Survey on Distraction Skills for reducing chronic persistant pain

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JP, Feb 6, 2003.

  1. JP

    JP New Member

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject of distraction as a pain control method. I am doing some research on chronic persistant pain and coping skills.

    1. What types of activites or practices do you do to distract yourself from the pain, for example, pacing, meditation, watching a comedy or anything you would consider as a distraction to reduce pain ? What is your dx?

    2. If you consider yourself spiritual, does the distraction add or subtract from this aspect of your life?

    3. What percentage of your wake time would you guess that you spend keeping yourself distracted as a pain reduction effort?

    Thank you for your contributions...Jan
  2. Achy-shaky

    Achy-shaky New Member

    Jan...Very good question!

    1) I have several distractions listed by best effective first:

    a. what I'm doing right stuff, either message boards, research, creative stuff like writing poems or tutorials, writing in journal, emails, etc. I've been a computer nut for years but didn't make the connection under resently and but needed learned to pace myself so I don't overdue it which can cause more pain.

    b. Talking with a fibro friend is both theraputic and distracting.

    c. crocheting - when the pain and concentration isn't too bad this is my favorite distraction and has always been a creative outlet.

    d. Eating!! The seratonin distraction and fix...hits me mostly at night when I can't sleep because of pain. However, I've learned that it's best to have the 30/40/30 combo of carbs/protein/fat so I try my best to stick to that.

    e. rocking chair meditation or reading - the rocking motion helps with stiffness and pain.

    f. Walking at a slow pace but it must be with a friend so we can talk to distract me from the pain of walking.

    I'm dx with FM/CFS, Chronic Myofascial Pain, Restless Leg Syndrome, spinal stenosis with disc degeneration, compressed nerves & neuropathic pain, plus other undiagnosed stuff. I guess you'd call me a "functioning fibro" mainly because I don't spend a lot of time in bed...not because I'm not tired...but I can not be still long enough to even take a nap during the day. However, if it's really bad, I will take extra drugs so I can be a zombie for a while but I hate that feeling so I need all the help I can get to distract me fromt the pain!

    2)I consider myself spiritual and it adds good distraction and gives me a more positive attitude...without it I may have thrown in the towel some time ago.

    3) I'd say since I'm not working anymore I spend 75-80% of time in distracting myself.

    I'm working on gtting better pain relief but it's long coming due to so many bad reactions and sensitivities.

    Hope that helps and let us know the results of your research.

  3. JP

    JP New Member

    this is exactly what I am looking for. Thank you for such a thoughful account. I hope this task helped distract you from your pain a bit. My research will continue for a good 6 months...this is just the start of gathering some qualitative could by my twin by your responce. I will be using pre-existing quanatative data. I have some other assorted dx and the game is the same, so to speak. I do hope you find that balance with your pain...I am searching well, Jan
  4. kredca4

    kredca4 New Member

    If it's not too bad say a 5, then I do some writting, or crafts, work on my Photograph's, got tons of them, lol.
    I even like doing Laundry, it's so soothing to me, I do at least 1-3 loads a day, and theres only 2 of us, lol.

    When the Pain gets bad above, 7 theres nothing that will distract me, in fact the Pain keeps me from Thinking.
    I take my Pain meds then and relax, Thinking on Good Memories helps then.

  5. JP

    JP New Member

    the level of pain is a good point, and it sounds like you used distraction quite a bit. I can't concentrate on writing anything more than a friendly email if my pain is moving past 5. I love doing the laundry too. I need to move a lot! Even now, it's two in the morning and I am out of bed...had a pretty good case of insonmia for a good portion of the past 5 years...too much pain to stay still and resting for too long.

    Take care,
  6. fibolady

    fibolady New Member

    a good point taken in the above replies, it really does matter what your pain level is that day or week as to what "things" you can do to distract yourself from the pain.

    a funny story, my counselor once told me to "go bake a cake for someone" when i was in a flare. i guess he was trying to make a point of doing something to distract myself from the pain, but boy, does he not get it!! when your flare is at a 9 or 10 and you have the fog, you couldn't bare to stand long enough to bake a cake, let alone find all the ingredients!!!!!!

    stretching everyday, at least 30 minutes twice a day, as quiet time and also concentrating on breathing, relaxing.

    coming to the board, reading other people's input, helps with the feeling of not being so alone, that helps with the pain!

    getting out in the sunshine at least once a day (can't wait until the sunshines again)

    with constant pain, you are using 100 percentage of your wake time trying to distract yourself from the pain, found that question amusing. guess, i need some stronger pain medicine on bad days!!

    warm regards, fibolady
    [This Message was Edited on 02/07/2003]
  7. sofy

    sofy New Member

    10 years ago when I was in excruciating pain, completely alone, and hardley able care for my basic needs I lived for months on end with no pain meds. It just never occured to me because each day I knew tomorrow I would be better. It took me 6 months to make a 18inch square mola. I didnt know how to make one but had some fabric and inprovised. It required thousands of tiny hand stitch and since there was no definate pattern there could be no mistakes. I carried it everywhere. Give me a migrain and I will swallow anything I can reach because I cant do any diversion techniques.
    Whenever anyone called and asked if I wanted to go somewhere I said yes. When they started to coddle (I couldnt walk very well) I told them I hurt no matter where I was and when out and about at least there was diversion. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Diversion absolutely works.
    My friend was dying with cancer. Her pain was unbearable to watch. Nothing worked. If you touched her bed she screamed and the terrified look on her face was horrible. That kind of pain cannot be treated with diversion, except when I went to visit she did smile and I think for a moment, just a moment, went somewhere else beside her place of pain. Thankfully mercy came and took her to a peaceful place.
  8. JP

    JP New Member

    so far I am hearing that distraction is the name of the game. I know that it is for me and has beeen for years. When my pain level is really high, I rock, sob, move, get into the shower, out of the shower, into epsom salt baths, out of the bath, and I am sure you could finish this sentence. This happens more in the morning hours for me. Now that I am on time released pain medicine, my mornings are a little better. So, Fibrolady, my doc offered me some better medicaiton...I hope you find better relief for those 9-10 episodes.

    Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time with my questions.

    take care,
  9. LisaMay

    LisaMay New Member

    1) I use my computer, I exercise or take a walk, I go to work, I garden, I cook.

    2) Not really that spiritual.

    3) 99.9 percent of my wake time and that's tiring all in its self.

    Can't wait to see the tallied results. Lisa
  10. Achy-shaky

    Achy-shaky New Member

    I've always thought I had a twin out there somewhere. Can you tell me about hte patch you are using now & how it works - maybe it would work for me too. The morning stiffness is the worst and I also spend a lot of time in the shower (it's good I don't have to pay water bill). So I guess the much of other 20% of my time is spent showering since I do many stretches it it, going to therapy and other household shores I'm able to do (yes I like folding laundry too!) but those don't seem to be as distracting. What works best for me is mental distraction but like others say if the fog rolls in, it's very hard. This is my catch-22 dilemma...yes, I can take stronger drugs so there's less pain but if I have to give up my mental cognitive abilities to do things that I love what's the point??? So I'm looking for the medication that works on the pain without putting fuzz in the brain! Any ideas?

    Thanks and let me know if you need any help putting your results together...I'd love the distraction!

    Bless everyone with a painfree day!!
    Achy-Shaky (aka JD)
  11. bluebirder

    bluebirder New Member

    I'm with you on the rocking in bed Jellybean. Makes hubby so mad...says I even rock in my sleep!

    I also stand at the kitchen counter shifting posistions and holding on to it to stretch while I watch birds out the window.

    Grab a cup of hot coffee...somehow the soothing heat relaxes me. (also keeps diverticulitis pain down as it acts as a laxitive of sorts)

    Searching stuff online. Birding or gardening forums and now this one.

    Check bluebird and other boxes in back yard for nests, eggs, babies. For a few moments when you discover the eggs have hatched you forget all about hurting/stiffness while you watch mom & dad bring food to the hatchlings.

    Working out with the Flex Plus (resistance bands) machine or scooting on my butt pulling weeds.

    No dig organic gardening. Walk daily through yard, carrying my "apple branch walking stick", looking for bugs to smash between my fingers or poking my walking stick in the ground to see how deep the mole tunnels are. Carry pruners in back pocket and do one or two snips and to something else and come back to a few more snips. Sit or lay between rows of raspberries and watch the birds coming in for seed, insects.

    Throw toy for dog. Brush dog.

    Stomp down mole runs while holding balance with "walking stick" from the apple tree.

    Check emails.

    Go through garden magazines to dream about what I would do to my yard if I could afford it or physically able.

    Forgot major dx & multiple other:
    Chronic pain
    Plantar Fasciitis
    Bad back/knee
    Irritable Colon (Diverticulosis)
    Stress incontenence/leakage[This Message was Edited on 02/07/2003]
  12. JP

    JP New Member

    It will be hard for me to acknowledge everyone's contribution during this collection. I so appreciate the generosity of your sharing and I can so relate with everyone who has responded. I will give an update to the results of my work. It may be a good six months from now however. A special thanks to those who offered additional help. I just may reach out down the road a bit. It is fun and distracting work. I have a good feeling about this research. These few questions are just a small part of a much larger piece on chronic illness.

    A heartfelt thanks to all!
  13. karen55

    karen55 New Member

    I'm a lot like Jelly, I keep myself moving. Many times I use deep breathing, and have actually used breathing similar to labor when the pain is really bad. I also try to stretch, sometimes that helps, even if it's only temporary. And, like Jelly, I rock myself in bed at night if I'm hurting. If the pain is so bad that I can't sleep even with meds, I get up because it's easier to be up moving around than lying there hurting, trying to sleep.

    I take meds for pain but sometimes they just don't cut it. I work full time so I spend a great deal of time trying to distract myself from the pain. Keeping busy makes it easier.

  14. JP

    JP New Member

    I know what you mean about work and distraction. Does your full time work make life better? Right now, I help a friend for a few hours of easy, light task type work, and I am a mess for two or three days. I have the good feeling of being able to help and a high price for helping...very mixed for me right now. I would never tell her that I am a mess because I want to help and to be asked now and then. I just need to make some kind of difference.

    Thanks for your thoughts and reply...Jan
  15. dazey

    dazey New Member

    might not sound like a distraction, but I have found it helps.

    What I do is lie down and breathe into an area that particulary bothers me.

    I then imagine that a pesky imp is there doing impy things which result in my pain; the imp wants attention, which is why it does what it does to cause me pain.

    I visualize myself "calming the imp," slowly influencing the imp to stop the pain - inducing activity.

    Sometimes I fall asleep performing this visualization, which is good too.

    It might sound crazy, but it has worked for me (except with restless leg and splitting headache).

  16. JP

    JP New Member

    Thank you both for your replies. Dazey, the visualization is a great practice and I consider it a distraction and a way to try and regain control over your pain. Sounds like you are a very visual person. I have used these skills too and I do not get very good results because lying still increases my type of pain big time. Makes sleep a real issue.

    Starcat, I have a dog that makes a big difference...she is an all-consuming type of Springer and she is a dog. I remind her that she sleeps in the garage and we sleep in the house. She gives me those big brown sad eyes. Animals are a distraction for sure. I used to have a cat and chickens too! I owned a farmhouse many years are right, chickens are pretty funny. I was frightened to go into the coup...I wasn't much of a farm girl and I loved the animals and countryside living.

    Thanks for the input. I will follow-up on my research. It may be months and I will keep this string and connect with each of you that have replied on this site. I am hoping to have my work finished in June or July this year...depends on how well I can balance and keep my cognitive skills in tune with this type of distractive work. Some days and can barely think. I don't write on those days...I spend type searching for known facts in medical journals and other types of journals on pain, physiology, sociology, psychology, Aging, and more.

    This is a very healthy and educational distraction for me. My personal purpose of this work is to learn to live well with chronic disease and FMS. For me, this includes medication, alternatives, lifestyle changes, disability right now, spirituality (not traditionally religious, however I respect individual belief systems profoundly).

    I am 42 and can recall the low-grade fevers starting about 10 years ago. I finally started getting serious about seeing doctors about 2 years ago. My pain condition has been persistent and progressive since my childhood. I always knew the worst part was my spine. I recently discovered assorted birth defects and multiple injurys and disease have been confirmed. The FMS seemed to come on pretty strong a few years back. I/docs believe the FMS is a result of my already existing chronic pain conditions. Who really knows???

    Anyway, enough from me...thank you both so much, and to all who have spent time looking at the questions and your life and providing thoughtful honest accounts of your experience.

    Happy Saturday to all,
  17. karen55

    karen55 New Member

    Jan, I guess in a crazy sort of way, working full time makes it better, in the sense that it DOES keep me busy and focused on something other than myself. I usually take my first dose of pain meds just as I get to work, or if I haven't slept much because of the pain, I will take them an hour to hour and a half before I leave for work. It's hard to find that happy medium with work though. When I'm am extremely busy, the pain is worse. When I'm not busy enough, the pain is worse. It seems like as long as I'm going at a fairly steady pace throughout the day, I'm better off.

    That is not to say that I don't have bad days even when things are steady though. There are days where no amount of distraction works, my 7, 8 and 9 days on the pain scale.
    On my off days (weekends) I try to catch up on house stuff, groceries, etc. It's almost a disruption in routine. I've learned (the hard way!) not to push myself too much on the weekends. Something I do at home is listen to music. I like almost all music and for me, music sometimes helps as a distraction. And the type of music I listen to sometimes has a lot to do with how I am feeling; sometimes if I'm having a bad pain day, rock seems to be best, it's sort of like fighting against/overcoming the pain, and other times, with the same pain level, something relaxing, like Enya, or Kenny G works best. Sounds crazy, huh?


    (BTW, I am being treated for FMS/CFS and chronic myofascial pain, sorry, forgot to include that above)
  18. nancyneptune

    nancyneptune New Member

    I do watch a lot of comedy central if I'm in pain. Laughing does distract me. Also like Karen, I have several CD's that I listen to, Enigma is the best relaxer for me. It's not serene by any means, it's very strange music, but for some reason, it really takes me away.
    I set myself up in the recliner cover with a blanket if it's cold and turn it on very loud. Then I breathe deep and let myself drift. I'm asleep before the CD is over. Total relaxation.
    It is particularly wonderful in the spring. I have all the windows open the sun shines in and I'm in heaven.
    I have FM, Scoliosis, RH, migraines,IBS, RLS, and panic disorder. I hate taking pain meds because of the fog. I don't even know my own name. Ultram is the worst for me cause it interacts with the Paxil I take and makes me really spacey.
    I'd say I spend large quantites of time on the computer too. It's what I do to keep my brain halfway sharp.
    So, about 80% of the time, I'm distracting myself.
  19. karen55

    karen55 New Member

    I have an Enigma CD also. You're right, it's strange music, but it is relaxing.
  20. JP

    JP New Member

    I am really enjoying learning more about each of you and about all of the distraction techniques that people use to help with pain control. I use music as well and I had never used it in the way each of you describe. It makes perfect reason with managing pain. I used to be a I am not inspired to play my instruments, write music or sing much anymore...very sad for me when I think about it.

    Karen, I am with you in that work makes life better in many ways. The career I left 14 months ago was just too much for me and in my mind, it was not enough. That was a strange place to be. Anyway, at the time, I had 60 employees working 3 shifts and weekends too. My insomnia was so bad that I could not afford ANY late night calls. This team of employees was fairly new to me and I walked into a fairly dependent department. So, I got late night calls, weekend calls and on and on. I did not go out on disability at that time...I could not even face that I was losing so much of my functioning, day by day. So, I can completely relate to work as a part of your pain management in a way. I need to move around and stay as busy as my body will allow...I overdo too much and am slammed for a few days because I overdo. I believe that we all seek balance in the best way we can.

    Thank you both again...Jan