i actually went back to attend my last week of how-to-be-a chronic pain class. The Monday found me in fear and trepidation, calling my hubby before class to say "i don't think i can do this!" He said, and rightly so, "if you just go in you'll probably be fine!" and i was. i guess i figured that in the land of Pretend and All Is Good that i'd have a tough time dealing with my grief. As it was the doctor, the nurse, and the psychologist all assured me i wasn't strange to grieve over a dog--the doc said, "they're part of the family" (true) and "you don't have to like it, you just have to do it" about grief. Think i'll quote him on that. i was pleasantly overwhelmed by their kindness.
The really really cool thing of the week, besides getting a nifty signed diploma of graduation, was inspired by a fill-in psychologist. The Wednesday "group" meeting was covered by the supervising psychologist of our usual young, sweet Dr G. He asked if any of us had questions, and went over the "This is what we can talk about, this is what we try to 'check'." Everyone was quiet, just looking at each other, or at the floor. He laughed and said, "Is this how it usually is in here?"
After a couple of tiny polite questions, i asked, "Can i ask you a question about the program itself?" He nodded. "Well, there's just stuff i don't get--like, today, Beverley said 'God bless you' to somebody who sneezed, and she got called out on it as 'helping.'" He leaned back in his chair and laughed. "Honestly, i just don't get why some of the things we're 'redirected' on are wrong."
He gave us the best talk on the sympathetic nervous system and the "Fight or Flight" syndrome, explaining how even positive comments can knock a person out of their neutral state into a state of heightened arrousal, which can also awaken their pain. Anyway, it was very comprehensive, and made the nurses' attempts at redirecting make some sense, in our positive as well as negative comments.
The psychologist asked me, "So, how have you seen the positive talk idea work in your regular life?" My response, "Honestly, i'll still in my regular life say the name of the movie and games 'Resident Evil," bringing T-shirt Boy awake--"My first day, right?" He had worn a shirt with the Umbrella Corporation on it, from that series on his first day. i had commented on it, since that's my son's favorite movie series ever, but when someone asked what movie or game it was from, when he said "Resident Evil" he was "redirected" on the word "evil." He's seen it as his personal mission to test the boundaries of T-shirt statements each day since.
"But on the other hand," i continued, "it's given me some freedom to tell people when i need to change the subject because i'm getting anxious due to what they're saying. And it's helped me see where times i think i'm helping somebody, i'm not AND i'm hurting me."
The doctor liked that.
At the end of the discussion, i said, "THIS is what i needed for all this to make sense! THIS needs to be part of everybody's experience in this class!" He laughed and said, "I'll take that suggestion to the powers that be." That made me happy, but on the Friday i got even more happy.
When i went to see the doctor on Friday, and mind you, this is the guy who heads up the program, he said, "We've taken the suggestion, and we're going to incorporate it into the program." i made some happy garbled noises, and danced my way out of the office. Then i graduated! Woo hoo!
i was proud of myself for returning to class, finding out that i could indeed do something when i thought i could not. And i was thrilled with the positive aspect of the whole "how your brain works" suggestion taken. i felt powerful for a day!
And now i'm home, and on my own, and tomorrow i will tell you the turn THAT has taken.