accept charity yet, but neither can I afford to pay a regular house cleaning service.

18. Help with some of the small costs of providing encouraging books and resources for the church library the chronically ill can check out.

19. Remember how many caregivers are in the church, not just caregiving for their parents, but also for their spouses or ill children.

20. Have copies of sermons for free on CD or computer.

Find over 500 ways to encourage a chronically ill friend in the book “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend” at

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Theology Impacts a Woman Experiencing Chronic Pain

889062_jesus_windowThe Bible, God’s revealed word, doesn’t give just one answer for the question of why there is suffering (pain). H.L. Willmington’s list gives 25 answers.[1] And it is possible there are more. The list of 25 Reasons for Suffering infers that one, none, or a combination of reasons could explain the “why” question. But there is no specific way to determine which answer (if any) belongs to which questioner.

God, through the prophet Isaiah, doesn’t apologize for this confusion. God’s ways are at times unfathomable and make no sense. (See Isaiah 55:8, Isaiah 45:7.) God declares that He is the Creator and thus has the right and power to do as He plans. (See Isaiah 40:25-28.) Therefore, God does not owe me or anyone else an explanation for why we suffer from pain whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual.

This finite list of reasons should not be used to explain or excuse an infinite God’s reasons for why He might allow, permit or cause suffering to occur. But many women do this. However, since a woman’s theology affects her pain[2], just like her thoughts and feelings also affect her pain (and thus her quality of life), it is necessary for a woman in pain to struggle with and come to a peace about theodicy (the problem of evil).[3]

“For me theology only becomes an issue if someone is trying to claim that it must be the result of sin & is therefore a judgment of God. I believe the life of Job & the “thorn” Paul experienced are in direct Biblical opposition to such legalism.” Connie

 Since God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent and still allows, permits or causes evil (which have a variety of views attached to it), how does a woman in pain deal with these dichotomous positions? The Bible does not give a distinct black-and-white answer. Theologians throughout the centuries have debated this issue with no resulting satisfactory, unified opinion. But the Bible does depict people in pain and what they did with it.

So it appears that the why question is the wrong question. The question that can be answered in Earth-time is how one gets through pain well. The classical chronicle of Job and his many catastrophic sufferings doesn’t answer the why[4] but the how. Job acknowledges that God is good and has the right to send trouble.[5] And yet he still struggles with God over the pain. The later chapters of Job show (through God’s own words[6]) that God is omnipotent and omniscient. This recitation of God’s history corrects Job’s misunderstanding of God. Job concedes that he ignorantly questioned God’s wisdom and that God has knowledge he never will.[7]Job’s struggle with theodicy results in a deeper relationship with God.[8]

“It’s comforting to know two things. 1. Jesus experienced pain of unimaginable severity so He understands. 2. There will be no pain in Heaven.” LS

Paul’s many sufferings have not been described with the same detail as Job’s. But enough description is shared to show his life was filled with much physical and emotional pain. 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 says Paul went through the following: 

  • Five times received 39 lashes (these were meant to kill a person)
  • Three times beaten with rods
  • One time stoned (also a death sentence)
  • Three times shipwrecked – spent a night and a day in the open sea
  • In danger from rivers,  in the city, in the country, at sea
  • In danger from bandits, own countrymen, Gentiles and  from false brothers
  • Known hunger and thirst and often gone without food

 Paul was a mighty man for God and did much to advance the Kingdom of God. Paul suffered for his single-minded approach to life.[9] God could have protected Paul from these assaults and dangers and yet He didn’t. God could have healed the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul asked three times to be removed. But He didn’t.[10] At some point Paul dealt with theodicy.

Paul’s Romans 8:18-39 could have been that answer and written for a woman in chronic pain. Paul’s theology gave him encouragement when discouragement and pain were high, a reason to keep on keeping on.

  • There’s no comparison with the present suffering to Christ’s 2nd coming.
  • All creation is subject to the curse but one day we will experience freedom from death and decay and receive new bodies.
  • It’s ok that Believers long for their bodies to be released from sin and suffering.
  • While suffering on earth, the Holy Spirit helps the Believer in their weakness partly through prayer.
  • God causes all things to work together for good for the Believer.
  • God has a plan for Believers that will come to pass.
  • God does not condemn the Believer, why should Believers care if a person does?
  • No person or spiritual being can ever separate the Believer from the love of God.

” Some answers will be helpful to those who search for understanding; some will not. Some will ring true at one time in a person’s life, but not at another. There will be times when no solution is forthcoming and one can only pray for the faith that is able to turn unanswered questions over to God.”[11]

 Think about it. What is your position on God and the problem of pain? How do your answers impact your life?

Related Articles

  • 5 Clues that Pain is Chronic
  • Chronic Pain is a Mind Body Condition 
  • Things to Do/Not Do For Someone in Chronic Pain
  •  Words to Say/Not Say to Someone with Chronic Pain 
  • One Reason Why People Ignore Those with Chronic Pain
  • 1 out of 3 People Suffer from Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blah’s

  • [1] Willmington, H. L. Willmington’s Book of Bible lists. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1987. (Logos software)

    [2] If a woman believes that God is mean or powerless, she is likely to have emotional distress. This distress leads to more pain.

    [3] The most helpful minister, counselor, friend will have done this work before counseling a woman in this area.

    [4] By this I mean that Job and those around him did not know why the events were occurring.

    [5] See Job 2:10.

    [6] See Job 38:1-42:6.

    [7] Job 42: 1-6

    [8] Job 42:5

    [9] See Philippians 1:20-22.

    [10] 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

    [11] Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (997). San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987. (Logos software)

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    5 Ways to Know When Pain Is Chronic

    1061146_peacefulAccidents, illness and growth prompt pain receptors to ignite.

    Aches and pains visit bodies young and old. Pain, we’ve been told, tells a story with  . . .  a beginning (cause) . . . middle (healing) . . .  and ending (conclusion of pain).

    But sometimes the story becomes muddled and confused. There is no recognizable theme, no point. And no conclusion.

    The pain persists beyond explanation. Pain, the silent, sneaky, and invisible intruder, shows no identifiable tell-tale sign of its existence.

    If a cause can’t be found for the pain, is the body really hurting?

    Although chronic pain may be hard to diagnose there are five characteristics that signal when pain has become chronic.[1]

    1. Your pain doesn’t go away after six months.
    2. You’ve had lots of medical “workups,” and yet no cause for the pain has been identified.
    3. You’ve tried lots of different medicines to control your pain, and yet the pain doesn’t go away.
    4. You may have undergone numerous surgeries, and yet your pain still doesn’t go away.
    5. You’ve visited doctors or other health providers over and over again in an attempt to find relief, but your search for relief has been futile.

    Even though chronic pain is often difficult to treat and even if no diagnosis is given, it is important to seek medical help . . .

    • To learn how to manage the pain and prevent more damage to the body.
    • To learn new coping skills and receive emotional support. 

    Action Step. Is it time to take action regarding your pain? What can you do to support someone with chronic pain?

    Related Articles

  • Chronic Pain is a Mind Body Condition 
  • Things to Do/Not Do For Someone in Chronic Pain
  • Words to Say/Not Say to Someone with Chronic Pain 
  • One Reason Why People Ignore Those with Chronic Pain
  • 1 out of 3 People Suffer from Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blah’s
  • ————————————————————————————————-

    [1]Stuart S.  Kassan, Chronic Pain for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, 2008, p. 10.

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    Chronic Pain is a Mind Body Condition

    1008875_girl_with_headphonesThere is a link between mind and body so it is important to treat both. The more the woman in pain understands her personal dynamics the better she will be able to manage pain. The wise counselor, pastor, family member and friend will be of greater asset to this woman if they also understand these components and regulate their advice and reactions accordingly.

    “Our tolerance for pain depends on mental attitude, the response of those around us, our ability to control our reactions to pain, and the situations causing the pain.”[1]

    Dialoging about the above components via . . .

    • journaling
    • friends
    • a pastor
    • and a professional counselor

     . . .  have helped me to deal with pain (in mind and body).  I’ve also made myself not dwell on certain things. I have a list of things to think about and a verse to meditate on when my thoughts start spiralling. I also find that music makes me “feel” better. And when nothing soothes me, I have several friends that I can always call! Their responses are supportive and bring me back to reality.

    Let’s talk about this.

    • What have you done that helps?
    • What about journaling how your pain is affected by your attitude, responses of others, or your ability/lack of ability to control your reactions to pain?
    • Can you have a discussion with a women in pain about the above?
    • How can you be supportive of others with your responses?

    Related Articles

  • Things to Do/Not Do For Someone in Chronic Pain
  • Words to Say/Not Say to Someone with Chronic Pain 
  • One Reason Why People Ignore Those with Chronic Pain
  • 1 out of 3 People Suffer from Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blah’s

  • [1] Richard Thomas. Alternative Answers to Pain. Pleasanton: Reader’s Digest Association, 1999, p 13

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    Chronic Pain Brings Losses That Need Grieving

    956734_desolationThose with chronic pain/illness have much to grieve. Often this is a topic that is not discussed very often.

    What is grief all about? Grieving is a disorderly process, unpredictable in appearance and manifestations. It is hard work and the steps to and the time it takes to processing it are individual for each woman. It differs in expression, intensity, and time.

    Because our society hasn’t (as a whole) taught us about the grief process . . .

    • its wide array of feelings,
    • its impact on our behaviors and body,
    • and the fact that grieving is normal . . .

     . . . many women struggle needlessly and far longer than necessary.

    People are also afraid of the intense feelings of others. So they change the subject, minimize the feelings and intellectualize the situation. This is done by saying something that appeals to the intellect instead of the emotions.

    To grieve well, a woman in pain needs to first acknowledge those losses. Some of these losses could include . . .

    • The changed nature of relationships – roles (at home, work, social settings) are now different for the woman in pain. “I think I alienated a lot of people at work … because I was out sick so much …. and others [had to] cover for me” (LS).  Sometimes friendships are lost.
    • Loss of present income and/or loss of future earning potential.
    • Loss of youth, healthy body functions and physical abilities, including clear thinking and use of intellect.
    • Spontaneity – Living with chronic pain is hard work and typically everything needs to be planned out in order to manage the symptoms.
    • Loss of independence.
    • Retirement dreams often must be changed, put on hold or deleted.
    • Pleasure – Available time and effort are spent on coping so that fun is often neglected.
    • Satisfying Sexual life – Low energy level and interest contribute to this loss. Also the fear of pain can contribute to lack of sexual intimacy.
    • Positive future plans – often these are viewed with fear, when time is even given to thinking about the future.
    • Self esteem.
    • Identity.

    Action Steps:

    1. What is a loss you need to acknowledge?
    2. How can this information help you be a better griever?
    3. What is one thing you can do to help a woman in chronic pain grieve a little bit better? 
    4. Use the above loss list as a prayer guide.

    “Without question [there have been losses associated with my chronic pain]. I am not the woman I once was, I lack the stamina & strength I once had….check that…it is a DIFFERENT strength & stamina.” CS

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  • Things to Do/Not Do For Someone in Chronic Pain
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  • . at . 15 comments

    Things to Do/Not Do for a Woman in Chronic Pain

    93005_lifesaver_1Obviously we can say things that make a situation worse. Or we can say something that brings value, encouragement, insight or education. These words are fruitful, helpful. The same is true with actions.

     Our actions can degrade, deflate and discourage. They can make someone feel worse. Or like positive, well thought out words, our actions can add value, encouragement, insight or education to the situation. These types of actions are fruitful, helpful.

    Below are some actions that are and are not helpful for a woman with chronic pain and/or illness.

    Don’t Do These Things[1]

    1. Don’t baby the woman or swoop in handle her affairs without her permission.
    2. Don’t diagnose or give medical answers. Instead encourage her to seek professional, medical care.
    3. Don’t use labels. A woman is not the pain; she is a person with pain (a disease, condition or syndrome).
    4. Don’t let complaining be your main  bond. Don’t allow the woman to get into the rut of complaining.
    5. Don’t stigmatize, judge or blame her especially if you think her behaviors and/or poor health habits have led to the chronic pain. Be merciful and gentle and point the woman to God.
    6. Don’t help the woman begrudgingly. If you cannot help the woman joyfully, don’t help at all.
    7. Don’t share every cure you’ve heard of for her pain/illness. She’s probably already been bombarded with cures. Let her time with you be one of respite from that kind of talk . “If you must share something, mail the information to the person with a nice note and never mention it again.”[2]
    8. Don’t make the woman into a project.

     Do These Things

    1. Create a safe place for the woman to talk. This should be a quiet, secluded spot. Give her time to answer the questions and to express how she’s feeling. Validate her pain (physical and emotional). Don’t ignore her problems.
    2. Refer the woman to a professional counselor when needed. If the woman is depressed and/or needs to learn new coping skills, a professional counselor is the appropriate resource.
    3. Encourage the woman to find a support group. There are many secular and some christian support groups for the many types/causes of chronic pain/illness. If she feels overwhelmed, maybe you could offer to find the information for her.
    4. Provide spiritual input. See if she’ll host a Bible study in her own home. Offer her a devotional about pain. Or go through a short Bible study with her.
    5. Ask the woman if she’d like more information. If yes,  refer her to the appropriate books, community resources, websites and/or another woman with a similar issue who is further along in the journey.
    6. Encourage talking openly with family members and friends. Isolation is a common problem.
    7. Ask her if you can pray for her either right then or on “your own time.” Ask what she’d like prayer for – don’t assume that you know. Pray for her family since she is probably burdened about how her chronic pain/ illness is affecting them. Don’t use prayer as a time to lecture or prove a point. Also ask if she’d like a prayer partner from church.
    8. Send notes and cards of encouragement consistently. Buy a stack of cards and pre-address and pre-stamp them. Then every week or so send your friend a card. You don’t have to say anything fancy. Write something simple like, “I’m thinking about you today. Do you remember when we __________? That’s a special memory for me. I wanted to let you know you are still special to me today.” Or, “I’m proud of how you are handing your life. You inspire me to handle my life with more ___________.” You could include a comic, a joke, a verse that brings hope or a funny picture.

    Action Items: What is one thing you will stop doing? What is one thing you will do today to be an encourager? Do you have any other ideas that would be helpful?

     “Ministering to a woman in pain needs to be real – meals, helping with the kids, cleaning her house – not asking, just coming over and doing it.” EK

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  • [1] Numbers 1-6 are ideas from Debbie and Kathy, two women who presented their story in the Women in Pain 2  class January 15, 2009.

    [2]Lisa J. Copen, So You Want to Start a Chronic Illness-Pain Ministry. San Diego:  Rest Ministries Inc, 2002, p. 45.

    . at . 7 comments

    What to Say/What Not to Say to a Woman in Chronic Pain

    33395_mouthOften why a woman has chronic pain and/or a chronic illness is not easy to decipher. Often it’s not easy to even give a name to that  pain or set of symptoms. It is unexplained. 

    Many people are uncomfortable with the unexplained.  They feel compelled to give answers for this unexplained situation. Instead of being quiet, they give answers that turn out to be stupid, not thought out and/or are hurtful. Many times a person’s theology is poorly reasoned and so they say things that are ignorant and/or judgmental.

    Below are some words that are and are not helpful for a woman in pain.

    Don’t Say This

    1. Why aren’t you healed yet?
    2. What haven’t you learned that God is trying to teach you?
    3. What did you do that God is punishing you? Just confess the sin and He’ll heal you.
    4. God must be withholding your healing for a reason.
    5. You must not be praying correctly.
    6. If you had enough faith or prayed with the right words, God would heal you.
    7. I know just how you feel!
    8. Don’t dwell on it. It could be a lot worse. Look at the bright side.
    9. It’s lucky you’re so you’re young. There’s time for a cure yet.
    10. Everything works together for good.
    11. So many people are praying, I know that you’ll be healed.
    12. You’re never given more than you can handle.

    Yes, #10  and #12 are true. But the person giving the “answers” must have the right to speak into a woman’s life and must speak at the right time.

     What do you think gives a person the “right” to speak into someone’s life? How do you know when the time is right?

    Do Say This[1]

    1. What can I do to help you? How can I support you best?
    2. I am here with you in this.
    3. What are some Scriptures you really like? Would you share when you’ve experienced God’s presenece and /or answers to prayer?
    4. What events in your life are changing and how are you coping? (#1)
    5. What motivates you to keep going when you are feeling down? (#217)
    6. How do you feel God is working though-or- despite this illness in your life. I’m interested. (#12)
    7. What do you wish people understood about your pain/illness? (#13)
    8. Ask, “How is your pain level today?” No one ever asks this and yet [her] life revolves around it. [She’ll] appreciate your concern. (# 172)

    As someone with pain, which of the helpful words did you most resonate with? Could you add to this list?

    As a supporter to one with pain, what is something you will say today to a woman in pain? Something you’ll stop saying?

          “The biggest help is probably validation without judgment.”  CS

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  • One Reason Why People Ignore Those with Chroinc Pain
  • 1 out 3 People Suffer From Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain

  • [1]Numbers 4-8 are from Lisa Copen’s book Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend. San Diego: Rest Ministries Publishing, 2008.

    . at . 2 comments

    Feelings & Thoughts Are Affected by Chronic Pain

    152348_alessandraWomen with chronic pain experience a wide range of feelings and thoughts. Some of the most common feelings are fear, anger, bitterness and depression.[1]  Even women who are otherwise in good emotional health or have a strong religious foundation will experience some of these feelings and others.

    Ruminating thoughts can also consume a woman. Thoughts like doubt and blame pair up for a one-two punch to a woman’s serenity and sense of safety. Women doubt and blame themselves and God. At times it is hard work to think on the best and not the worst or things to praise and not to curse.  At times it is impossible for the woman to change the feelings or thoughts that have her hostage.

    Regardless of the depth of your faith, pain takes over and consumes your every thought.” EK

    The feelings and thoughts of others can also hold a woman hostage.“The emotional effects of having the illness discounted, of having one’s respectability and judgment questioned, and dealing with the criticism of others can add to a woman’s fear, anger, bitterness and depression. These kinds of negative actions are even displayed by good hearted and moral Christians.

    This is where the minister, counselor, friend, or family member can help. Encourage the woman to express exactly how she feels whether it’s anger at God (or whoever/whatever) or the need to seek His support. Whether physical healing ever occurs or not hope is always needed. 

    What is one way that you can offer hope to someone in pain? What is something that you’d like to hear/receive that would bring you hope?

     Related Articles:

  • 1 out 3 People Suffer From Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
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  • [1] Stuart S.  Kassan, Chronic Pain for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, 2008, p. 15.

    . at . 8 comments

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