The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Archive for pain management

How Can We Measure Chronic Pain

PET scan of a normal 20-year-old brain.
Image via Wikipedia

Up until now we tried to come up with words to describe our pain: needles, throbbing, aching, numb, etc. The the medical world moved pup to asking you to give them a number or choose “a face” of carton characters. Although I can see how this method makes sense for people in acute pain, I never know how to answer the question when asked some place like the ER.

“What is your pain between 1 and 10?” they ask.
“Uh… do you mean my ankle that I’ here about or overall?”

Even the person asking doesn’t always answer the same. Because I would say the scale changes every 6 months. The pain gets worse but I learn to live with it. What was a “10” 5 years ago is now just a 5 or 6.

I need to express that I am in pain, but I need to leave plenty of room for those days (or nights) that the body flares up so badly I really cannot move a limb or finger.

Well, there may be a solution on the horizon (if you have high hopes). According to a new series of studies that has been studying brain imaging techniques [such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)] have shown “distinct differences between the brains of people in pain and others who are not.” Scientists discover way of measuring pain (7/7/09)

“Pain seems to increase the blood flow to certain parts of the brain, roughly in proportion to the amount of pain felt, and we can measure that activation in a brain scan,” said Irene Tracey, professor of anaesthetic science at Oxford University and director of its centre for fMRI and the brain.

The good news is that when we are trying to find a doctor who believes us about our pain level or a lawyer that believes we have a disability case, a certain amount of our pain may be more verifiable.  But I still wonder if what my brain showed would have the same adjustments as I do now when they ask, “How much pain are you in?”

Would my brain show my actual pain level, or how much better or worse the pain was than 6 months earlier? And would it take into account that my brain processed the pain differently the umpteenth time around and tolerated more?

Food for thought…

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Buzzy Brings Relief When Getting Shots

buzzyIf you are the mom of a school age child, it seems like summer has just begun, and yet soon those physicals will need to be scheduled. What does this mean? Sometimes. . . shots!

Who among us have not said, “It hurts me more than it hurts you?” And if you don’t have children. . . all those who LIKE getting shots, raise your hand! (Yeah, I didn’t think there would be many hands held up high saying “me!)

Well, here is a very cool gadget! Buzzy is a FDA-approved plastic “bee” that uses mechanical vibrations to “confuse” nerve endings. The toy bee will distract your child from the pain of a shot, finger prick–even an IV insertion.

(Meaning: if you have a child with a chronic illness, this is MUST-HAVE. I was just talking to a mom of a tween daughter who is on rheumatoid arthritis treatment injections and she shared how painful they were and how badly she felt.) You can even take the sting out of splinter-removal, bee stings or minor burns.

And if your child is freaked out by the fact that it’s a bee (my son is currently terrified of bees)just order the plain black vibrating gadget without the stripes, allowing your child or teenager to personalize Buzzy® into a Pirate, an Astronaut, or leave it black and cool. Below for example are “Buzzy Chix” (Couldn’t we all have a little fun decorating our Buzzys with some craft paint?)

Buzzy’s web site states, “Our goal is to provide options and information about acute pain management, particularly needle procedures. For needle phobia, newly diagnosed diabetes or leukemia, or immunization information, read on!”

You just bring with you to the doctor. Just press on the skin during the shot to rapidly reduce needle pain. Can you imagine the nurses saying, “Where did you get that?” Think of the tears that won’t be shed. If this works as well as all of the testimonials say it does, imagine no longer sitting in the doctor’s room waiting. . . and waiting. . . while your child hears the screams of other children as they get their shots.

Why didn’t we think of this sooner? Well, of course, it took a mom! Buzzy was developed by pediatric emergency physician (and mom of three) Amy Baxter and it effectiveness for kids age 4+ is supported by a bunch of scientific evidence.

Scientists, moms, and nurses may all speak highly of it, but you can’t get a better testimonial than from Jill, Age 5: “Buzzy made my
shot not hurty!”

So, check out their web site. You can even tell your own needle phobia story. After all,who says this is just for kids? After being in the hospital last fall for a week and having them stick me over and over until my entire stomach was purple, I could have used a Buzzy about day 3. Hey, I’m a wimp with some things and not afraid to admit it!

Buzzy is $35 so it’s not a cheap gadget. But gather together a few mom friends and make the investment together.

Visit their web site or call 877-805-BUZZ (2899). You can also watch a video of Buzzy in action.

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