Simple Ideas for Recovery


In the sections that follow, I will be referring to Suzanne, Mike, Sarah and Ashley. They are all characters, like you, who live every day in pain.

You can read about their struggles and triumphs in Book One of Unbelievable Pain Control. This book is based on a true story. Here, these four characters learn how one amazing person was able to demonstrate unbelievable pain control. This incredible person underwent major surgery without anesthesia and without any pain medication after her surgery. (In Book Two, you can meet the real person who was able to accomplish such incredible pain control – control over pain during major abdominal surgery and in several additional dental surgeries.)

Below are some of the things Suzanne, Mike, Sarah and Ashley learned from this amazing person. I have also tried to explain some central ideas about chronic pain and its’ impact on people’s lives. I sincerely hope this information can help you and your family.

First, Stop Falling

It is very hard to move forward, toward recovery, when you are still falling backward. Without any solid footing you cannot stop the falling. This can happen when you get injured, can’t work, can’t keep up with your bills and can’t stop falling behind financially. Recovery and healing are almost impossible with such powerful forces pressing down on you.

A first step toward recovery is to get some type of solid financial footing. You need to make sure that you receive all the income replacement benefits that are legally available to you. This is necessary to protect you and your family. It is also necessary to protect you from the overwhelming stresses that can send your pain levels soaring and interfere with treatment and recovery.

Safety First. Security first. Then your healing and recovery will have a fighting chance.

Uncertainties Can
Hold You Back

Losses can set you back and keep you falling. Uncertainties are stressful, too, but less so. They can keep you treading water, tire you out, and interfere with any kind of forward movement or recovery.

Of course, after serious or prolonged injury, there are many uncertainties in your life. Many questions. When will the pain go away? Why can’t my doctors fix my injuries? What happens if I can’t go back to work? How will I support my family? These questions can haunt you.

Ashley is a note taker and list maker. That is how she gets through life. After she was injured, it became her lifeline. She wrote out questions before each meeting with her doctors and therapists. She wrote down the answers they gave. Often this triggered more questions, which she wrote down for the next meeting. She learned some things and gradually felt less uncertain about her injuries and future. For some questions, she was never able to get any clear answers – even years later. Maybe the answers to these questions have yet to be discovered – such as when a cure will be found for chronic pain. They are still in her notebook though. And one by one, she got rid of the many uncertainties that held her back. Uncertainties made her feel hesitant and weak. She wanted to feel strong and confident again. Her notebook helped. Sharing her notes also helped Suzanne, Mike, Sarah and Ashley – a lot.

A Verdict Is No Cure

Some doctors, lawyers, insurance adjusters and everyday citizens still believe, that once your lawsuit is over, you will be all better. Your pains will magically disappear and you can return to work and a normal life. Wouldn’t this be nice?

Life doesn’t work out this way though and never has. Scientists have studied this issue in numerous research projects over the years. The findings have been quite clear. Chronic pain does not end when your case is settled. Your life may be less stressful because the insurance companies and lawyers are out of your life. With less stress, your pain may lessen. For this reason, it is very helpful to have your dealings with insurance companies end as soon as possible. But settlements and court victories, however useful in paying your debts, cannot cure chronic pain. A verdict is no cure.

Even if others stubbornly cling to their prejudices, it is important for you to be clear about this essential fact.

Freedom and Independence

One of the ways that chronic pain can interfere with your life is by forcing you to become more dependent on others. This can happen in many little ways, such as needing extra help with household chores, childcare or yard work, as examples.

If you are out of work, it can happen in a big way. Being out of work forces you to become dependent on benefits from others – an insurance or workers’ compensation company, the government or a company disability plan. This is a highly stressful situation to be in. It knocked Suzanne down and nearly killed Sarah.

If you are able to work, now or in the future, do everything you can to make this happen. This may include working modified or lighter duties, changing jobs or even retraining. Mike found out from his rehab psychologist that his workers’ compensation company would even pay for him to go to school and learn a new career. Some people are offered buyouts from their insurance company. This may be an option if you are too injured to return to work. Whatever way you can, try to get the insurance system out of your life. You will have less stress, more freedom and independence and more energy to focus on recovery. Your body will also thank you.

Your Comeback Story

Ashley heard this idea, one day, from a very dynamic woman she met at a fibromyalgia support group. This dynamo, Corey used to be a career counselor who worked helping managers and executives find new jobs after they had been laid off. These managers were embarrassed by having to look for new jobs and hated being asked the same questions over and over again, by friends, family or whoever had heard that they had been out of work. To cope with these questions, Corey developed a short story that managers could tell people whenever this situation came up. She called it the 30-second commercial. Ashley liked this idea so much she adapted it to help her deal with people’s endless questions about her injuries. She called her version her Comeback Story.

Ashley’s comeback story had four basic parts: the past, her accident, her rehabilitation and a happy ending. The past included a couple of details about her former work. Then she mentioned that she was in a car accident several years ago and suffered from painful neck and back injuries. (She avoids talk about her fibromyalgia, except to her most understanding supporters). Next, she purposely talks, briefly, about how much her doctors and therapists have helped her. Some have helped more than others, but Ashley describes it this way to avoid all the “why aren’t your doctors doing more?” questions. These why questions can be very difficult and are too depressing to explain. Finally, in her happy ending, she notes that she is doing pretty well, still seeing her doctors, getting stronger each day and hoping to return to work one day. Then, without taking a breath, she changes the subject to focus more on the other person.

Ashley is still fine-tuning her comeback story. It really helped her to navigate all the times when she was stuck having to explain herself. She hated being in this position, but, short of being rude, it was hard to avoid. Thankfully, she had her comeback story whenever she needed it.


This article may be printed/distributed freely as long as the entire article and the following bio are included.

Dr. Michael MacDonald is the author of Unbelievable Pain Control: How to Heal and Recover from Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia and a detailed website about pain that can be found at


©2010 Dr. Michael R. MacDonald. All Rights Reserved