Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity

I wanted to spend a little time telling you about something that has really helped improve my life. I used to spend a big part of my day dwelling on pain. I had lived with pain so long that it was a part of my life. I didn’t know how to overcome it. No matter what I did or took, the pain would seep through. I found that I was no longer living, but rather existing.

Last year one of my doctors told me about a program called PRC. It stands for the Pain Rehab Clinic. Its at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota. They told me if I went I would have to be very dedicated and be willing to work hard to get my life back. I was in a place that I was ready to give up. That I couldn’t live my life like I was. No pain med worked anymore. I needed to do something if I wanted to find any joy in life again.

PRC is a 30 day program. Last November I went to the one for teenagers. The kids there were like me. Dwelling in pain. They had lived a big part of their lives trying to figure out how to survive with pain. We all needed help learning how to manage it.

We all learned how to have a productive day. We learned to focus on other things. Our day included working out for an hour everyday. Recreational therapy, art therapy, group therapy and learning other ways to heal our bodies without pain medications. We learned that we may have to accept that we would never be pain free, but we could still live a good life. It’s not easy to accept that you’re never going to be like everyone else and live without pain. But learning that we could better control it was key. Did you know that pain meds only work for 5-7 days and then they really don’t work anymore? You just keep needing more and more and then they cause more pain because you get hyperalgesia. They were never meant to be used for more than that many days.

PRC kept us really busy. We started at 7am and weren’t done til 5pm. Then we were required as a group to go out and socialize. We went rock climbing, ice skating, did archery, laser tag. We went to the mall and did anything that kept us busy. We built some cool friendships too.

We learned to be productive and were taught not to think or talk about pain. By thinking and talking about pain we build neuropathways to it. By keeping busy and being productive we basically trick our minds to not dwell on it and build new neuropathways. You basically work on healing your brain this way so its not so sensitive to pain and it can’t rule your life.

I learned that pain had become so much of my life. I missed out on so many good things to dwell on the bad pain. I learned to stand up to pain. I think that was the main point of the program.

We learned to deep breathe too. Deep breathing makes your body more relaxed. It helps you break through from the stress pain causes and helps get rid of symptoms. I’m not completely sure about this, but they told us it prevents you from regurgitating. Deep breathing helps manage the pain at the moment and puts you in a much better mood.

I’m really glad I went to PRC. I learned how to better manage pain. I learned how to build new pathways in my brain so I won’t hurt as much which is what neuroplasticity is. Did it take away my pain? No of course not, but I can better deal with it with the tools they taught me.

Through this experience I’ve met a lot of new people. Some of the teens I still keep in contact with and they’ve become friends. I’ve also learned how to be more responsible and organized.

So, if you have pain and dwell on it, and you have $50,000 or really good insurance, I would recommend you check it out. It helped me and it will help you to if you’re open to it. You have to have an open mind and be willing to work hard. It builds character and teaches you useful tools.

The program will exhaust you and you’ll most likely want to quit a few times, but just persevere and pick up your chin and grin and say……I can do this (and the sun will come out tomorrow). You’ve got this. Take your life back.

I would like to thank you so much for reading my blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and would like to encourage you to comment below what you think. Have a great rest of you day. Hope this wasn’t too “painful” to read. God bless.

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6 thoughts on “Neuroplasticity

  1. Cristiane says:

    Very well written Avery !!!
    So good to know you have learned a few different ways to manage the pain.
    I wish and I pray that you wouldn’t be in pain but your testimonies for sure help others.
    You are a very brave young man and an inspiration to many.
    You and your mom are always in my prayers.
    God bless you.
    Looking forward to reading your next post
    Love
    Cristiane Matos

    Like

  2. Anissa says:

    Avery,
    I enjoy reading your blog and this update was amazing. Great info and sharing and I am sure will be very helpful to others. You are a bright light and you looked really great (and really grown up) in the video where you and Tank reunited. I am blessed to know your precious family and hope you will continue this amazing blog. Take care.

    Like

  3. Caitlin Buckingham (CHCO Nurse) says:

    I think this is the coolest blog ever!! I am so impressed by the man you have grown up to be and how you decide to handle pain and all the other crummy medical things that get thrown your way. You are an inspiration! Keep writing- it is definitely one of your gifts!!
    (also this wasn’t too “painful” to read… 😀 haha )

    Like

  4. Tom Ammentorp says:

    Hey Avery,
    thanks for sharing your perspective on this topic. I was not aware of this and am so happy you were able to attend this seminar/meeting/course.
    I wish you didn’t have to deal chronic pain, but it is so instructive to all of us how you are able to bravely deal with it in a positive manner.
    You are such a strong man with loads of courage to carry on and keep such a cheerful perspective. Great seeing you in Phoenix a few months ago buddy!
    Keep the updates coming!
    Uncle Tom

    Like

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