Resource Elements

Alliance members found these aspects of Mo’s story useful:

Mo was a founding member of the Oregon Pain Science Alliance because she wanted to share her story of finding a path to master persistent pain, based on key concepts she learned from pain science research.

The Alliance has recorded several variations of her story.  This one is unique because it features the influence of her father’s actions on her pain history.

Her success at mastering life-long pain started in a Movement, Meditation and Pain Science course at age 70, when she realized that pain is a protective mechanism constructed by her ‘powerful’ brain, rather than a penalty for tissue damage she experienced.  The excitement of getting her life back energizes her to help other people realize the benefit she has.  She exudes hope!

Maureen is 78 now, retired, and living in Albany Oregon, has Crohn’s disease, has had 16 surgeries, and suffered from an alcoholic father from age 6 to 12.  Her persistent, sometimes constant pain, began at age 14, and continued until she was about 70.  Earlier a doctor sent her to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her fears to be associated with her father’s abuse.  Bingo, that made sense to her, but no next steps were offered on how to handle that fear.

Eight years ago a county health department worker recommended she take the ‘Movement, Mindfulness and Pain Science’ class at the Lebanon hospital.  The pain science understanding she gained in that class changed her life and her son says she is a different person now.

She learned to master her pain without pills, by using her powerful brain.  When pain occurs she recognizes it is a protector, she forgave her father, stopped taking 12 medications, learned to deep-breathe, and to visualize safety and peacefulness, so has mastered her persistent pain.  She says you don’t have to suffer, there is help in understanding pain science concepts.

I am 78 years old.  My name is Mo Forrest.  I have been in pain since I was 14 years old due to Crohn’s disease.  Tonight I am going to talk about my Father.

He was an abusive alcoholic.  I watched him beat my Mother, my brother and myself.  He would hold me up by one hand and beat me with his belt.  I was so scared of him that I would tell my Mother that my bones would shake.  I remember waiting in the car outside a tavern for my Dad to come out.  I saw the lady next door go into the tavern.   A few days later she helped my Mom make sandwiches for lunch.  I would not eat mine because she had touched it.   She had been in a tavern and taverns are bad.  I was 6 years old.  I remember him passed out on the kitchen floor and Mom saying she had to give him his insulin shot or he would die.  I went around the corner and prayed she wouldn’t give it to him.  I felt guilty about my prayer.

My Uncle, a Catholic Priest, asked why she didn’t leave.  She said it was a sin to get a divorce.  He said God didn’t want her to live that way.  He would help her and she became his housekeeper.  I lived in a rectory for a few years.  I was 7 when we left.  Life was better but I had a dream that he would come and kill us all.  I was 12 when he died.  The dreams stopped but I still had fears of the night.  In my 20’s I was in constant pain at night.  I think it got worse because as an adult I had to go out at night and my husband worked nights.  My pain would get so bad I couldn’t move.  My Doctor gave me no instructions on anything that would help me.  I was sent to a psychiatrist.  She said it was because I was afraid my Dad would come home at night.  BINGO that was it.  But I had no instructions on how to handle that fear.  I felt that pain was to be my life.

About 8 years ago I took a class called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy taught by Lianne Dyche.  Lianne suggested that I take the ‘Movement, Mindfulness and Pain Science’ class at the Lebanon hospital.  That class changed my life. My son tells me I am a different person.  I always thought chronic pain meant severe pain.  It means there is no tissue damage.  So how the heck was a doctor going to cure me with pills?  I must cure myself and the pain-science doctors taught me how.  I had to work on it.  I learned that I have a powerful brain, we all do, you do too.  My brain controls my pain.  I was understanding what I was doing.  I knew I had so much anxiety, stress, negative thoughts, fears that my emotions were sky high.  I learned that this can comes from trauma, especially childhood trauma.  I learned if I perceive pain, I will have pain, no doubt about it, I will have pain.

So what did I do with this new knowledge?  First I practice deep breathing, called belly breathing, while I practice mindfulness.  I learned how helpful it is to live in the present.  Once I was shopping and felt I couldn’t finish. I was going to call my son, but remembered to be in the present.  I decided to notice every color in the store and started to name them off.  I finished my shopping and checked out.

Fear, that is a big one.  Pain is a protector and when it would start to get dark my brain notes this is a dangerous time and sends out pain.  I am simplifying this but that is basically what happens.  I deep breathe while repeating to myself that night time is a good time, it is a safe time and a peaceful time.  That there is nothing out there that isn’t there during the day.  I found that visualization very helpful.  I would visualize I was outside and it was very peaceful.  I have completely lost my fear of the dark at night.  I was able to make peacefulness my main thought, not fear.  My Crohn’s pain is better, I have slips but I know what to do in order to get back on track.

I am happy now, I feel I have overcome my childhood.

I have had 16 different surgeries.  I feel some could have been avoided if I knew about pain science years ago.  I once took 18 different meds.  Just 6 now and mostly prescribed supplements.

One of the most important things I did was to forgive my Dad.  There are a lot of alcoholics in my family and we are also dyslexic and have an attention deficit disorder.  We are smart people and it is hard with this disability.  I can now see that my Dad was self-medicating.  There wasn’t the knowledge back then.   My Mother always said to love our Dad because he was sick.  I didn’t understand how she could say that, but she was right.  I wish I could have known the other side of my Dad.  I am learning new findings all the time.  The Alliance offers a resource book list.  I encourage you to look up Dr Moseley, and Pain Science on the web and come to our Community Meetings.  What helps me may not help you, we are all different.   I am grateful for the people that helped me.  You don’t have to suffer, there is help.

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