Mercy Health Center offers a unique support group for patients, families and friends who have a loved one suffering with chronic pain. For one Mercy patient, the support group not only helped her cope with her chronic pain, but also changed her life.
About four years ago, 30-year-old Marcie Taylor began experiencing chronic back pain from a hereditary degenerative disc disease. In her search to find answers to cope with her pain, Taylor found Mercy Health Centerís Pain Pals.
"Mercyís Pain Pals helped me learn I could accept my pain and do something about it," said Taylor. "Even though my disease is incurable, I donít have to let it ruin my life. The support of others in the program helped me deal with my disc disease."
The 14-week class Ė every Thursday from February 17 to May 19 Ė follows a program outlined in the book, Managing Pain Before It Manages You, written by Margaret A. Caudill, M.D., Ph.D. Each chapter identifies methods participants can learn in order to manage, function and cope with chronic pain. The group will learn how to understand, effectively communicate and take control of their pain, as well as learn about proper nutrition and how to network with individuals in similar situations.
"Pain Pals helped me manage my pain by encouraging me to keep a daily journal and record what I ate, how I felt, activities I did, and rate my pain on a scale of zero to 10," said Taylor. Along with helping her deal with her pain, the group helped her communicate better. "They taught me how to communicate with my doctor, husband and people in every day life," she said. "They helped me identify my pain and start owning it."
During the program, the group hears from everyone from pharmacists to nutritionists to physical therapists. "Our pharmacist looks at the different medications each participant it taking and talks about how medications can affect pain, by either lessening or increasing pain," said Juliane Chainakul, RN, CNS, Mercy pain management coordinator. "A nutritionist also talks with the group about how what you eat affects your body and pain level."
For Taylor, Pain Pals has changed her life. "I joined physical therapy, changed my diet and joined the YMCA," she said. "By putting all these things Iíve learned into practice, Iíve made a difference in my pain." Taylor also put into practice a breathing exercise she learned from the support group. "If your pain begins to get bad, relaxation rhythmic breathing is one thing you can do to help reduce pain," added Chainakul.
Pain Pals is more than just a program, itís a support system. "This group helps people find support in the community," said Chainakul. "We see so many people suffering from chronic pain who need to find different avenues to manage their pain. We started this support group more than a year ago and itís still likely the only one of itís kind in the state. Itís really unique to offer something like this."
Limited to 15 individuals, the support group meets every Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Mercy Conference Center. Cost is $50 per family (includes patient and additional person). Book purchase is optional. To register, call Mercy Health Direct at 405-752-3600.