Words matter. Words trigger thoughts… thoughts trigger feelings… and feelings can easily manifest as sensations in the body. And we already have enough sensations in our bodies. Let’s choose our words with intention, so we can stay calm and clear with energy available for what we need to do. Whether pain is big or small, if we use the same word for it, we may summon up the same reaction to it, the same associations we may have acquired over what for you could be months or years of chronic pain.
The word pain evokes something to be dreaded. It requires immediate action, and it also calls for sympathy (“Oh you poor thing”.) We may think of pain as something beyond our control.
Pain is a symptom (from the Greek, meaning messenger.) It carries information. Once we register that information (“my hand is touching something hot!” or “I’m stretching too far!”) then we don’t need to keep receiving the information. The pain you are likely feeling from your hip (or knee, or wherever) is likely not providing you with new information. So our goal will be to allow those sensations to recede into the background and less troubling.
So as a first step: let’s use different words. Try Discomfort. Ache. Soreness. Strong sensation. Try phrases like “my leg was talking a bit today.”
There will be strong sensation involved in doing the physical training to prepare your body for a successful surgery, and then afterwards to retrain the muscles to fire in the correct sequence. We have to become willing to tolerate some strong sensations associated with effort, and to differentiate that from pain… or we won’t make progress.
That doesn’t mean we’re just going to suffer. Whatever we call it, your pain has still got to be managed. If that requires opiates, so be it. But I have met several people (plus myself) who have managed hip replacements without opiates, and I believe you can too. I am suggesting that we not try to keep our sensation of discomfort at zero at all times. To do so, we’ll have to be completely zonked out on something, and not actively involved in our healing. Nor should we be gritting our teeth.
Here’s what I suggest you have on hand to use in combination:
- Using less-charged language when we talk about our sensation to ourselves and others.
- Pain medication (whatever you have chosen, in consultation with your surgeon: opiate at the low end of your dosage, high CBD cannabis or even NSAIDS).
- A topical analgesic (balm of cannabis or essential oils).
- Cold therapy.
- Mind training with Hemi-Sync’s De-Discomfort recording (available on iTunes). If used repeatedly, this can take a nagging discomfort and dampen it down significantly. I wouldn’t say that it would be effective for a screaming pain.
Wait… Mind training? Are you saying it’s all in my head?
No, but we are suffering about our suffering. That’s where much of the suffering lives- the associated thoughts that this pain is manifesting again, that it’s so long until surgery and then the recovery may be painful also… [fill in with the thoughts that come into your mind when you are physically uncomfortable.] That’s suffering about our suffering, and it’s our mind’s contribution to our challenge. Without mind training, you’re not likely to shift that habit (Actually, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Hypnotherapy would also work fine for this, but listening to this relaxing 25 minute recording is going to get you there faster and more cheaply).
So train your mind and be intentional with your words. You may find yourself reaching less for painkillers of any kind.