The Pain Companion for Chronic Pain: Recovery Insights
Sarah Anne Shockley is the author of The Pain Companion. In the Fall of 2007, she contracted Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), which is a collapse of the area between the clavicles and first ribs and has lived with debilitating nerve pain ever since.
Why She Wrote The Pain Companion
“As you probably already know, being injured or ill to the point of debilitation is an incredibly intense experience. Besides feeling a certain level of shock from the trauma of having your whole world turned upside down, there are a multitude of other emotional and psychological reactions that arise. These include loneliness, confusion, loss, frustration, depression, and hopelessness.
Also, a person undergoes an incredible amount of stress when unable to function adequately in their world. There are financial worries about how to pay for the necessities of life if you can no longer work. There are worries about how to physically cope with the everyday tasks most of us used to take for granted, such as being able to care for children and family, cook, clean, shop, drive, take out the garbage, and even handle personal hygiene.
Any or all of these activities may have become physically impossible or extraordinarily laborious and painful. Also, being in constant pain is utterly exhausting, and there are minimal mental, emotional, or physical resources left over to participate in life anything like a reasonable person. Social interactions may become few and far between. With all this going on, it can become a huge struggle to get up in the morning and carry on.”
“In the midst of all this, I was hoping to find some help somewhere for these multiple challenges. What I discovered was that most of the books on pain address physical approaches to pain management, and most are written by practitioners. While they are undoubtedly valuable for many, my condition does not do well with physical exercises, so they weren’t useful to me, and I was seeking a certain level of solace and understanding.
I wanted to hear from someone like me. I wanted to hear from someone who understood the daily challenges of actually living in pain, with pain, and having all of your experiences stem from or are colored by pain.”
“Since there was little available to me regarding treatments, either because I couldn’t afford them or because they didn’t exist, I was pretty much left to my own devices. I found that continually trying to battle with pain – get rid of it, avoid it, not feel it, or push it away – was more exhausting and frustrating than it was productive. What I needed was a healing modality which included pain as part of my healing journey as an integral part of the process rather than putting so much energy into eradicating it.
Over time, I created my meditative exercises to understand the role of continued pain in my body and eventually began working with pain as an ally in healing. I found ways to live with pain and not sink into a mire of depression or self-pity. With these approaches, the acute level of pain I was in began to shift. Eventually, I decided that writing about it would not only clarify this approach for my use; it would be helpful for others who live with chronic pain. Out of these experiences came The Pain Companion.”
She has been a regular columnist for Pain News Network and is a regular contributor to The Mighty, a 1.5 million–member online community for those living with chronic illness and pain. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you can visit her online at http://www.ThePainCompanion.com.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is often missed and often quite easily corrected with structural attention to this boney interface as well as remedying often-associated underlying sacral base unleveling. In this interview, we discuss this syndrome in more detail.
A native of Connecticut, Sarah Anne Shockley is a multiple award-winning producer and director of educational films, including Dancing From the Inside Out, a highly acclaimed documentary on disabled dance.
She holds an MBA in International Marketing and has worked in high-tech management, as a corporate trainer, and teaching undergraduate and graduate business administration.
Book and Additional References
- Website: The Pain Companion
- Producer: Film – DVD, Dancing From the Inside Out profiles the stories of three dancers from the internationally acclaimed AXIS Dance Company who use wheelchairs for mobility. Interwoven with scenes from daily life, dance rehearsals and live performances, Judy, Uli, and Bonnie talk about the challenges they faced when they became disabled. They describe how dance changed their lives, enabling them to experience new relationships with movement and self-expression. Exuberant and life-affirming, this multiple award-winning documentary provides positive role models for people with disabilities and invites all viewers to enjoy and appreciate the beauty and grace inherent in the creative collaboration between dancers of differing mobilities.
- Book: The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living with and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain, – Shockley, 2018 – Global Amazon Link
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Thanks, Sarah, for joining us here at CBJ to review these insightful observations regarding the clinical and personal applications for recovery from chronic pain.
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