"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly..."
Many of my patients are struggling with illnesses that are not terminal but cause severe chronic pain. Now seeing a therapist for a chronic pain issues does NOT mean that you are not in pain or “it’s all in your head”! What has been found is that allowing yourself to see a therapist once every week or two helps with physical pain by giving you an outlet to talk.
Many of my patients report that their family members don’t understand their “bad days” and tend to think that they are faking it or trying to get attention. This is far from true, but often we all need someone to listen that will believe us and not get bored about hearing about our struggles.
You may have picked up that I said “we” as opposed to “you.” Well the reason I specialize in Chronic Pain is because for 20 years I have had Systemic Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I myself deal with chronic pain, huge medical bills, and I spent the first 10 years of my diseases in and out of hospitals for joint replacements, strokes, blood clots and a variety of other “really fun” issues. So when I say I get it, I really get it. That is why many of my patient’s find seeing me helpful. Because I’ve tried it all, and I know what works, I understand what it feels like when your friends are bored with the fact that you can’t commit to a luncheon until the day of, because you won’t know if you will feel well that day. I’ve been yelled at in parking lots on bad days for needing my handicap placard because I wasn’t “in a wheelchair.” And I’ve learned ways to work with my physicians so I can be honest about my pain, and not get the “look” like I’m crazy or drug seeking.
Now how does therapy fit into this? I wish that when I was in the worst stages of my SLE and RA (before they came up with amazing biologics to stop the progression of the disease) I had gone to a therapist.But at that time there was no one in the areas I was living that specialized in Health Psychology or Chronic Pain. So, I spent a lot of time seeking out support groups online for days when I couldn’t make it to a group at night because I was too tired to drive.
I find that having a safe place to discuss your pain, your struggles, the frustration of your body doing things you didn’t sign up for is extremely helpful. Especially with someone that has walked in your Birkenstocks (or sneakers!). I can help you not only with talk therapy but with Hypnosis for pain, anxiety, and using a technique called Mindfulness (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-anderson-cooper-60-minutes/ or read my blog http://www.drkahoving.com/mindfulness-stress-management/). Another term for it is meditation. Now this doesn’t mean that I’ll have you chanting or making a major religion change! If you watch the 60 minutes videos you will see how much science is involved in meditation/mindfulness. The major changes in your brain are similar to what happens when you take an antidepressant- but there are no side effects!
Regardless if you want to utilize meditation, talking makes a huge difference in dealing with your pain. And on the bad days when you can’t make it to the office we can meet online. My pain patients love this option. We can meet in the evening or weekend if that works best, or when your family is out, and we do an hour session-you can lay down on a heating pad, take your medication and not worry about driving. I have utilized online therapy for over 5 years and have found that it is equally effective as coming in. Granted there are a few things that we can’t do (mostly art therapy, and Sand Tray work) but on your good days, you can pop in when we want to do those.
I understand your pain. And I find that my patient’s get more support from their Physicians when they tell them they are seeing me. It tells them that you are willing to do other things than come in and use them for emotional support. And face it, they don’t have the time or training. They may be wonderful people, great physicians but they are busy and have lots of patients and little time. I can help you learn how to organize your time for physician visits, teach you how to express yourself in an organized way, and help you to NOT minimize your pain so you walk out a copay out of your pocket without being honest about how much pain you are really in.
I know that money is a concern when all of your capital is going to insurance, doctor’s visits and medications. But I can offer a sliding scale that will work with almost any budget for my chronically ill patients that meet a financial criteria. I’ll work with you. Give it a few sessions and see if you don’t feel better!
Dr Karen Hoving