November 18, 2020

My Life With Chronic Pain

There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there about dealing with chronic pain. You may have even read it. 

Strangers on the street might see my prosthetic leg, my wheelchair or some of my scars and other amputations. But it’s the invisible disabilities, like chronic pain, that have a far greater impact on my life than a missing limb or mobility aid ever will.

I have different types of chronic pain that get better or worse depending on something as simple as the weather or what I’ve eaten.

For example, I know that the arthritis throughout my body will get worse when it’s very cold, if I don’t move regularly or when I eat or drink certain things.

It’s taken me many years of trial and error to work that out for myself and something I encourage other sufferers of chronic pain to do – My hope is that it won’t take you that long!

Remember, you’re not a failure.

The saying goes that, ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’. In dealing with my chronic pain I’ve also found that one person’s cure is another person’s kryptonite.

If I could offer only one piece of advice to chronic pain sufferers it would be to not feel like a failure when something doesn’t work.

As children we’re raised to believe that failure is a bad thing. A message only reinforced as adults.

The truth is, failure isn’t always a bad thing. Particularly in relation to chronic pain.

I’ve suffered with chronic pain since the age of 24 when I unexpectedly had a brain haemorrhage.

I didn’t realise it at the time but the constant pain in my remaining foot (the one that wasn’t amputated) was peripheral neuropathy.

It took years of searching for answers and solutions. Both with specialists at the hospital and more alternative practitioners.

Acupuncture, massage, lotions and potions, prescription medication and even a course of Ketamine infusions… Nothing took away the pain.

Aside from the financial costs, my mental health suffered as well. I felt like a constant failure because I couldn’t ‘fix’ my chronic pain with one of the many things I had tried.

But everything changed for me when my mindset changed.

After I finally had a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, I started to practice both distraction therapy and acceptance therapy.

Distraction therapy is basically keeping myself busy so I can’t think about the pain. Writing, listening to podcasts, going to the gym in my wheelchair and more are all things I do so I’m not focusing on the pain. 

Acceptance therapy (with a professional) has also been useful for dealing with my PTSD and health anxiety. 

The day I got off Google, stopped searching desperately for answers and cures and just found ways to live in some sort of harmony with my pain (including specialist intervention) was the day my whole world changed and my pain got so much easier to manage.

Sure, I still have flare-ups and know what sorts of foods make it worse but THINKING about my pain differently was a game-changer for me. 

This approach won’t work for everyone but I’m writing this in the hope it will help others stop the frustration of not being able to ‘cure’ their chronic pain. 

Written by: Lisa Cox
Lisa is an award-winning writer, author, motivational speaker, consultant, wife, model and activist who, for over a decade, has been passionately creating visibility for disability and has amassed a loyal following of nearly 100K across different social platforms. She has written for national and international publications like HuffPost, Harper’s Bazaar and Sydney Morning Herald and has featured on multiple podcasts. Lisa is a valuable source for busy journalists, producers and others in your media team. With a strong professional background in media, Lisa understands the news cycle, has an appreciation for how your story is put together and knows about the constraints of deadlines. Lisa is also the Disability Affairs Officer at Media Diversity Australia and her ability to relate to and connect with both a disabled and non-disabled audience makes her an ideal source. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Lisa is available at short notice for comment or can travel to you.

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