Resource Elements

  1. Childhood trauma created chronic pain later in her life.
  2. Diagnosis without corresponding treatments was not helpful.
  3. Eventually she learned pain-science-based practices that changed her life, because she could manage her chronic pain episodes.
  1. An older retired woman with multiple health problems found relief from chronic pain through pain-science-based concepts.
  2. Her chronic pains were related to fears she developed in early childhood.
  3. She realized she was not destined to live with pain like her mother had.
  4. She answered her questions about what she could do to master the pains when they occurred.

I am Mo Forrest. I am 78 years old and the Treasurer of the Oregon Pain Science Alliance. My trauma started in my early childhood because my father was an abusive alcoholic. I’ll just say I was very scared of him; I would tell my mom that my bones shake.

When I was seven, my Mother’s Brother (a Catholic priest), came to see us and asked my mom why she didn’t leave. She said because divorce is a sin. He said “God does not want you to live this way” that he needed a house keeper and she could bring us kids. That was the security she needed. She gave us each a paper bag and said to pack what we wanted. I didn’t want to pack for fear he would come home. Life was better living in the rectory. I felt more
secure although I had dreams that he would find us and kill us. My dad died when I was 12 and the dreams stopped. We were in the rectory for three years.

I always tried to hide the pain from my mother. I was protective of her, having seen her abuse. I never wanted to worry her. When I was 14, I had bad pain in my abdominal area. and she found out. The first doctor I saw said he didn’t know what it was, but was definitely not the appendix. I couldn’t relax for an examination, so an exploratory surgery was done. Finding nothing wrong with my female organs he looked at the appendix. It was estimated that it had been ruptured for two months. Gangrene and peritonitis had set in. I lay in the hospital bed, and I could hear people outside my door saying, “she should be dead.” I got so I wouldn’t talk to anyone. It was a trauma for me.

Eventually my mom had a boarding house. I had my three brothers and mom and felt safe. My mom was always sick, and I had a lot of responsibilities. I got married at 19 and my husband worked nights. I started to have real bad pain at night. It was my joints would cramp so bad I couldn’t move. My doctor sent me to a physiatrist. After working with her for a while, she thought the pain was because my dad came home at night. WOW, that was it. I wasn’t given any help on how to get over the pain at night I just figured that pain was to be my life.

About five years ago my son took a class called Acceptance, Commitment and Therapy, taught by Lianne Dyche. He said it was a good class and I should take it, so I did, and it was a good class. About that time the Samaritan Lebanon Hospital Physical Therapy Department was teaching a class called Movement, Mindfulness and Pain Science. Lianne thought I should take the class next, so I did. What I learned in that class changed my life.

I was on 18 different meds including an opioid then, but now just 6 and no opioids. I have had 16 surgeries. I have Crohn’s disease, which causes cramping in my abdomen and inflammation in the joints. I have neuropathy. My legs and my feet are numb with shooting pains and I have
kidney disease. I had a stroke and have a pacemaker. But now I am doing great.

So what did I learn that helped me so much? I learned that chronic pain is where there is no tissue damage and is often caused by trauma. I learned I can manage the pain and that all pain is real. The Pain Triangle (analogy) was very helpful where the three sides are sensations, thoughts, and emotions. And like the Fire Triangle, if you remove any side, you can control (the fire or) your pain. I learned that we have a powerful brain that controls pain. And better
yet, we can (re)program the brain so it doesn’t send out pain messages when there is no tissue damage. I also learned how important movement is. If you feel like you can’t move the best thing to do is to move even it is only a few feet to start. I also learned not to visualize that something is going to hurt; if you do, then it will hurt. I learned to pace myself. Now that I understand the pain science what I use most is deep breathing and mindfulness.

So how did I apply what I learned to manage my chronic pain? I always thought that I would be like my Mom. That her fate would be my fate. After the doctor said I couldn’t take care of her at home anymore, she was in a nursing home for years. When she died she had strong seizures and only her face moved. How different her life would have been if the new pain science was known then. I got over fear by deep breathing and mindfulness. I would feel my breath come in threw my nose and down to abdomen and back out slowly keeping my mind on the breathing.

I would say over and over again that I was not my mother, that I am a separate person. That I am an individual who is healthy and strong, which helped my back pain. It takes a while (to learn) but it works. I still get pain but I know what to do so I can keep functioning. What I did for the chronic pain caused by my fear of my dad was the same method, deep breathing and mindfulness. I would say over and over again that nighttime was a peaceful
time. That everything slows down and it is a quiet time. There is nothing outside that isn’t out there during the day. I completely got over the night pain and the fear of the night.

What works for me may not work for you. We are all different. Find out what works for you. Join our Self Care Meetings; we (the Oregon Pain Science Alliance) have 8 meetings per year. Check our Resource List. Have your doctor give you a referral to the MAPS classes (Samaritan Hospital Lebanon, Oregon). You can also search YouTube for “pain science” and Lorimer Moseley. Give us your email and we will keep you informed.

My mom always said to love our dad, that he was sick. I couldn’t understand how she could say that. I realize due to the stress and anxiety that runs in the family that she was right; he was self-medicating. I forgave him and learned to love him.

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