Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chronic Pain: Does Sex Matter?


September is chronic pain awareness month and a perfect time to recognize that when it comes to chronic pain, women are treated differently than men.


As reported in my article Women, Pain, Bias, and Discrimination, written for Health Central, there is a century’s old bias against women, and I am sorry to say not much has changed in the twenty-first century. Our pain remains misunderstood, mistreated, undertreated, and often times, untreated all together—simply because we are women.

The Wandering Womb = Wandering womb was the belief that a displaced uterus was the cause of many medical pathologies in women. The belief originates in the medical texts of ancient Greece, although it persisted in European academic medicine and popular thought for centuries. Wikipedia (accessed, September, 2018)

The National Pain Strategy tells us bias, stigma, and discrimination exists, and women exhibiting pain from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other conditions are among the vulnerable. So, why might that be? 


There are specific factors that influence pain in women that are different from men. Researchers (2016) propose this is because of genetic, anatomical, physiological, neuronal, hormonal, psychological, and social factors.

Gender matters because:

“Women do not want to appear “too strong or too weak, too healthy or too sick, or too smart or too disarranged and struggle for the maintenance of self-esteem or dignity as patients and as women.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12927471

3.     The character of our pain is different.
6.     Our risks for chronic pain are significantly different and higher.

Evidence is mounting. 

“Medical researchers recently found that a specific manipulation of receptors in the nervous system for the neurotransmitter dopamine impairs chronic pain in male mice, but has no effect on females.” Science News (March 6, 2018, accessed September 2018)

There are biological differences in pain processing between the sexes.


I think it is imperative that we understand the differences in the way pain is experienced, reported, and treated as women. We desperately need more research on women’s health that focuses on intractable pain.

However, everyone is vulnerable when it comes to chronic pain. We all share the threats to our self-esteem and well-being when bias is present.

"Although pain is known to be prevalent across society, reliable data are lacking on the full scope of the problem, especially among those currently underdiagnosed and undertreated, including racial and ethnic minorities; people with lower levels of income and education; women, children, and older people; military veterans; surgery and cancer patients; and people at the end of life; among others."

Institutes of Medicine Report, 2011, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research

That report was in 2011. It’s unfortunate, but the dialogue in 2018 has not improved, in fact, it has gotten much worse. Now everyone is discriminated against…


I always like to end on an encouraging note. It is out of adversity that opportunity exists. Use this time to raise awareness. Send a note, tag the CDC, NIH, and your congressional representatives in a tweet. You can find contact information and other helpful information in the Advocates Corner tab at the top of this page.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer,

it sings because it has a song."


Additional Reading:

Coming soon: Brain Under Siege: Centralization, Chronic Pain, and Fibromyalgia (watch for it here.)

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

BCG Fibromyalgia Vaccine Trials Receive FDA Approval

As I stated in a blog I wrote in July (2018), the FM/a® Test is making a huge impact on the way fibromyalgia is diagnosed and now it is being used for very important research into the cause and treatment of our symptoms.

https://fmtest.com/ - treatment

In April of 2017, I reported on a press release.  Excerpts:

EpicGenetics to detect fibromyalgia disease-specific gene markers. Additionally, Bruce Gillis, M.D., CEO of EpicGenetics, has made a research gift to the Immunobiology Laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital directed by Denise Faustman, M.D., Ph.D., to continue its robust clinical research regarding a direct treatment for fibromyalgia. 

The FM/a® Test is an FDA-compliant blood test that diagnoses fibromyalgia by identifying the presence of specific white blood cell abnormalities that have been documented to exist in these patients…

Based upon the findings of [Whole-Exome genetic] testing and once treatment protocols have received regulatory and institutional approvals, FM/a® Test positive patients will be invited to participate in a fibromyalgia-specific vaccine clinical trial to reverse the biology of fibromyalgia…

Today, I would to share with you “…the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the clinical trial of the BCG vaccine to treat fibromyalgia.”

Dr. Bruce Gillis, CEO of Epicgenetics, says, "This trial has the potential to impact the biology of fibromyalgia and now with clinical testing, it will be determined over the next four years whether this vaccine has clinical validity, as well.  Since the generic BCG vaccine is affordable and safe, the clinical trial introduction of this vaccine will perhaps transform the live of the patients who currently have no other direct treatments available to combat this very debilitating disease."

These are exciting times thanks to Dr. Gillis and others who desire to do away with the same labels and stereotypes once suffered by those with SLE (Lupus) and MS (multiple sclerosis) prior to having technology that allows physicians to make a diagnose. Because of his generosity and persistence, despite the naysayers supported by Big Pharma, we will get answers to some very important questions.

1.     Are there genetic factors that can identify the risk of developing fibromyalgia, like the BRCA gene indentifies breast cancer risk?
2.     Can the immune cell dysfunction found in fibromyalgia patients using the FM/a Test be treated with an old, safe, and cheap vaccine that is showing promise as a treatment for type-1 diabetes, and nearly irradiated tuberculosis?

This important, responsible randomized, double blind clinical trial could result in restoring the quality of life for those of us with fibromyalgia. The trial will be over four years. So, if you would like to be a candidate,


You will also find answers to frequently asked questions, a brochure to download, personal testimonies, access to peer-reviewed medical publications, and a scrolling list of insurance companies known to cover the test (at the bottom of the page). In addition, there is plenty of information to answer questions like why me, and how do I know if I am a candidate for the FM/a Test?  If you have more questions, you are encouraged to give their staff a call.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

PAINS Project Moves to Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM)

A mission to transform the way pain is perceived, judged and treated.



I can’t think of a better time than Pain Awareness Month to make the following announcement.

As many of you know, I have had the pleasure of sharing information and participating in the Center for Practical Bioethics initiative, the PAINS Project. I have encouraged you to join me. My participation has allowed me to connect with many wonderful, caring people and organizations that have been an integral part
Myra, Jan Chambers (NFMCPA), and myself
2012 PAINS Conference
of PAINS, Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy, spearheaded by my friend Myra Christopher. Myra has an innate ability to connect people, serve on their behalf, and I think those who know her would agree a stubbornness to accept the status quo. Her service to others is exemplified in her work. Myra has retired, but her vision and her work will continue.

I have also shared a great deal with you from Bob Twillman, Executive Director at the Academy of Integrative Pain Management. That is because we share the same objectives and values that reflect patient centered care. I cannot think of a better organization to take the PAINS Project under their wing. The AIPM has been actively engaged with the Center for Practical Bioethics initiative since the very beginning. Forward we go…


Statements from the Center for Practical Bioethics and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management on the transition of the PAINS Project (Effective August 1, 2018)

John G. Carney, President/CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics

The leadership that AIPM has exhibited in the complex arena of pain care treatment ensures that the investment the Center has made over the last decade will continue and flourish. The Academy’s commitment to excellence in interdisciplinary, patient-centered and evidence-based care with virtually every stakeholder group provides the confidence the Center needed in transitioning our work as Myra Christopher retires.

Those living with chronic pain rely on strong, respected and accomplished organizations to advance person-centered, integrative models of care by uniting clinicians in the fight against chronic pain. AIPM fits that profile and we are pleased and grateful that AIPM has agreed to honor the mission of the PAINS project and the decade long charitable efforts of the Center in this duty of care to vulnerable patients.

Clay Jackson, President of the Board of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management

At AIPM, we are grateful for the tremendous work that has been accomplished by everyone involved in the PAINS Project, and we feel that important milestones such as the publication of the National Pain Strategy would have been impossible to achieve without their commitment to patient advocacy and sound medical evidence.

As the only professional organization comprising members of every discipline that treats persons with pain, AIPM is uniquely positioned to continue to serve as the central repository of information regarding best practices in integrative pain care, and as a powerful force for advocating for making those treatments available to all patients. 

Please take a few minutes to read “Building Cathedrals: PAINS Transition to the Academy of Integrative Pain Management.” The brief will tell you how and why the PAINS Initiative was established in 2011, give an account on the opioid conundrum, what the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force is, and more.


With financial support from PAINS, the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC), and the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management, AIPM convened the first Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress in October 2017. This first-of-its-kind meeting brought together more than 75 participants from more than 50 organizations, representing professional societies covering the full scope of licensed and certified healthcare providers, patient advocacy organizations, governmental agencies, private payers, and other important stakeholders. In a monumental task, these disparate parties agreed on a consensus definition of comprehensive integrative pain management, one that closely mirrors a definition previously offered in a PAINS policy brief:

Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management includes biomedical, psychosocial, complementary health, and spiritual care. It is person-centered and focuses on maximizing function and wellness. Care plans are developed through a shared decision-making model that reflects the available evidence regarding optimal clinical practice and the person’s goals and values…

PAINS’ six-year experience with its Citizen/Leaders Advisory Group demonstrates the strength of character, stamina, and ingenuity of chronic pain sufferers and their family caregivers. Those who have advised leaders of the PAINS Project are not only committed to helping themselves but also to helping others who cannot engage in reform efforts because of physical limitations—those who are often isolated, stigmatized and falsely accused of being drug seekers. This perception must change. As recent media is beginning to tell stories of chronic pain sufferers as well as those of people living with opioid use disorders which have dominated media coverage for several years, stereotypes are beginning to be dispelled, and ultimately these narratives will fuel reform efforts…

[comment: I was gifted with the opportunity to be an inaugural participant of the PAINS-KC patient leadership group thanks to the encouragement of Myra Christopher.] 

You will still find the PAINS Project at www.PAINSproject.org

Be sure to bookmark the new social media handles.

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Day in the Rockies© by Celeste Cooper

Deer, can I come to dinner?

I find great comfort in nature. For me, it’s an inspiring place to be. I am afforded many opportunities to use my questionable skills as an amateur photographer and poet. On our respite in the Rockies this season, I was inspired to write this poem. I wrote it on August 8, 2018, exactly ten years to the day that we received word while camping in Buena Vista, Colorado that my mother had passed away. Mom and I shared the love of the Rockies and I would call her (when we had a signal) and recreate our adventure by sharing the sounds, textures, meadows, wild life sightings, and grandeur the Rockies bring. I would read her the poems I write about this land for which we shared such great respect. This one is dedicated to my mom.

A Day in the Rockies©

A kaleidoscope of depth shining through the forest connects all that is right.
The sun’s rising casts warmth bringing life from the shadows of night.

Morning is chorused by a diverse symphony as birds claim their territory
Among the limbs of pine, fir, and aspen, they perch in harmonious glory.

Tree locusts straining against the wind to be heard brings harmony in dissonance
Given homage by lodgepole pines that know cacophony is their innocence.

Carpeted in yellow, red, and purple, the vale shares wonders in its landscape.
Voices echo, thrills, chirps, grunts, and thunder all a color of the great escape.

The octagon of space shouts gleeful opportunities, cravings of senses—a tease.
Summer’s grass rich with character; smell the flavor as fronds drum to the breeze.

A black sky alive with twinkles and a moment of falling stars, I request,
Because tending the great power of a campfire puts my soul to rest.

In thunder of creation, the Rockies give grace, and quietly the forest speaks,
And the moon whispers, “Rest now creatures of the day”; it’s time to sleep.

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Pained Ink Slayer Series: 4 Ways to Power Up Your Positivism

Shameless Soaring(C) from Celeste's Photography
I write and advocate as a way of coping, and as a result, I am constantly learning new ways to avoid the pitfalls of negative thoughts. That’s because there is power in positive thinking. It not only helps us feel better emotionally, it promotes our physical health too. So, what four things can we do to spiff up our attitude and claim our stake in the power of positivism


When things seem out of perspective, they probably are. That’s when we find the value of focus.


“When you get into a tight place and it seems you can’t go on, hold on, for that’s just the place and the time that the tide will turn.”
—Harriet Beecher Stowe

We broaden our perspective when we focus on positive outcomes; negative thoughts limit our thinking. For instance, if we focus on success, we immediately gain perspectives that empower us to seek solutions. I wrote about this in my blog, The Setting, the Shutter, and the Power of Resolution.

I find, focus can work in other ways too. As I title my photographs, I think of how I felt when I took the picture. I think of how I was able to use light and speed to focus on minute details I would otherwise miss with the naked eye. 

And, get this; even stress can be a positive thing if it allows us to focus. Good stress can motivate us to do positive things. But proceed with caution, because we can lose focus if we become overwhelmed with anxiety.


Did you know if we give thanks every day, we give power to our thinking? Investigators of a paper published in the Journal of Research and Personality looked at two longitudinal studies regarding gratitude and found that "overall gratitude seems to directly foster social support, and to protect people from stress and depression."

Dr. Deepak Chopra explains the power of gratitude. He says, “When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.” He offers us a few powerful gratitude practices for us to try at The Chopra Center.


The words we use not only reflect our cognition; they also affect how we deal with our emotions and even our physical pain. To conquer feelings associated with pain, we can use power words to improve our inner dialogue. Here are a few action words that improve self-reflection when used with I AM:

·        overjoyed
·        decisive
·        peaceful
·        devoted

What power words can I exchange today to improve the way I talk to myself?”

Writing an “I AM” poem from a positive perspective provides a self-awareness that makes a special connection to our soul.


I am enriched as a person by the relationships
I have developed as the result of illness.

Writing and speaking affirmatively provides light in the darkness of chronic pain and illness. You can read more on Making the Best of Affirmations, here


Sometimes, we hold on too tight to our past relationships, previous levels of functioning, hurtful comments, mistakes, or personal struggles. This can be damaging to our well-being... Are we resisting change or embracing it? Do we exhaust ourselves by grieving our past capabilities or resist chronic pain as a reality? Are we fretting over something we might have done differently? … Keeping a firm grip on our past is not helpful. The power comes from letting go and embracing change.


"There's an important difference between giving up and letting go."
—Jessica Hatchigan, author

When we learn to let go of things we cannot change, our time is free to focus on things that we can do. We acquire cerebral space that will be better used when crowded with positive thoughts, gratitude, and acceptance.

Additional reading:

Watch for my ProHealth article about how we can manage chronic pain and invisible illness by reflecting on words from the wise. Here is a link to my profile page. https://www.prohealth.com/library/bloggers/celeste-cooper 

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
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