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Interview CP03

Age at interview: 56
Brief Outline: Brachial plexus injury following motorbike accident in 1983. Two failed nerve operations. Treatment: Pain Clinic for TENS and nerve block. Pain management: Pain Association Scotland Living with Pain course. Current medication: co-codomal.
Background: Medically retired fitter; married; 5 children.

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Finds he can achieve jobs by doing them over a few days but saves jobs that need to be done in...

Finds he can achieve jobs by doing them over a few days but saves jobs that need to be done in...

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Well I'm getting quite an expert in pacing because I was the worlds worst at pacing. That's basically if anything, if any jobs or tasks that you're fit to do, whether it be washing a cup or papering a wall you've got to get and learn your limitations, because the harder you're working and the longer you work it brings on your tension, stress, it brings on your pain, because you've over done your limits and its knowing and learning your limits through pacing. 

For instance if you were to cut your grass at the front and then cut you're grass at the back, if you cut the grass at the front one day and cut the grass at the back the second day, which is, that's pacing yourself, you still get that done. 

But you might find if you try and cut the front and the back the same day you can't do it, so then you start getting annoyed, stress, tension, all flares up, you get annoyed with yourself and you can't do that job, but if you can learn by doing half the job or even a quarter of the job and do it over the different days, you can sit back and say well I've done that job, okay it took me two days or three days but if you try to do it in the one day, you might not get the job done and land up in bed suffering chronic pain for 2 or 3 days being miserable.  

So by pacing yourself it still gives you that wee bit of dignity that well I've done that job I didn't need anybody to do that, what's the difference if it takes you two days, three days, is not better than as doing the job and not finishing the job and then ending up in bed with chronic pain, I took a long, long while to understand that and I purposely used to come home and try it and it wasn't for me, but I did manage it and it worked.

I still have the off days that again it comes into, I tend to use the word choice a lot, its my choice, if I know what its doing to me, but there's sometimes you just, if you start something you've got to finish it, I mean if you paint a door you can't paint half a door and then go back and paint the other half because it would show, so if you've got a good day you come down and paint that door you know you're going to have your chronic pain, the levels going to go up, but then its your choice, you know. But I think you've got to learn between what you really have to do and a lot of things that you don't have to do, and you can do it over 2 or 3 days. 

 

Finds that deep breathing and relaxation reduce the stress and tension that can increase the pain.

Finds that deep breathing and relaxation reduce the stress and tension that can increase the pain.

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Well basically the breathing is the one that really works for me, you maybe take three big breaths but you put four out and that's you using your full capacity, your lungs, and that actually slows down your heart rate, so your tension, the tension eases, stress eases. 

Because if you get up tight, if you get angry, the tension, stress all goes to you so that when you get keyed up and people that suffer chronic pain when they get into that state their pain runs riot that is it at full swing. So you've got to try and cut out the tension and the stress, so if you get into your breathing it slows down your heart rate and your blood pressure so then your body is more calm and then it definitely lowers your pain level and its definitely one as I say works for me. 

If I've got the time I lie down and I listen to music, some people like listening to the tapes, sometimes they can drift away and visualise they're in Portugal or in their favourite place, and by doing that you're lowering the blood pressure, lowering the heart rate to what it probably should be, so then the tension and stress drifts away which definitely helps your pain, and I can't say it often enough but it definitely works for me. 

Once you sort of stop doing that, I mean the pain is still there but it's back to that sort of level that you can maybe call it your working pain because its there all the time, it's when you get that initial build up of this can give you tools to help you fight that, it's definitely worthwhile.

 

Attended hydrotherapy which he found very helpful because water supports your body weight and...

Attended hydrotherapy which he found very helpful because water supports your body weight and...

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Well again that all comes into movement, like gentle exercise and if you do it in the water, and if you can get a spell with the physio in the hydro baths at the hospital. Its like walking into a bath, you can have maybe 3 or 4 people in at a time. 

With physio the water is up to your shoulders, depending on your height, and you're in there and its roughly like bath temperature, you go in there in your trunks or your shorts whatever and you do your exercising in the water so that's taking a lot of your body weight, so then your movement and exercise is easier. 

You can use the water to your advantage by moving it and bringing it towards you, you can bend your back and your knees, its actually wonderful, unfortunately there is not that many so you only get a short period of time, you get about 6 lessons, its not everybody that can get in, you've really got to need to go in it. 

But again you can do a lot of that in the ordinary baths, if you can go in and out of swimming baths, you can do a lot of the exercises yourself, and it becomes quite enjoyable, because its gentle movement rather than an exercise, but its too easy to overdo it and then you come out and you're sore, so if you can get that experience on the water then you can do a lot of that for yourself because I was doing it for myself but I find it very hard to get in and out myself, I don't know how they could help you out, if I went to one in [Name of home town] again so I haven't got that far yet. But it works for you.

 

Tells how he was weaned off a lot of his medication and could reduce it even more by using...

Tells how he was weaned off a lot of his medication and could reduce it even more by using...

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Going way back I can't remember obviously the names of them but I was on about 28 different types of pills and drugs, they gave me them after my main operation at the back of the neck, it was all to do with pain and swelling, side effects, to take this pill to knock the side effects for that, and a pill for the side effects of that. 

But I was really getting, I can remember I used to get up about 8 o'clock in the morning and come down the stairs and the wife would make my coffee, take my pills, take me back to bed at 8.10, the pills just floored me, and that was me till about 11am back 11am come down till 12 take my pills again and back up, I just wasn't having any life because I was taking all these sort of pills and drugs.  

I actually got a hold of my own GP and told him that I wasn't too happy about the amount of pills, he said 'Well it was actually the surgeon that put you on it, because they had worked on your spinal column', I had to take certain drugs for it, he says, 'we are actually hoping to get you off them, but you've got to be weaned off them, you can't just stop them', so that took a period of about 6 months I think because I was shoving to come off them, I didn't have any life, the furthest I got was out the back door, that was with my family holding on to me, just to get a bit of fresh air, I just couldn't do anything with them.

So I basically took, I was cut down to eight pain killers a day, and one stomach pill because of the acid I think I had to take that because of all the pills and the drugs over the years. I slowly got that I was well even the pain killers aren't helping me too much, so I'll just take six instead of eight, and then it was still not so I will just take the four, so I've actually cut it down over the years, I'm down to two pain killers I take at night when I go to bed hoping that they will just ease me to get to sleep. 

I take my stomach pill in the morning and basically just try and get on with life now, and with going to the pain meeting, the group, my breathing helps me again so I might breath instead of taking two pills. Or instead of going into the drawer and taking another pill I listen to the tape or I phone somebody up, and that's doing me every bit of good, probably doing my body better and I think I'm getting the same result. 

I've actually tried cutting the pills out altogether, but I think I just need that two, and I don't mind that so much. There was a long spell that I would take two through the day when the spasms were coming and would end up taking maybe 4 or 6 one day, two days running, but now I just do a wee bit of breathing and forget the pills, and I'm getting through the day and through life, probably even better, because its not knocking hell out my stomach, mainly. 

I think my eating habits have all come back to where they used to be, because you weren't eating, you were only picking, I've got a bit of a social life now as well, I don't smoke now but I can have a drink with my family, I wasn't doing that for years because I was on the pills, I've got a bit of normality back in my life, and it's definitely with kicking a lot of the pills, but now I've got the wee bit of help with my tool box, with the breathing it's definitely a step in the right direction for me.

 

Became withdrawn but now realise that life moves on and you just have to make the best of it.

Became withdrawn but now realise that life moves on and you just have to make the best of it.

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Well again looking back from say 10 years ago, I basically didn't have a social life as such, I just closed myself off, I basically just did what I had to do or what I wanted to do, family functions, even some I didn't even go to I was in too much pain, 4, 5 years ago I went to 2 or 3 but I came home early, I'd say away I'm no sitting there, sitting in a corner, because you couldn't get up and dance say for instance, 'you want a drink, oh I'll get you it', you were treated as though you were even worse than what you actually were, again that wasn't for me. 

But that again changed a lot with going to the group, again the group was getting me out in a different social, that gave me a different social outlet, and I was really keen to go to these groups and participate and talk and if I can go to these groups and do this and do that then why can't I go out, and I started going out and thoroughly enjoying it.

But its an awful lot of things that you've basically got to learn and if you can get it into your head that you can have a life, you can have a social life, ok it might be slightly different from what you're used to, you might not get up and dance for 5 hours a night, does it matter? there's a lot of people can't, and you know if you start to realise it and don't feel sorry for yourself so much then you're still the same person.

Ok it might take you 10 mins to walk to the bar and come back, it doesn't matter, and if you sit down there's an awful lot of people that are the same but for different reasons, you know my Mum's 82, she can't do what she used to do, does that make her a bad person? does that mean she's to stay in the house? 

And if you start and look at life like that you get an awful lot of changes in life, even when you haven't got chronic pain, I mean you get changes in your life from when you're born till you go to the grave, and you just get on with it, so just because you've got chronic pain, yes you're going to have changes but just deal with them, don't block yourself off away.  

 

Received a settlement after an accident but feels nothing can replace his lost income.

Received a settlement after an accident but feels nothing can replace his lost income.

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How about financially, would you say that pain has affected you financially?

Oh its, well really its turned this whole family upside down, because I mean obviously I don't work now at all and my wife's had to go out and work, she's never going to be able to make the money that I was making. She has actually went out working and we were fortunate that we got a settlement, but it doesn't last forever, and I bought my house outright, because I wasn't wanting the hassle of running out of money and not paying a mortgage. 

It cost me quite a lot of money getting cars, when I passed my test, getting the right car and trying adaptations, we went for 2 or 3 holidays, I had a big family, it made life a lot easier at the particular time I got it.

Was that because of the accident?

Yes, because it wasn't my fault, but with not being able to work when you spend money you can't put it back. But now my wife works, she's actually a carer, its not the best of paid jobs, but I was fortunate in a sense that I bought my house out right and I don't have those worries, but we don't have a lot of money for incidentals now, and we will never be able to get that back and I suppose looking on that its affected us no end, there's been an awful lot of worry although it was eased for that particular time, and with actually having a big family too it made things a wee bit harder, we were never destitute. 

But now we're getting a bit older and the kids are up and that sort of money is not there we can't do a lot of the things we should be doing at our sort of age. And unfortunately my wife took a massive angina attack last November, so she's had to cut back her hours in her job, because she can't do a lot of the lifting which has been another bit of a worry, you just try and get on with it now, but I mean it has changed our lives dramatically and unless you've got a big or a nest egg, I mean it has got to. 

I mean I was the bread winner since I was married and coming to terms with that, my wife going out working, I could never really put up with that, although I basically had to, if I had been working and she'd wanted a part time job I would put up with that fine, but my wife's had to go out, it definitely changed our life in that respect. 

And now I'm trying to do as much as I can in the house, the more I do the worse pain I'm getting, if I don't do it then she's got to come in and do it, so I mean it has been a big change a big turn over, but we are getting by we are getting there. I don't what we will be like in 10 years time when I'm older.

 

Went along to a support group after hearing about it on the radio. Was relieved to discover other...

Went along to a support group after hearing about it on the radio. Was relieved to discover other...

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It was basically just by chance I was driving my car one day and I heard on the radio that there was a pain meeting at [name of home town] central that for some reason I said I think I'll just go and see what this pain meeting is all about because I'm, I didn't know what to expect on it and I didn't think it was for me you know, but again it can't be doing me any harm, it's a voluntary thing you don't need to go back. 

I came home had my tea that day and went to tell my family that I was going to this pain meeting, 'What's the pain meeting'. I said 'Well I don't know' I said 'but its people that suffer chronic pain and I said I might as well give it a try' so hence I went along, I was quite surprised there was about 22 people there, which was a big surprise to me because at that particular time I thought I was the only person in pain, I suppose its quite nice to see that other people were suffering pain and I mean that in the sort of nicest way.

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