Here at our clinic, we are psychotherapists, rather than medical doctors. That means we don't have a prescription pad. So when you describe symptoms, we do not have the option of giving you medication. This is different from most doctors, and we try to use it to your advantage. Your body has an immune system, and that means that it is trying to heal over time. Our job is to take away what blocks that natural healing process, (stress is the main villain), and strengthen those activities, skills, and attitudes that nourish healing. Over the years, we have discovered that there are four areas of behaviors which are essential to natural healing.
Nutrition and Hydration
It is your physical body that needs to heal, and therefore food and water are the basic elements. If someone lives on candy bars and soda, they are going to heal slower (if at all!) than someone who makes a point to eat fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. This is just common sense. And your body uses water like the radiator of a car, to cool down and flush out waste products. Would you keep driving your care if the temperature gauge was on hot, and burn up your engine? Yet many patients stay in pain and swelling and anxiety, not realizing that proper water intake "cools down" the body, and washes out the toxins that pain and distress and swelling produce. Make a point to drink plenty of water, get rid of sodas, and eat better.
Movement and Stretching
Those of us that have dogs know how much they love it when we take them out for a walk. Guess what? Your body is the same way. It needs to be moved and stretched. Do the words "weak and stiff" sound positive? Pain patients are at great risk for this happening, and your pain is then worse. Start small: 5 minutes of stretching and exercising a day equals 2 and 1/2 hours after a month, if you stay steady and disciplined. There is not a body on this planet that will not feel better in a month, if it has had 2 and 1/2 hours of stretching and movement. Start small, and build from there. And walking outside, in the morning or the evening, is a delight. Or consider a pool and gym membership, for the sake of your body (if you listen to it, it really does want to be taken for a walk!).
Meditation and Prayer
If you are at our clinic, you have been given the beginning CDs to learn how to use your breathing and quiet time to find that place of peace, of restored energy, that we all need. We can call it meditation, breathing prayer, trance, self-calming..... the point is to spend disciplined time each day, deepening these skills. Your mind, body, and spirit love ritual, structure, regular times of quiet that it can count on and look forward to, each day. Your deeper mind can learn how to calm down the muscles and nerves, so as to help you increase your quality of life, day by day, as your practice becomes stronger. Devote the time to practice these skills, have a special time and place that you give over to that source of something deeper and higher. We know that over time, this is better than medication, because it helps with healing, rather than building up chemical side effects. Stress blocks healing, and peace strengthens it.
When you are injured or ill, your life often feels like a curse. It is therefore very important that you make time during the day to feel the blessings and joys that come with still being alive. Your meditation time is part of this, though we encourage you to find other outside activities that soothe or stimulate you. Many of our patients have been saved by taking up a craft, doing painting or beading or stained glass. Pain patients get stuck in their homes: being outside has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety. Go to Brackenridge Park or Woodlawn Lake, have a favorite bench, and take your walks around that. Read the paper at a public library, sit in the chapel, call a friend or relative, start a daily journal, come to group. Let your breathing/meditation time allow you to taste the gift of life in each breath.
Let's be honest: being injured and having pain is hard work, harder work that most people know. But we have tried to list the areas of life and spirit where you can start to push back, to gain back your life. Let it start gentle and small: encourage yourself, congratulate yourself on each moment when you eat better, move more, meditate, and get out of your house and out of your worries. This is a fact: as the weeks, months, and years go by, if you stay faithful and disciplined with these efforts, your body and mind will get stronger and better able to cope. And you will take back quality of life, and live the life that you were meant to live. If this is done right, you can actually become a stronger and better person through the task of working on your recovery. We make it our priority to help you with this as best we can.