As an interventional pain specialist, I tell patients every day how crucial it is to keep a positive attitude, find things that bring joy, and maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible. I know it’s difficult to find the inner strength to stay motivated and remain positive in the face of adversity, so I remind patients of the success stories of people who achieved their dreams despite chronic pain.
Take Emery Miller, who was born with a hole in his heart. He is just a young man but already has undergone five heart surgeries. Throughout his childhood, as well as during his recovery from surgery as a young adult, Emery endured overwhelming levels of pain. With pain management techniques and a positive attitude, however, Emery continues to do activities he loves. He is at the top of his game on the baseball field, for example — despite the fact that doctors said he never would be able to play.
It’s not only the pain medication and surgeries that typically bring down pain patients. It’s also the accompanying feelings of guilt, anxiety, and grief over having lost the life they once knew.
Doing things you love is a great way to keep your mind focused on the positive – in turn keeping you feeling motivated and strong. Spending time with loved ones, taking the dog for a walk on a beautiful day, playing catch with children, painting, and dancing are examples of activities that can reduce stress, increase serotonin, and literally decrease pain.
If pain makes it difficult for you to do activities that once brought you joy, look for alternatives. For example, if a Zumba class is too much for you, try water aerobics. If running is out of the question, try swimming. Even if the activities are lower impact, they still can help reduce your stress and lower your pain.
Every day we are inspired by the perseverance, strength, and incredible willpower of our patients at the Pain Center of Arizona. May you be similarly blessed to keep on keeping on – never letting pain stop you from living your best possible life.