Monday, January 12, 2015

Lean In and Show You Care - for caregivers especially

Sheryl Sandberg, of Facebook fame, wrote a recent best-selling book called Lean In. An important message in this book is her recommendation that people lean in to the challenges that face them, rather than avoiding and running away from them. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated that this approach has worked for her, in spades.

This idea of leaning in can be especially useful for spouses and family members as they try to understand the nature of long-term pain. When someone in pain his trying to explain how they feel, it is important to pay attention, to lean in toward them, and to try to learn and understand what they are trying to say. It is not easy, for the person trying to explain how they feel, nor for the people trying to listen and understand. It is necessary, however, to lean in. Even if you do not understand all of the details, leaning in will show that you are at least trying, that you care.

Sometimes, the best way to lean in is to just stay silent, listen and pay attention. Caregivers often feel that this is inadequate and does not accomplish very much. It is also very hard to sit there feeling helpless. You want to jump up and do something. Rather than jumping up and leaving the scene, a better option is to calmly and compassionately ask if there's anything that you can do to help.

In my 25 years of working every day with people in pain, I have found that listening, learning and leaning in can be a very powerful healing tool. It is more practical and useful than you think.

Go ahead. If it a try. Lean in and watch the magic happen.

Yours with care - Michael.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Gift from The Pink Lady

Happy New Year. I hope this new year can bring little less pain and a lot more life to all of you.

One of my patients received a very nice surprise a few weeks ago. This was a gift from the Pink Lady.

This lovely person had been suffering from multiple injuries, widespread pain, and very high levels of stress for many years. Her stress levels had become even more extreme in the past few months, and with that had come a severe aggravation of her stomach pain.

Her stomach pain had not been her primary injury, or even her primary source of pain, until the past few years. I believe her stomach pain developed as a consequence of years of severe pain, pain medications and widespread losses and stresses in her life.

Occasionally, her pain levels become so severe that she needs to go for additional medical help. A few weeks ago it was necessary for her to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night because her stomach pain was so unbearable.

In previous visits to doctors, specialists and emergency rooms, she has not found any real help, although for the most part doctors do seem to understand the severity of her pain.

This time was different. An emergency room doctor gave her a medicine that she called the Pink Lady. My patient was told to drink this pink liquid and try not to have any of the liquid linger in her mouth. This medication, or combination of medications, seem to work quite quickly. For the first time in many years, my patient had some relief. This relief only lasted a couple of days, but this was enough to provide significant help. Over the next few weeks, my patients suffered from her regular stomach pain, but the extreme unbearable stomach pain did not return. This was truly a gift for her.

I think this Pink Lady can involve different mixtures. Below is a link to a brief description of the medicines that may be included.

Happy new year and stay tuned for more frequent posts this year.

Yours with care - Michael