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Monday, November 23, 2009

Mind Matters: The Secret to Dealing With Chronic Pain and Related Depression – Part 2

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

The Sh’ma: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 NIV

“You’re kidding,” I gasped. “You had surgery without anesthesia?”

A friend explained that he’d mentally blocked the pain and had even managed to control bleeding during major surgery. This brilliant man, an expert in many areas, had decided to run a personal experiment on his pain control studies. He claimed it worked and would do it again.

The Mind Matters
Refocus and Think On What Is Lovely

I was suffering from chronic pain from several sources and taking pain medications that made it hard to function as a young parent. My friend explained that pain management was about focus and concentration. He taught me to isolate painful areas and refocus my thoughts on other areas. He said to draw a mental wall between pain and the rest of me. I was to refocus all thoughts on the blessed pain-free parts of my body and ignore everything on the other side of the wall.

I thought of my preschool daughter. When Kelley would hurt herself, she’d begin hitting another part of her body. Perplexed, I’d asked why.

“Mommy,” she’d calmly explained while pounding on her arm. “When I hit my arm, my hurt knee feels better.” Kelley was refocusing.

The Bible says to love God with our entire mind. It instructs us to use that mind to think on things lovely. I wondered if I could combine my newly learned pain control methods, my young daughter’s refocusing techniques, and the Biblical principle of thinking only on what was lovely. I didn’t hit myself but I did begin drawing that wall and concentrating on the few parts of me that actually felt good. I discovered that the mind matters. If we refocus and think on what is lovely, we can lesson our pain

The Mind Matters – Bear Your Cross

I was famous for whining about pain. I’m sure people got tired of hearing about it. The Bible promises us the mind of Christ. I started thinking about what that meant about my pain. The most painful event recorded in human history is the crucifixion. How did Jesus handle that pain? He bore His cross. He accepted it. He used it to help others. He continued fulfilling His earthly call. The mind matters. I wanted the mind of Christ so I started seeking His mind about pain. The pain began to lose its ability to stop me from living. I stopped whining and began learning to bear my crosses.

The Mind Matters – Educate Your Mind

Another way to love God with our minds is to educate those minds. I began researching my vairied medical conditions that included injuries, fibromyalgia, and a sensitive stomach. I went to experts. If one couldn’t help, I went to another. I did what they said and began to get better.

I learned that my pain driven sedentary lifestyle was the worst thing I could do. I went to a physical therapist. I studied muscles and how to stretch troubled areas. I allowed God to give me the discipline and courage to stretch through pain and repair damaged muscles.

One night, at a pharmacy picking up pain medicine for fibromyalgia, I noticed a medical book chained to the counter. I flipped to the pages on fibromyalgia and read that nightshade vegetables increased pain. I was eating 1 to 2 white potatoes daily. I stopped potatoes immediately and my pain level dropped from 6 out of 10 to a 2. Now, I get up every morning, note my pain level on a scale of 1-10, and review the day before. I take note of what I ate and did and its impact on my pain and react accordingly. Now, 25 years later, I take no pain medicine. While I’m never completely pain free, my pain level stays at a manageable 1-2 out of 10. I can’t remember when I spent a day in bed due to pain. The mind matters. Educate it.

Action Steps

The first article was an introcution. The next 4 articles will discuss pain and how we can reduce it by loving God with our hearts, souls, and strengths, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Until then, the mind matters. Love God with your mind by:

• Thinking on what is lovely: Draw a mental wall between the pain and you and refocus on pain free areas.
• Educating your mind: Learn the medical facts and apply them.
• Analyzing the previous day: Rate your pain level from 1-10. Review what you ate and did the day before, and adjust accordingly.
• Developing the mind of Christ: Use the crucifixion as your model for living with pain. Bear your cross and do the work of the moment.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information, to schedule a speaker for an event, or to make a donation, go to the website or call Gail Golden at 904 316-5462.

Copyright: Pocket Full of Change Ministries

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Secret to Dealing With Chronic Pain and Related Depression - Part 1

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

The Sh’ma: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 NIV

“I know you are in pain but this depression has gone on long enough. I’ve never seen a time when you had so much to be happy about. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. It is time to start enjoying your life again.”

Did I really just say that aloud? For weeks, I’d been kind, nurturing, encouraging, and patient. As soon as I said the words, I wanted to grab them back but if I’m nothing else in my relationships, I’m honest about how I feel. I love my friend and don’t want her unhappy.

The night before, I’d laid in the bathtub praying for my friend. As I prayed, I thought about the chronic pain I’d lived with for years. I haven’t always been as kind to my body as I am now and my aging body suffers as a result. I don’t often talk about my pain but it is there.

Accidents have weakened three places in my body and they become easily sore. I have what the doctors label as Fibromyalgia, which means I have unspecific pain throughout my body. Thirty years ago, I was grossly obese and the damage from that is also apparent. I have a sensitive stomach that screams if I eat the wrong thing. At one time, I spent my days in bed from pain, illness, and pain related depression. My pain level hovered between a 6-8 out of a 10 point scale. I felt old, used up, and useless. My aching body overshadowed everything good in my life. I lived on medicine that only treated the symptoms and added to my lethargy. I was a mess.

Now, twenty something years later, I’m almost completely medicine free, my pain level hovers between a 2-3, I hike trails all over the country, snow ski, and can’t remember the last time I spent a day in bed. What happened? The Sh’ma is what happened.

“What do I do?” my beloved friend cried. “I know you are right. I’ve told myself the same thing. I have everything to be grateful for but I can’t seem to get beyond the pain. I’ve felt good my entire life. I don’t know how to deal with this.”

“Thank God you’ve always felt good. I haven’t been pain free in years,” I said. “Until I started thinking about it, I hadn’t realized all of the things I do to help with my pain and related depression.”

As I started to share my pain secrets, my friend said, “I’m writing as fast as I can but I can’t keep it up. You need to write about this.”

“Good idea,” I said. “I think I will.” I began praying about and reviewing what I do to function through chronic pain and like everything else in my life, the treatment is mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. When I focus all of my energy on loving God with my entire mind, heart, soul, and strength, the result is the healthiest body I’m capable of having. My body is a frail earthen vessel and while I’m on earth, it will be human but at least I can treat it like the Holy Temple it is. When I do that, it gives me the best performance it can give. I can live with that and fulfill God’s call in my life. When I love God completely, my body allows me to serve my neighbors.

Action Steps

This is part one of a six part series. In the next five articles, you'll learn about applying the Sh’ma to chronic pain and related depression. Each article will focus on one of the parts of the Sh’ma, and will have practical tips about using the Sh’ma to live with and improve chronic pain.

Until the next article, here are some easy things everyone can do:

• Mind – Focus on the parts of your body that don't hurt and thank God for that.
• Heart – Just for today, choose to be happy.
• Soul – Spend thirty minutes in meditation, prayer, and Bible Study.
• Strength – Spend five minutes a day gently stretching.
• Neighbor – Do a simple secret service for someone every day. If someone finds out about it, it won’t count.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to or call Gail Golden at 904 316-5462.

This ministry exists because people like you are called to help fund the work of the kingdom. To help keep the Cheryle M. Touchton and Belle the Missionary Dog on the missionary road, send your tax deductible contribution to Pocket Full of Change Ministries, POB 51205, Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32240 or go to the donate button on the home page of this website.

Copyright: Pocket Full of Change Ministries