Last week, we read the story of Frank and his struggle with chronic pain and addiction to painkillers due to fibromyalgia. When Frank suffered his injury and was later diagnosed with the chronic disorder, he did what most of us would do – he waited for the doctor to tell him what’s next.
A day after chronicling Frank’s battle, I read the story of Katie Pumphrey. Katie just swam 15 miles across the Potomac River. Katie also suffers from chronic pain, stemming from fibromyalgia. However, Katie chose to stop waiting for the doctor. Maybe the magazines in the waiting room are outdated. Whatever reason, Katie isn’t taking her instructions from a doctor, nor a clinician.
When she was about nine, Katie’s right shoulder began to hurt. Everyone thought it was tendinitis from swimming. But the pain would mysteriously appear in different parts of her body – one day in her back, another in her hips, another in her ankles. It traveled up and down her spine, making it difficult to breathe. It left her nauseated.
There were countless MRI exams, visits to rheumatologists, physical therapy, massage. She spent her teen years on a regimen of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-seizure medication.
When she was finally diagnosed, it had little to no meaning; this mysterious disorder isn’t curable. It is one which can only be managed. Pumphrey decided to handle the pain her way and stopped waiting for doctors to tell her what to do.
“I kind of made this pact with myself,” she said. “And I just said: ‘Okay, it’s not going to be in control anymore. I’m not going to be in pain anymore.”
Pumphrey decided to take her pain and push it to its limit and manage it through overcoming it – through mind, body and spirit. She focuses her energy on her training and open-swim events. She isn’t dependent on pain medication and she is living her life on her terms.
“This is someone who has taken quality of life into her control,” said Christopher L. Edwards, a medical director at Duke Pain Medicine, “She’s not waiting on a doctor. She’s not waiting on a clinician. Shes taking it upon herself to give herself quality of life.”
Katie is an exception to the rule. Most of us wait for the doctor. We aren’t naturally inclined to swim channels or climb mountains. My friend Frank listened to the doctor – it’s what you’re supposed to do. He got hooked on painkillers. Although he’s ok today, he had a long road back and still does. Recovery, as we know, is a process.
At Hemet Valley & Sage Retreat we aim to help everyone with addiction to pain medication manage their pain through a multitude of treatment methods and activities. We try to help everyone find their own inner Katie Pumphrey… and live life on their own terms.
Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.