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Pain Connection welcomes articles, poems and drawings from members and families to provide an insight into their lives.


by Kent Mason

When I was in severe pain and had difficulty eating and sleeping much less doing any exercising, and was spending 18+ hours a day in bed, I became depressed. To work my way back or put more appropriately, to move forward toward improved health, I developed these affirmation cards that I reviewed many times a day as a method to refocus my thoughts(cognitive conditioning in effect) and gain more control over my life. They helped, maybe this approach could help others. Please share them through your newsletter if you believe it would be useful.


I control how I approach, interpret and manage all problems and adversity. It's a choice. I am an optimistic resourceful, problem solver and manager of adversity. I challenge and commit myself to accurately identify and accept any limitations and make the most of each situation and day. Adversity is not personal or permanent, everything changes.


I view a difficult situation/event as an opportunity to practice the skills I'm learning: Focus on the positive(optimistic); challenge any negative thought; reaffirm my strengths; enhance confidence in self to deal with the hills and valley of life.


I am learning to treat myself as I treat a beloved friend - with kindness and consideration, with tolerance of flaws and with appreciation of assets.


Circumstances are what they are, but I can choose my attitude/perception toward them. I accept the natural ups and downs of life..and my back.


My greatest success is: The process of living joyfully. The process of putting my unique talents into service.

(Kent has been an active member and mentor of Pain Connection since 1999!)


One day, towards the end of 2001, I sneezed and felt shocks go down my arms and my legs. I was in perfect health at that time, a little overweight, but for a man of 53, I was in pretty good shape. I went to an orthopedic surgeon and he said I needed an MRI. The MRI showed that I had a tumor inside of my spinal cord. I was then sent to a neurosurgeon at Hopkins. He removed the tumor. After the surgery, on my right side I have retained about 10% of my feeling, from the middle of my chest on down to my feet, I have areas with no feeling and some areas with only minimal sensation. On my left side I have retained about 30% of my feeling. I could feel temperature, but I couldn't feel touch. Within about a month and a half or so of the surgery, I began feeling these pings or pangs of pain. First, they were just in my chest area. Then, they spread to my back. The neurosurgeon said that I had nerve-ending pain, and put me on Neurontin a non-addictive drug often prescribed for nerve pain.

Opioids are often prescribed for others with this pain condition. I, on the other hand, am a recovering alcoholic. Narcotics are not an option I saw as being available to me in this condition. Instead I decided to take a more holistic approach to my pain, including acupuncture, Reiki, massage, yoga (as best I could), but still the pain persisted and was beginning to become severe. My days started to revolve around my power recliner in essence on my back, away from others. I started to isolate myself from others. My life, my self esteem, my zest for life was leaving me and I was starting to feel like a victim. These were dangerous signs for a recovering alcoholic. I spoke with my AA sponsor about how I was feeling about life. In fact I stated that I was feeling as helpless about the pain and how it was dictating my life as I was helpless about drinking! He said why don't we take the 12 Steps of AA and see if we can use them for your chronic pain. Thousands of people with other life conditions from eating, to narcotics, to sex, to you name it have taken these wonderful steps of AA and use them to work through their life condition, why couldn't I?

Some time later I was able to meet another person in AA who like me had seen the possibilities of using these 12 principals in his own life to deal with his pain and Barry R and I met for coffee and had our first Chronic Pain Anonymous meeting in Towson, MD in June of 2004. Using these steps and starting the fellowship of CPA has been a lifesaver for us and those in our meetings. It seems like only another person with chronic pain (PWCP) fully understands how another PWCP feels. This fellowship has become a lifeline for me and for others. If you would like to learn about a meeting in your area, please go to our website: or email me at

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