Practise creating your own Pain Stories to illustrate Target Concepts – key ideas helpful for everyone to understand pain. Here’s one that we prepared earlier!
Imagine yourself alone in a building somewhere old and unfamiliar. Buildings can make all sorts of noises – creaks, squeaks, bangs and knocks. You might find yourself startled by some of these noises wondering what they are.
Perhaps one noise in particular grabs your attention, conjuring images that someone or something has found their way in and is walking around the house. You feel your heart racing and you are a little jumpy the next time you hear something. Eventually, you go and investigate and find that maybe it’s a water pipe that bangs as the heating comes on or a squeaky door gently moving with the breeze from an open window.
Understandably, you might remain a little unsettled or ‘on edge’, noticing all the new and strange noises – a protective response that served our ancestors well to survive another day. This might be enough to interrupt whatever you were doing – watching a film, working or sleeping. You might then work out a different way of setting the heating or wedging the door or now that you know the noise is nothing untoward, just letting it be.
Pain, particularly pain that is unpredictable, can bring about similar changes in you. Your focus and attention shifts. You start to look out for unusual sensations in your body. Your stress systems might be switched into an alert mode. You might become jumpy, anxious and not be able to focus on your usual everyday tasks like having a conversation or reading a book, instead having your attention diverted to these strange and unpredictable bodily experiences, wondering what they are, what they mean or what you should do about them.
Exploring and making sense of the situation you find yourself in and finding strategies to deal with it can be liberating when you are in pain or an unfamiliar, creaky house. It may take some time, to make sense of the nuances of your particular situation and find the things you can do that enable you to get on with everyday activities and stuff that matters to you.
Based in London, Tim is a Principal NOI instructor, travelling globally to present courses and to consult on best practice in hospitals and clinics.