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Learning About Pain

January 11, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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Most of us probably think we get more pain as we age. I feel we get stiffer, but I am not convinced we have more pain necessarily. Living in this nursing home for so long has allowed me time to study myself in different pain situations. Since I am not able to move very much on my own, I have learned to deal with a certain amount of discomfort. I can still feel everything so I know when I am hurting. But I am good at ignoring it when I have something to do.

My eye-opening pain tale occurred during the first two years I was here. One morning I had a headache. Before breakfast I thought it was a hunger headache but afterwards I decided I needed something for it. I put my call light on and asked the aide if she would have the nurse bring two acetaminophen. Then I went back to working on the computer. Two hours later the headache was gone. I was glad that the acetaminophen did the trick. Then a few minutes later I remembered I had not taken any medicine. For whatever reason, the nurse had not brought them. She gave me a surprised look on her next round when I laughed about how well the pills she did not give me helped. That is when I learned that pain is a control issue. I sought a solution for a headache, trusted that medicine would arrive soon, and the pain went away. I also use prayer, meditation, or positive thinking to relax.

I have noticed that many new residents are very anxious about their medicine. Many were probably comfortable with their medication routine at home. When they come here, they are no longer in charge of their medicines and their routine changes. Most get upset when meds are late or when other residents with greater needs take precedence over them. Then the resident's anxiety can escalate beyond their ability to cope. We are all taught patience but practicing it in a nursing home environment is difficult.

I think diversion and activity are very important to each resident regardless of their level of function. When I go out for a day, I seldom have a headache. I also feel better and more upbeat when I have a visitor. My parents taught me that doing something, no matter how I felt, usually resulted in me feeling better. That philosophy serves me well.

A friend recently suggested that I should write about cabin fever. Winter is difficult for my friends with fibromyalgia. One takes medication and still says life is painful. Another has a hot tub and uses it religiously. I think a hot tub would be great anytime, but most especially so if you have chronic pain. If we use the law of physics, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." We can find a way to deal with pain, anxiety, and restlessness.

We need to get away from what we are doing and do something different. In the throes of an Ohio January that can be difficult. A recent e-mail on Ohio's winter's put it so correctly. One day it is 60, the next 40, and the next 10. We never know quite what to expect.


Kathleen Mears



Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...



wow thats just about true we all tolerate pain in some way or another, and we learn our own ways to deal with it.
when I'm sick my mom makes me feel wounder full not matter how bad i feel.
She makes me forget about my sickness or pain
by smothering me with lots of love
and warm chicken soup hot chocolate and home made bread.
but sometimes it helps me to tell how i feel or else I'd have to suffer with my pain.
And i know as soon as i tell my mother my pain will imeadiatley get better.
yes sympathy is great when not feeling well.

thanks Kathy

Hello Kathy , great blog
I as well do believe that we all deal with pain in our every day lives.
And we have a pain tolerance that we can also cope with.
I had a really bad back injury in 2000. I could not walk for 2 weeks i had to do therapy and repair my back muscles and tendons as well as strains and bruises and pinched nerves.
I had a lot of terrible pain involved with this injury.
But i knew I had to get back to walking and working.
So i struggled through my pain.
a few years latter of therapies I could walk just as good as before.
I believe company helps as well as love and friend ships to help get over our sicknesses or pains, sometimes as much as medicines.
Kathy you deal great with your pains in my opinion . And you keep yourself so active and mind constantly working, and learning. But you also help others out sometimes with their pains and you don't even know it.
Me and my son enjoy reading your blogs
thank you kathy