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Lessons in pain management from Bonaventure Health Fair

Of the Keizertimes

Shelly Carlson never envisioned herself as a director at a pain clinic.

Carlson’s background is in psychology and executive coaching, but experiences in her immediate family provided insight into how managing pain (or not) can affect someone’s entire life.

“When we end up in new normal, we have to learn how to live our lives in new circumstances,” Carlson told attendees in a meeting room a Bonaventure at Keizer Station Tuesday, May 8. Bonaventure hosted several guest lecturers as part of a free Health & Wellness Fair covering topics such as managing pain, foot care, therapeutic stretching and more.

There are two types of pain, Carlson said, acute pain, which lasts as long it it takes for the body to heal, and chronic, which seems never-ending at times and has the potential to transform someone into a person even they don’t recognize.

As an example, Carlson referenced a family member who, at age 61, was laid off from a job that made him feel valued and worthwhile, and granted him space and capacity to pursue the other values he cherished, like justice, athletics, and being an engaged part of his family.

“When he was younger he would get cluster headaches, but he found a way to move toward the things he valued in spite of the pain,” Carlson said. “When he felt he couldn’t move toward his other values, his headaches got worse, he got angry, resentful, his confidence decreased, he felt isolated and became unforgiving.”

He also began frequenting casinos, Carlson said.

“When you are dealing with chronic pain, you want to look for ways to correct one negative habit each day, like be engaged instead of isolated,” Carlson said. “It’s looking at the steps you are willing to take everyday, and being willing to pursue a new outlook.”

She said when visits to a primary care physician stop yielding results, that is when a pain clinic, like Mid-Valley Pain Clinic, might provide new perspectives.

“It’s about working with your pain and creating expansive environment for talking about pain,” Carlson said.