Food Serves as a Buffer from Chronic Pain Hell

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

August 23rd, 2008 • Nutrition for Natural Pain ReliefPrint Print

Looking back on our childhood can be an illuminating experience: As children, we may have had the intuitive understanding that something was way off, but we didn’t have the life experience or verbal skills to be able to articulate exactly what was going on or why. As adults, however, we can make sense of things.

I have a similar experience looking back on the decade I spun in a maze of chronic pain hell. At the time, I didn’t understand the monster I was up against. I trusted that insurance companies were there to protect me, that doctors were there to help me heal, that the whole system gave a damn about my well-being.

I know better now. I know that patient lives are sacrificed in the name of profit. I know that doctor integrity is sacrificed in the name of reputation. I know that my trust was betrayed almost every step of the way, that it was never deserved in the first place.

This evening, I read the book When Food Is Love, by Geneen Roth. Roth suggested that being out of control around food is something along the lines of smoke & mirrors, a mask covering our true lack of control — over love, for example.

I resonated so deeply with what Roth was saying, that I put the book down and had a good cry. When my life spun out of control in chronic pain hell, I turned to food — for comfort, for entertainment, for physical activity that didn’t hurt. Over the years, I gained 45 pounds.

Between 2004-2005, I lost 25 of those pounds. During that last year, a chiropractor’s negligence left me with multiple injuries in my neck, shoulders, and right ankle. As an upshot, I was bedridden for much of two months, during which time the simple act of pulling a sheet towards my face caused excruciating pain.

I had just discovered dance as a healing modality, and I used this period to explore it further. So despite my general immobility and resulting boredom and dependence on others, I remained in good spirits and maintained my weight.

What’s more, I made great strides in healing my shoulder, and I was able not only to heal my right ankle, but my left as well — which had been injured a couple of years earlier. No bodyworkers I had worked with previously had been able to heal that injury. I was feeling quite triumphant.

But suddenly, months later, I had the sensation of walking on glass shards, every time I took a step on my right foot. When I went to a podiatrist to see what was going on, he was so busy laughing at my story of injury (a common occurrence that I will address in a later post) that he didn’t pay adequate attention to what I was saying.

He was then careless in handling my foot and, as a result, he reactivated my ankle injury. It was challenging even to drive away from the appointment, because my ankle was in such pain again. The cocktail of sensations — pain, anger, frustration, and powerlessness — threw me back into the arms of food, and I gained 15 pounds in just a couple of months.

After joining a spiritual program for people with eating disorders last year, I quickly lost 13 of those pounds. Then six months ago, when I went in for a wart removal, a doctor thought it would be fun to pour the whole container of liquid nitrogen onto the examining table. In doing so, he splashed a particle in my eye – which caused a chain reaction of problems, including debilitating headaches and constant eye pain.

Snap! I gained 25 pounds.

Roth is right. It’s easier to rummage through the refrigerator than it is to face the horror of a health care system that is criminal. It’s easier to eat a piece of cake than it is to deal with how — despite my education, assertiveness, and determination to heal — I have been injured over and over again, ultimately rendered powerless over my own body and life.

In fact, just by writing this all down, I can hear the chocolate chip cookies calling out to me from the freezer.


Aviva August 24th, 2008


Boy do I wish I could say I didn’t identify SO much with this post. But I do.

I think I gained something like 80 pounds while out of my mind with pain from a shoulder injury in 1995 that required two surgeries and left me permanently partially disabled (even the state of Washington declared me so).

I lost all that weight and more in 2000-01 when I developed chronic stomach ulcers caused by all the anti-inflammatories I took to keep my shoulder partially functional.

I think that was the only time I lost weight while in major pain, but that was mostly because I threw up at least half a dozen times day for over a year.

Then I hurt my back in a car accident in 2006 and had to quit the gym because the pain was so bad (and still is). I gained 20 pounds in the first year, then got sick with my Mystery Illness that they now think might be lupus in June 2007 and I’ve gained another 30 since I’m mostly housebound, exhausted and in pain.


I’m still 15 whole pounds below my top weight ever when my stomach ulcers started in 2000, but jeez, I never expected to reach this mass again.

I have managed to (temporarily?) stop the weight gaining and have “maintained” for a couple months now, but still. I’m huge and fat, and that does nothing for my self esteem. :(

Anyway, I’m rambling. But I truly appreciate this post and feel like you could be writing about me in it.

Weight Loss Blog December 15th, 2008

Hey, hope this comment works I’m still somewhat new to this whole blogging thing.
nice post! I found your blog while
Googling other people’s weight loss stories. I’ve actually just started blogging about
my weight loss success story – I lost over 30 pounds in a month
with a diet I developed!

I would love it if you could stop by my weight loss blogand let me know what you think.
Warmest wishes,

David from Canada August 3rd, 2009

Yeh – hurt 25 years ago, and weight has bounced up and down, from 70 lbs over-weight to almost ideal and back up and down again. Chronic pain through out, has robbed me of some things, but I am working to have them all back again. Thank you for your blog and site, I just got here last week.

Curious – Alternative therapies? Are the details here on you site or something you have figured out, over the years of listening to your body? Cheers – David

natural August 25th, 2009

Still cant believe they did this.

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