Coping, Resources, Treatment

Web MD’s Pain Management & Migraine Relief Blog

Indie Cooper-Guzman, WebMD‘s pain management and migraine expert, has recently started a blog on exactly that. Using her knowledge gained as an RN and a chronic pain sufferer, Indie is devoted to educating health care providers about chronic pain and managing it successfully. Through her work with WebMD, she teaches patients a lot too. In addition to a blog, she also moderates the migraine/headache and pain management forums and the back pain support group.

Some of this week’s poignant posts include:

Grieving the Loss of a “Normal” Life is on a topic that many of you know intimately. It’s a comforting post in that it’s a reminder that we’re not alone, but far more comforting are the lessons learned that Indie shares. Yes, you grieve the loss of your life as you know or expect it to be, but you also learn how to live a better life.

“I remember what it was like when I realized my life would never be “normal” again…

“I went through a period where I didn’t want people I knew to see me like I was. I worked extremely hard to perfect my new walk and conceal the slight limp and the fact I would sometimes have to walk by swinging my leg from the hip when it failed to respond like it should. It is something I know I will have to deal with for the rest of my life but I am ok with it now.

“Being an independent female much of my life, I think the hardest thing I had to accept was the fact I would need to rely on others to help with certain things I had ordinarily done by and for myself. I still struggle with that one and probably always will.”

Mandatory Pain Management Education takes a constructive approach to fixing the problems associated with treating pain with opioids — in contrast to my recent preachy posts. She even links to some educational resources.

“Pain and pain syndromes are not going to go away. Mandatory education for all health care professionals, political and health care business/insurance workers, and anyone else who is involved with health care should be considered. It is necessary. Although we all have busy lives, it is time to demand some accountability for the standards of practice in pain management.”

Patient Education, Resources, Treatment

Health Beyond Headache

I think about my health a lot. So I figured I was taking care of all my health care needs. Until a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months before her 32nd birthday. Even though she’s so young. In my grief for my friend, I realized how much I’ve neglected my body. I never do a breast self-exam. For that matter, I hadn’t had a physical since 1997. I hadn’t even established a primary care doc in Seattle.

Last Friday I saw an internist, who happens to be my friend’s doctor, whom I adored. I had my blood pressure and cholesterol tested, and was also tested for diabetes and thyroid problems. (I have symptoms that could be either one, but could also just be drug side effects. No worries yet.)

Yearly physicals are no longer considered necessary, but everyone should have certain tests regularly. Unfortunately, finding consensus on how often some things, like cholesterol, should be checked is difficult. Age is another factor in the equation, and is how WebMD categorize’s it’s recommendations:  20s & 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and older. These guidelines are a starting point, but I perused many sources for test frequency recommendations and found varying suggestions. Talk to your doctor about the frequency he or she recommends and ask whose recommendations guide that decision. You can then learn the reasoning behind those guidelines and decide if you’re comfortable with that.

It’s too easy to believe you’re not vulnerable. That eating cookie dough regularly won’t raise your cholesterol or that the two servings of vegetables each day is enough. That tests won’t show any problems, so there’s no reason to do them. In other words, we’re dishonest with ourselves. We all know it, even if we choose to turn away from the truth. Hiding from this reality may be most well-practiced behavior.

I wish that my friend didn’t have to endure the turmoil of breast cancer, but her story is the seismic disturbance that woke me up. Maybe it will help you too.