Good Night's Sleep
By Geoffrey and Mary Lou Manifold
Sleep and chronic pain do not mix. As I wander around the house at night trying not to wake my slumbering family, I watch the clock. Tic, Tic, Tic, I watch the clock some more, this night is going really slowly. I turn on the TV, not too loud. I don't want to wake anyone. As I proceed through my nightly rituals I wonder what it would be like to get a good nights sleep again. I remember the time before the accident, before the operation, before my body decided to rebel and deprive me of night time slumber. I wander my halls counting the hours till at last, the sun finally rises.. The reason is pain. The kind of pain that shatters our sleep patterns.The kind of pain that sleeping pills can not obliterate. The kind of pain we can not describe to anyone who has not experienced chronic pain. Sound familiar? Trust me. You're not the only one mindlessly staring at Leno, Letterman, Conan or for a change, Mash, Entertainment Tonight or most frightening of all, the Blind Date shows, which are so alarming, they actually make me feel better! These are the times I really wish my wife would let me get cable. Of course, there is always the news. At least I know when I finally do catch a few zzzzs I will not have to worry about missing any news. The question is, what to do? How do we get the sleep we need? I asked one of my many doctors and he said, "Take a sleeping pill, and if that doesn't work, take two." It didn't work. "Well then", he said," Go on this anti-depressant. This one can help with sleep disorders". I mentioned that that sounded like an awful lot of medicine. "Your sleep is critical to getting better. Sleepless nights can compound your pain levels." I could have told him that. That night, armed with my new prescriptions, I followed the doctors orders. I took my pills. My eyes started to close after an hour or so. So far, so good. I'm asleep. Two hours later I am no longer asleep. I am awake. Well kind of awake. My body aches. My shoulders ache. My mind feels like a toxic fog of mixed medications. I am exhausted. One small problem. I can not get back to sleep. The pain just keeps on coming. Oh-oh, what was that noise? There are lots of noises at night. It's coming from the extra bedroom. I grab my cane. It's a really thick cane. One that would knock a burglar senseless. Slowly, I tiptoe down the hall. The noise is getting louder and my heart is pounding harder. I peak into the room. There, in the middle of the bed is my cat snoring away, louder than such a tiny animal could possibly snore. It's so unfair! Why does she get to sleep if I can't. So I wake her up. " Pesto ! " I yell,"You're snoring"! She opens an eye and stretches, but I think I just woke everyone else up in the house. Quiet seconds go by I hear my heart pounding I hear people rolling over in their selfish sleep. I look over to the cat for a sign, a wiggle of an ear, a twitch of the tail. Something to confirm that I yelled as loud as I thought I did. But no. Pesto's already back to sleep, Rubbing it in. So next time your chronic pain has you awake half the night, think of me. You're not alone.
To the students of The Ivymount School in Rockville, Maryland, who participated in the special vocational training program that Mr. Sterling Forrest supervised and coordinated. They volunteered many appreciated hours in mailing our last newsletter and flyers.
Churchill High School volunteer Kendall Bourke has been working during the summer in preparing flyers, updating our mailing lists, helping with the newsletter and making phone contacts to our members.
THE PAIN OF PAINThe Pain of Pain, Persistent and Chronic, was written by Richard M. Cohen, and appeared in the New York Times on June 10, 2003. The author has multiple sclerosis and describes his pain as "upper back jolts in cervical disks, joint pain and endless muscle knots and spasms." He refers to his disease as an assailant that will not back off, but "prods and nags and insists on reminding a suffering soul that he is being shadowed." The medical community does not provide many answers and he received different diagnoses from his neurologist, orthopedists and physical therapist. "It is discomforting to acknowledge, even to myself, how much my waking mind is filled by the limitations of illness kept on the front burner by the physical hurt. The challenge for anyone with lingering, chronic problems is the need to resist allowing the condition to take over and define a life," Cohen states. The pain is a constant reminder to his body, thus tasks becomes more difficult with each year. "Pain magnifies difficulties, resurrecting and re-enforcing pessimism. cumulative pain dims the spirit, a bit at a time." Mr. Cohen describes that as he looks at himself in the mirror he sees the sickness staring back at him. This pain can breed anger, but he realizes there is too much of that in his life and instead offers a solution. He suggests thinking about what is right in one's life and imagining a better day to work to a point and to find an element of wisdom hidden in them. He leaves you with this final thought, "I sit at a teacher conference or during dinner with friends, and I smile. Why shouldn't I? These are good times. Perspective, please. I have lost friends to painful cancers. I am not going anywhere."
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There are fifty million Americans suffering from chronic pain who are not receiving the treatment they need. Many fall between the cracks in their own private health insurance, workman’s compensation, and disability benefits. Others are helpless because of a lack of insurance.
Pain Connection is a 501(c)(3) not for profit human service agency that provides a monthly support group, information and referrals, community outreach and education. Pain Connection plans to establish an outreach center which will provide counseling, support groups and seminars, 24 hour hotline, information and referrals, library with Internet access, training program, newsletter, case management, advocacy, and transportation for people suffering from chronic pain. These services will improve the quality of life, offer a chance for rehabilitation, decrease the sense of isolation this population experiences and enable the chronic pain sufferer to take control of his/her condition and treatment and maintain independence.