Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Brain in Pain: Garbage or Dessert? by Celeste Cooper, RN

Neuroscience suggests that the conversation we have with our pain affects how our brain reacts to it. Of course, we can't get a grip on positive thinking when in the throes of intractable migraine, nor can we expect to have the where-with-all when we are having a significant flare of any chronic pain condition. However, we might want to reconsider the unnecessary garbage we throw at our brain when our pain is treated sufficiently.

In all the cerebral glory it can muster, the brain tries to tend to pain in the usual ways. Whether pain is acute or chronic, the brain is affected by our judgments and feelings. There is a structure in the brain called the limbic system, which is in charge of this phenomenon. As an emergency room nurse, I have witnessed the differences in patient's reactions to injuries. Those who do not catastrophize their wound tend to do better. When we personally experience an injury, we resist the temptation to look because once we do; we know we will actualize the pain associated with it.

What choice do you think our brain would make if it had the option of communicating with Debbie or Dog Downer compared to Mahatma Gandhi, Maya Angelou, or Helen Keller? Already bombarded by pain messages, the last thing our brain wants to hear is a negative dialogue about how awful something has become. We have the opportunity to reprogram our feelings and our brain. It's as simple, and as complicated, as that.

Great care must be extended to the patient in pain. Pain is very real to those of us experiencing it and there are times when pain is the boss, no matter how much we wish otherwise. Sometimes, healthcare providers become part of the emotional conundrum so many patients in pain experience. It is a legitimate expectation to have our pain validated; it is just as important as our own personal experience and reactions to living with chronic pain. When we feel that we are mistrusted or that we can think away the problem that is causing our pain in the first place, then the negative dialogue begins. We must not let that happen; explore new relationships. We all deserve to be treated with the same kindness I am suggesting we give our body.

I will embrace a considerate dialogue with my body because "it can't hurt." What a metaphor. Watch out brain, here comes dessert.

Updated Post Script

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain ProAdvocate

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sneak Peek - Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, Winter Devotions by Celeste Cooper, RN and Jeff Miller, PhD

On Launch Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, Winter Devotions was #1 in Kindle Store, Pain Medicine and #3 Nonfiction, Science.

ImPress Media 13: 978-0615924052
ISBN: 978-0615924052

Here is a sneak peek!

"Vision without action is a daydream.
Action without vision is a nightmare."  

~Japanese Proverb

eWinter f
Day Fifty-six

It’s healthy to let our mental faculties have a vacation from daily stressors and productivity. But, what can we do to calm down this process when it wants to take on a mind of its own?

There will be times when pain wants to be boss no matter what we do to ignore it, but there are times when we do have the power as negotiator.

Here are some tips:

  •          It takes practice to be mindful.
  •          Diversion works so pick up a hobby.
  •          Guided imagery and meditation are helpful.

You will find that being mindful of your pain, and giving it the tender loving care that it deserves is useful. Negative thoughts regarding pain ramp up parts of our brain that enhance and amplify the pain experience.

How can I redirect pain when it gets bossy?



“This lovely book of devotions is rich with insight and practical suggestions for any one with chronic pain. It is filled with inspirational and healing words dealing with topics from nutrition, exercise and sleep to relating successfully to your doctor.”

Susan E. Opper, MD, Medical Director of Saint Luke’s Pain Management Services, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.

“I love the very idea of “Winter Devotions”.   The struggle of living with chronic pain is compounded for many by the winter months when it is cold, damp, and often gloomy.  Bones ache, joints hurts, and the spirit sometimes become depressed. This wonderful book provides a tool to help with those issues.  The quotes, photography and motivation of authors Celeste Cooper and Jeff Miller all bring much needed hope and relief.”

~Myra J. Christopher, Kathleen M. Foley Chair in Pain and Palliative Care at the Center for Practical Bioethics ( and Principal Investigator of the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy ( )

“Chronic pain is a tyrant that seeks to control every aspect of a person's life—body, mind, and spirit. Broken Body, Wounded Spirit offers pain sufferers’ guidance in fending off the tyrant and regaining control over their lives. Celeste and Jeff do a beautiful job of blending practical suggestions, inspirational quotes, and delightful seasonal images into daily nuggets of wisdom that uplift and fortify the body, mind, and spirit.”

Karen Lee Richards, Fibromyalgia Editor, ProHealth,, and Chronic Pain Health Guide, HealthCentral,

“Broken Body, Wounded Spirit is a warm and thoughtful prescription to honor oneself in the face of challenge, not just chronic pain. It is perfectly sprinkled with invaluable wisdom to address every aspect of wellbeing. This is a laugh out loud toolkit with humorous sayings, photos and lessons for lifestyle change bundled into a special 90-day guide to celebrate health.”

Lisa Marianni, RN, MBA, Consultant and previous Senior Director, Sharecare Provider Solutions in Atlanta, GA

Dealing with chronic pain can make us feel robbed of many choices.  We can succumb to ‘woe is me’ or we can work on self-management skills.  This book offers tips and tools which can be utilized to enable us to ‘participate in life’ rather than ‘watch it go by’ from the sidelines.  What will you choose?”

Orvie Prewitt, Program Coordinator – Kansas City Regional Arthritis Center, and a person living with chronic pain.

“As welcome as a spring breeze, this inspiring book series gently encourages fresh perspectives for living well with chronic pain or illness.  Whether pondering one day at a time or dancing between the pages, the insightful prose leads the reader to feelings of peaceful dignity.  A unique celebration of living harmoniously with the seasons of the year while rejuvenating ourselves physically and spiritually.  Thanks Celeste for sharing your sparkling love for life!”

Jan Favero Chambers, President/Founder of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association,"Your partner in tackling fibromyalgia and chronic pain."

"Anyone with chronic pain can and will be helped by reading and using this book as a tool. It is the perfect blend of inspiration and helpful information to guide people on their pain journey, in fact, as a person with pain; I have learned some important techniques that have helped me."

Paul Gileno, Founder/President, US Pain Foundation Inc. 

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
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