The Truth Behind Treating Chronic Pain for Preppers
The Secret to Treating Chronic Pain When Medications Won’t be Available
There’s a medical secret that took me 25 years to flush out. This secret was a hard lesson learned, and goes like this: There is little a physician can do to treat chronic pain without causing as much damage to the person as the disease itself. Powerful opiates kill the pain, but at the same time they destroy families, and just about all attempts at normal social functioning. What’s worse, even those (opiates) will be gone after an apocalypse. So what do you do when someone’s drugs run out? Where can you turn?
There will be those that compensate by farming their own “herbals,” and that’s a pretty reasonable solution. But what about the others?
After having struggled with the issue over two decades, this is what I’ve finally settled on: You help the person to separate out their pain… from their suffering.
What is Pain?
Pain is an unmistakable sensation. There’s nothing imaginary about the experience, but where it’s occurring in the body has always been a bit of a mystery. For instance, if I hit my finger with a hammer, is the pain in my finger, or in my brain? If it’s in my brain, then that’s strange, because there aren’t any pain sensors up there. Strokes don’t often hurt for example. Yet there still seems to be something there, and this is where suffering comes in. It seems there is much about pain that’s still poorly understood by science.
Parse Out the Suffering
Switching to a chronic pain scenario, there are really two separate entities at play here. First, there is the physical pain the person can localize to specific body areas. Second, is the story the person tells themselves about the pain. Referred to as “suffering,” this component amplifies the pain, and keeps it in the person’s conscious awareness for as long as possible. It’s the component treatable without medications. And since it’s acting as an amplifier of the pain signals that are being biologically produced, altering it can either up-regulate or down-regulate what is being generated organically.
I’m sure you’ve known people that illustrate the point nicely. You may have one friend who limps for weeks after a minor injury to their toe, while another has Rheumatoid Arthritis, yet still seems to get out of the house and do stuff on most days. They are mentally tough, and have learned to down-regulate their suffering. But in a post apocalyptic scenario, how do you do that?
The Process is Simple
Begin by having them sit down with you quietly, and describe to you exactly where they feel their pain. Have them narrow it down to specific muscle groups, or specific areas of specific joints. Make them describe the sensations they experience in those locations as precisely possible. Is the pain sharp or stabbing? Does it come and go, or is it continuous? If intermittent, exactly how long does the sensation last? (At the beginning make them use the word sensation, because “pain” is part of the story, the story you are trying to parse out from their overall experience).
Once you are down to just specific sensations, and have cataloged all of them, stop and say: “Okay, now tell me how these sensations effect you? How do they mess with your life?” Mark this part of your session with them, as the suffering section. Don’t allow them to use sensations here. Just emotions, hopes, fears, perceptions, ideas… all of the components of a typical novel.
When you are done, summarize and review the two components they’ve just verbalized; the pain – and then the story you’ve just parsed out from it. Just seeing these two things are actually separate entities – components they’ve unknowingly intermingled – their ability to control the amplification of pain, by addressing the story portion, becomes obvious.
During your next meeting with them, ask them to tell you their story, or suffering portion again. Then get them to start questioning if certain portions of it are actually true. If they say their pain causes their life to be unlivable, question if that is actually true, or just a conclusion they have arrived at. Leave the parts of the story that seem reasonable alone, but challenge the obviously exaggerated stuff. As you progress in later meetings, you can start to chip away more deeply ingrained issues. There will always be some story, but as it starts to dissolve, so does the amplification of organic pain.
This is the only approach I’ve found to be reasonably effective, and without all the silliness and New Age mumbo jumbo. But when dealing with those who’ve been taking opiates for years, it’s nearly impossible to use this technique. Not until they arrive at the conclusion themselves that there is no other choice. Often, they’ve already convinced themselves pain medications are the only thing that will ever work for their pain. And I’ve never found a remedy for that!
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Keywords: treating chronic pain, survival medicine, preppers, treating pain, opiates, suffering