Chronic Pain Centre, Day I

Yesterday was my first official appointment with the CPC and I am rather hesitant to say this: I think it may have been a rather insightful visit, to some degree. This doesn’t mean that I’m happy about those manditory classes which I am still required to attend before some of the treatment will be started, but it does mean that there is a possibility of making things more tolerable.

The first surprise was that it wasn’t two visits in two hours, with two separate doctors like I was led to believe, but one appointment with “my whole team” all at once — doctor, psychologist and nurse.

I think what’s making me feel a little less ambivalent of the whole experience is the team’s belief that they have an actual idea as to how to make things more manageable. As a side thought, I’m starting to tire of the word “manageable”, it’s a term that’s constantly being drilled into your head.

I realize that it’s the CPC’s job to deal with patients with chronic pain, but I’m so used to all my doctors telling me that there is no cure for my illnesses (SALLY, Lupus, Lungs, etc), “we’ll just watch & see what happens over time”. Being told, “We think we have an idea as to what might be causing your pain. We have a tentative plan of action, but first we’re going to deal with A before moving on to B & C.”, completely stunned me.

So what really happened yesterday?

LOTS of Q&A.

It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought in terms of having to rehash the whole thing with SALLY. In fact we didn’t really talk much about it. We did, on the other hand, talk about my sleep issues — the anxiety, feeling like it’s a constant waste of time, not being able to sleep because of the Moose, etc, etc. It would appear that not being able to sleep like a normal person really upsets me and I’m still surprised at how much I’m bothered by it. Not only that, but talking about my current feelings of lack of direction and purpose in life because of SALLY also really, really, really upsets me. I certainly didn’t go into the appointment with the intention of having a meltdown talking about stuff, but it happened.

Other things we talked about: my relationship with The Hubbs, how my family dealt with things like grief, how we/I blew off steam when growing up, what I do during the day, my social support network, how much social activity The Hubbs & I have with friends, #Ranma! (yes, really), LJ, my daily activities, my eating habits, why it’s so important to me to make & eat dindin with The Hubbs, what my plans were after massage pre-SALLY and of course the in depth discussions about my pain patterns and what I’ve done in the past to deal with it.

After the whole spill your guts out powow, I had mini-physical to determine where my areas of pain were and then the team went off for a few minutes to discuss the next course of action.

For one, I dunno why people keep saying this, but it’s starting to really give me a weird complex about myself — they’ve determined that I’m an exceedingly bright person who’s just had too much to deal with in the last few years and it’s suddenly come to a head where it’s too overwhelming for my body to handle. Seriously. Complex.

Secondly, they’re thinking that my pain might be partially caused by my inability to sleep. The viscious cycle of having to take The Moose to take away the pain, but makes my brain run like a hamster on speed is probably not helping matters when we’re also dealing with my feelings of anxiety about sleep and it being a waste of time. To start with, to try and shut my brain up, I’ve been prescribed Trazadone. If we can get my brain to shut up so I can sleep, it would be a positive step forward in possibly reducing the amount of pain medication that I’m taking. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a place to start.

Once we’ve dealt with the sleep issue and have that under control, there’s also the possibility of changing my pain meds to something that might work better. If it’s the sleep issue that’s actually causing me most of my problems, they don’t want to be messing with what’s working for me.

In between now and then, I am basically hooped for the month of November. I’ll be at the CPC every week attending those classes that I’m really not looking forward to. The first mandatory class I need to take, which is one of two pre-requisites for ongoing treatment, is Explaining Pain. The purpose of the class is to: improve understanding of the neurobiology of pain, provide current knowledge about the causes of chronic or persistent pain, increase awareness of the adaptability of the nervous system, and provide a brief review of strategies that improve the ability to influence the pain experience. This class is actually the one I’m least bothered by.

The second pre-requisite class, and this is probably highest on my list for not being thrilled with, is Goals Group. As it sounds, purpose of the class is to: develop goal setting and problem solving skills, identify sabotages and barriers for goal attainment, identify one to two goals which will initially guide CPC program, and options for setting further goals as participate. I have no idea what that last point is supposed to mean, I think it might be a typo in the package description. This is the class that is causing me the most angst. Like I’ve said before, I have no interest in sitting in a room of complete strangers plus a therapist (or whatever they choose to call the person teaching the class) talking about my goals for pain management. Talking one-on-one with someone, fine, I am game to take that on, but I really don’t want to listen to a roomful of people talk about their issues, pains, disappointments and what they hope to attain from this program. Zero. Zilch.

Backtracking to a couple weeks ago, having attended the orientation class explaining all about what the CPC is trying to achieve for patients and listening to the psychologist who was presenting (not the one I am seeing, thank goodness), when she mentioned that teaching the exact same Goals Class over and over to ten different people is basically a waste of her time when she could put them all into one room and do it all in one go, really put me off having to attend. Her scoffing at what one of her current patients is personally hoping to achieve as a goal and what they feel is to be their purpose in life to work towards, should not be seen as a negative goal to attain. Who wants to hear that after significant soul searching of what you want to achieve is never going to happen because a psychologist says so? Why would a psychologist say that kind of thing when they’re supposed to be guiding and teaching you how to set goals for yourself? Blargh. So that’s my belated rant about the CPC orientation a few weeks ago.

…Back to our currently scheduled program…

So yea, in between all the classes I have to take, I do have follow-up appointments with the physician as well as a couple of one-on-one sessions with the psychologist on my team. For now, I’ve decided to stick with the CPC to see what happens. There will probably be more angst in the coming months as we delve deeper into what’s really going on in my brain. So for now, keep your fingers crossed that something good comes from all of this.

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2 thoughts on “Chronic Pain Centre, Day I

    1. TeaseMeGirl

      Some of the classes offered ARE useful to me and I do have veritable interest in, I’m just not into the whole public speaking and sharing my feelings with strangers thing :/
      To be honest, there’s a whole TON of classes that even boggles my mind. The therapy classes alone are impressive, but the number of public-welcome classes are mind-boggling.
      Rehab therapy groups: Smart moves, mastering activity, aqua therapy, core fundamentals upper & lower body, core fundamentals pelvic region.
      Functional therapy recovery groups: pelvic stretching, upper & lower body stretching, trigger points.
      Psycho-educational therapy groups: relaxation, self-management, family workshop, intimacy, chronic pain & sex, self-management maintenance, sleep.
      Public lecture series: Introduction to pain, This is your body, Medications, Role of exercise in managing pain, Pacing in pain management, Nutrition, Attention & memory, Anxiety depression & chronic pain, Sleep, Understanding medical investigations & the health care system.

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