The pain management program is attended by two sets of people. Both can be attending for a period of 4 weeks but one class is 2 weeks ahead of the next. They refer to these classes as Seniors and Juniors. I think this is one of the most helpful aspects of the program. As new students come into the class they see the seniors, who after two weeks are walking and cycling good distances. They seem happy. They are optimistic. The list goes on. This encourages the juniors who the seniors see on their first day and wonder if they looked so forlorn and crippled. They come in shuffling their feet and exhibiting all sorts of pain behavior and talk.
You see tears because of the realization of the things they have lost and now they have hope in regaining them.
At the end of week 1 for the Juniors, week 3 for the seniors we have a group session and it’s the students who do the talking. Each person gets a chance to say what the week was like for them and then the others get to respond. It’s a very powerful time to see the courage and hope in each persons walk through this program. We get to hear about activities that an individual gave up long ago because of the pain and fatigue, and their plans to start back at it this weekend because they are already feeling better. You see tears because of the realization of the things they have lost and now they have hope in regaining them.
The staff told a story of an earlier time in the program when they had fewer students. In one 4 week period they only had one individual going through the program. While he was getting lots of attention from the staff, he missed a great deal in the encouragement and challenge that he would have received if attending with other people. Especially other people who were at different stages of the program.
Today we completed the endurance testing and set goals for next week. I’ll max out on the walk by Wednesday but will only increment by two flights on the stairs. Still a slow go with my heart rate. At least I get to move up this time. I have just one more week before they are done with me. I’ll be able to manage my pain on my own. Well, almost. I will need the support of my wife. I can go back to the PMP for refresher classes and to use the gym. But the goal is that I will be on my own. No longer depending on others to fix me. I’m anxious for that. I won’t be cured. I may not have the life that I had before but I’ll have a much healthier and fulfilling life than I was living in pain.