April 26, 2021

Meet Mariana: Learning to cope with chronic pain

By Manage My Pain User, Mariana
Positively managing chronic pain
Mariana still has taken positive steps to care for herself so she can overcome her chronic pain
Mariana uses the Manage My Pain app to help her understand her chronic pain. After doing a simple everyday chore, she hurt her back which has left her with lasting chronic pain. However, her positive approach to self-love has helped her overcome some of the challenges of chronic pain.

We interviewed Mariana below.

Tell us about yourself
I am a Software Developer focused on Front End development. While developing new products, I always like to think about all the people that are going to utilize my work and have used my work in the past. However, for years I would spend too much time thinking about other people and was negligent about my own well-being. I was sedentary, overweight, and I never thought about how my laziness would affect my health. Recently, I have learned how self-love is powerful to change lives, and nowadays I am in love with myself!

When did you first start experiencing pain?
In 2018, I was alone at home and put my clothes in my washing machine. When the washing cycle finished, I transferred all the clothes to a bucket, as I usually do. Although the bucket was a bit heavier than usual, everything appeared to be normal. However, at the exact moment when I lifted the bucket, my pain started immediately, and I heard a sound like a "crack". I did not think much of it at the moment as everything seemed normal, but I had herniated two of my lumbar discs. Ever since that accident, I have had chronic pain and been taking steps to treat the injury.

How did your pain evolve?
After the accident, one of the discs has never stopped moving toward the nerve, and because of that, my chronic pain has lingered. The level of the pain increased, and I started feeling different sensations like numbness, tingling, needling, stabbing, etc. It made it difficult to even walk a few blocks. As the pain got worse, I started having sleeping problems. Overall, my anxiety has also increased and I am always afraid about when the next crisis is going to start to consequently disrupt my routine.

What challenges have you experienced getting the care you needed?
I face challenges every day with doctors and even with my friends. The government program for covering accidents does not cover treatments for chronic pain in my case, so I must pay for it out of pocket. Some doctors do not believe I am serious about my chronic pain or my mental state. One day, I went to an appointment to ask a general practitioner for more medication to manage the pain, but the doctor gave me 700 pills, which was much far more than required. I felt so humiliated in that situation!

On the other side, my friends and work colleagues think they need to constantly ask about my injury to show some kindness or to start a conversation. I am more than my injury, so, ask me about the weather, not about my chronic pain! However, I think my main challenge is to conciliate my professional life, my travels, and my housework with my chronic pain. I cannot count anymore how many days I felt guilt for missing an important meeting or for not going outside on a Summer day.
You cannot change the pain, but you can take steps to make changes to cope better with your pain.
How did you find Manage My Pain and has it helped?
MMP helped me to notice that my days are different. When you are feeling pain, it is hard to notice the small improvements compared to the day before, because you just think - I am feeling so much pain today!

By measuring my pain with MMP, I started seeing that my levels of pain are different, and they can be affected by my actions. With the data provided by MMP Charts, I could prove to my doctors that my level of activity is indirectly proportional to the level of my pain. It also keeps me informed about how many days I was absent at work in a month compared to another. Finally, I use MMP to track how the symptoms changed over a period.

What have you tried to manage your pain?
I have used so many different medications for my pain and have not found an ideal medication for me yet. However, I try to keep up the positive attitude given the circumstances with interventions beyond medication. I practice meditation every day and I try to be as active as I can. I avoid sitting down for long stretches of time and make sure to walk at least 5 days a week. I also carefully monitor my sleeping cycle and my food intake. Finally, I go to the gym three times a week but make sure to skip any dangerous actions involving heavy objects or hard workouts at the gym that may negatively impact my chronic pain.

Any inspirational tips to help others who might be looking for help as well?
In my journey with chronic pain, I have learned that nobody will cope with my pain if I do not cope with my pain myself. I needed to take the necessary steps to learn how to care for myself to give myself an opportunity to have better days in my life. I noticed that I was sedentary and overweight because I was more concerned about others than myself. I learned how to love myself again and it made a positive difference in my life. My advice to others is to try to find what makes you happy, take care of your mental health and your body.