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About Us App Development First Person Parenting

Why did a psychologist who studies families develop an app for tracking pain?

The fact that the 1step2life app grew completely out of our experience is a family is so deeply ingrained into the fibre of me being that I forget to tell people about it. Hence this post. I was asked for information about 1step2life by the editors of MyChronicBrain – an online magazine and newsletter for […]

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Neuroscience Pain Physiology Treatment Options

Pain and the TMJ: It’s complicated!

It’s really sort of amazing how complicated the working of the jaw is and how little we even think about chewing and swallowing until something goes wrong. I became interested in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and its related dysfunctions a couple of years ago when my mother took a really bad fall. She got a […]

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Caring for People in Pain First Person

Reminders Of Progress

It’s been discouraging lately. Things seem better. Classes finished. Social life opening up. Exercise improving. But the setbacks still get you. The mourning for where you think you should be instead of where you really are. That’s where I was today. Until I got into my car. I opened the back door. The dog jumped […]

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Neuroscience Pain Physiology Pain Rehabilitation

How does multi-disciplinary pain treatment work?

Understanding pain helps people understand why they feel the way they do. It can be part of a multi-disciplinary approach to treating chronic pain. Here, I talk about the bio-psycho-social model of pain, focusing on different parts of the pain process and how they can be modified. I gave this talk on May 17, 2021 […]

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Caring for People in Pain First Person Parenting Self Care

Chronically Ill Teen? Fighting the Dread

I remember that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every Sunday afternoon. Sunday at 3:00 was youth orchestra. When my son first developed migraine disease, attacks came like clockwork. Every Sunday around 2:30, he’d begin to yawn. Then the auras would start. I’d see him start wincing from light and then, just as […]

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Pain Physiology Treatment Options

SPG Blocks

The previous post, Ganglia, Facial Nerves, & the SPG, described ganglion structure and function and the relationship of the SPG (sphenopalatine ganglion) and how it’s related to other facial nerves. The SPG is is a focal point for two cranial nerves, covering from the temples forward, down through the jaw, and back to the ears. […]

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Neuroscience Pain Physiology

Ganglia, Facial Nerves, & the SPG

Neurons are made up of cell bodies and finger-like dendrites. A ganglion is a clustered bundle of nerve cell bodies and associated dendrites assembled together to accomplish a discrete function.  For example, the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is located deep between the eyes. Among its many functions are regulating blood flow in the turbinates and facial […]

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First Person Neuroscience Resources

Raynaud’s Syndrome

The first time I noticed I had Raynaud’s was in the kitchen. My hands felt kind of funny and I looked down and they were green. Not a little green. Like GREEN. And entirely numb. I started to move them and they completely spasmed. No pain. Just bright green hands that were spasming. Then they […]

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Pain Physiology

Mind the Gap: Neurons & Synapses

Migraine disease, fibromyalgia, long-COVID, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other chronic medical conditions are all caused by problems in how the nervous system functions. All medications for controlling pain work by changing how nerves – and particularly how neurotransmitters and synaptic gaps – work. So how DO they work? This short introduction provides basic information […]

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Pain Physiology

The Trigeminal Nerve

When we think of nerves going up to and down from the brain, everyone knows about the spinal column. But there are also twelve pairs of nerve bundles that exit the bottom of the skull directly that have nothing to do with the spinal column. These are called cranial nerves.  Cranial nerves are involved with […]

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Pain Physiology Pain Rehabilitation Scientific Research

Pain Is In Your Head. It’s Still Real.

Pain is invisible. That means any time, any place, someone can just kick you in the stomach by telling you that your pain is ‘all in your head’. That’s why it is so important for the people we love to believe us when we describe what we feel and it’s why we so value medical […]

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Pain Physiology Scientific Research

Why the Definition of Pain Matters

In July 2020, the International Society for the Study of Pain redefined pain. It doesn’t sound like a big deal. We all know what pain is, right? Not something that would take a bunch of scientists several years consulting with many different stakeholders. But it is. Here is what they wrote: Pain is: “an unpleasant […]

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1step Comics First Person Self Care

Overwhelmed By Socializing?

Two weeks post-vaccine, it’s been liberating getting out of the house. Even walks in the woods seem freer, less worried about folks strolling by mask-less and much too close. I am excited about chatting with folks at the dog park – still socially distanced and faces obscured. It felt ridiculously friendly to have a face-to-masked […]

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Caring for People in Pain Self Care

Keeping What’s Good About This Crazy Year

This year of COVID has been a year of loss. Loved ones. First dates and coffee with old friends. Shared worship. Beach parties. From the profound to the trivial. For many who live with complex illnesses or who struggle to get out of the house and make it to school or work, it’s also been […]

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Caring for People in Pain Parenting

Challenge, Support, & Love

Helping my son get out of bed when he was in pain was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I knew how much he hurt. But we both knew that the worst mistake we’d made when he first got sick was to let him withdraw from the world and into his bed. The light hurt […]

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Caring for People in Pain Pain Rehabilitation Parenting

How Do Doctors Build Trust?

Doctors, patients, and caregivers all bring something different to the table. All contribute to healing. The patient has the lived experience. It is their body. Their life. It is their decision what they decide to do and take from the relationship in the hope of moving forward. The caregiver brings support. Often – especially when […]

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Caring for People in Pain Parenting

When Your Child Says They’re In Pain, Believe Them.

One of the hardest things about invisible illnesses is that they’re – um – invisible. No one can see them. Only the person who has them knows they exist. The most common chronic pain conditions in children and teens – headache, migraine, gastrointestinal problems, skeletal issues – are trivialized. That’s pretty awful. Anyone, anytime, can […]

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Caring for People in Pain Parenting

Supporting Parents of Teens & Children In Pain

I’m reading a book called The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. It’s a fantasy – a parable really – about regret and depression and building a better life. Sounds odd for a book I picked because it was billed as ‘a feel good novel’ about a life well lived, doesn’t it? Did I mention that […]

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Caring for People in Pain Parenting

Balancing Challenge & Support

Urie Bronfenbrenner was one of the giants of 20th century developmental psychology. One of the founders of HeadStart, Urie had many favorite sayings about raising children. In additional to studying children for more than half a century, he also had five of his own. One person who is crazy about you One thing that fascinated […]

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First Person Parenting

Quieting Your Inner Voices So You Can Hear Your Child’s Pain

Nothing is more distressing than listening to a baby cry. I’m not just saying that about me. There’s a lot of research on the topic. When we hear a child in distress all we want to do is make it stop. Their hurt makes us hurt. I don’t think that ends when they’ve grown. I […]

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Caring for People in Pain Parenting

How To Help When Your Child’s in Pain: Listen

When my child’s in pain, my first instinct is to try to fix it. That’s my job right? But it’s not always what they need. Sometimes they need to vent and blow off steam. This is hard for us. It’s worse for them. If we jump in too fast we’re not giving them permission to […]

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Diet and nutrition

Tyramine In Tiny Bites

I’m a professor and admit to being a bit long winded. I was asked to pull together information on tyramine into small bites so it was easier to read and digest. So here we go! And if you want the long version, please read It Tyramine Intolerance Triggering Your Brain Fog, Headaches, and Vomiting? Living […]

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Diet and nutrition

Living With a Low Tyramine Diet: Shopping & Cooking

What is tyramine? Basics Tyrosine is one of the ‘big twenty” amino acids used to build proteins in animals, plants, bacteria and effectively all living organisms. Tyramine is a natural break-down product of the amino acid tyrosine.  There are 3 main ways high tyramine foods get into our diet. Some foods, like soy beans, snow peas, […]

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Diet and nutrition Self Care

Is Tyramine Intolerance Triggering Your Brain Fog Headaches & Vomiting?

Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid present in many common foods. Cheese, sausage, lentils, snow peas, and soy. Deli meats, sauerkraut, nuts, wine, and beer. Yogurt and Cheetos. All have high levels of tyramine. Because tyramine occurs when proteins age, virtually ALL leftovers are high in tyramine. For example, I might cook fresh chicken […]

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1step Comics Pain Rehabilitation Sleep

Sleep: The Final Fronteir

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Diet and nutrition Self Care

What’s This About Gluten?

It was my cousin who was laughing on Facebook. “They’ve taken this whole fad way too far! Now they’re selling gluten-free dog food! Idiots!”   Admittedly it looks ridiculous. As far as I know, dogs do not get celiac disease. But the people feeding dogs that handle the dog food do. I should know. Allergies, […]

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First Person Pain Physiology Pain Rehabilitation Resources

We’re on Spotify!

Are you a fan of podcasts? Would you rather listen to the 1step2life blog than read? We will be podcasting many of our essays. Follow us on Breaker, Google Podcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, and Anchor (RSS). We will be adding new content as it comes out and slowly recording our catalog.

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Caring for People in Pain First Person Parenting Self Care

Can Stoicism Make You A Happier Parent?

Confession time I feel guilty. Why? Because there are times I feel I’m failing at my most important job: being a mom. My son hurts all the time – and I can’t protect him. He is having a hard time transitioning gracefully to adulthood. He struggled to make it through high school – it’s tough […]

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Pain Physiology Pain Rehabilitation

Acute Pain Protects Chronic Pain Harms

It’s hard to believe that pain is ever good. But it is. A friend developed a condition where she was able to move her lower body, but couldn’t feel pain and had no sensation. The biggest danger she faced was injuring herself because her warning system – pain – didn’t work. Chronic pain, on the […]

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Diet and nutrition Self Care

Are you drinking TOO MUCH water?

Hydration is important for everyone. Folks with chronic pain get really tired of being asked if they’re drinking enough water. I know my son does. But how much you should drink is a more complicated question than it first appears. And important enough to think about before rolling your eyes when asked – one more […]

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Pain Physiology Scientific Research Self Care

Are migraines caused by an echo in the brain?

Many types of pain – including migraines, amplified regional pain syndrome, and fibromyalgia – are caused by a failure of the nervous system. A negative spiral Acute pain protects us from tissue damage – we pull back from flames because we feel pain. Unfortunately, this healthy system can backfire. Many chronic pain conditions are caused […]

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Pain Rehabilitation Self Care Stress Reduction

Want To Learn To Breathe?

Learning to breathe, meditate, or do biofeedback doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t require you to leave your house. It’s BREATHING and focusing. It’s what people did in cold medieval churches and in Tibetan monestaries. It’s what I learned to do – and got me through – labor! […]

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Self Care Sleep Stress Reduction

Learning Biofeedback Doesn‘t Have to Be Hard

Biofeedback is a set of techniques that allow you to exert conscious control over what are normally involuntary biological functions. For example, consciously slowing your breathing and heart rate are common forms of biofeedback. With more practice, you can learn to increase circulation in your hands and warm them up. You can become more conscious […]

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Caring for People in Pain First Person Self Care

Assemble A Rescue Kit For Your Next Pain Spike

I walked into my son’s room this morning – it was immediately obvious it was one of ‘those’ days. Light sensitivity. Migraine spike. Fog. You know the gig. So I asked my usual self-care questions: Did you take your rescues? Water? Salt? Magnesium oil? Daily meds? “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” No eye roll (thank […]

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Resources

Follow @1step2life on Instagram!

Follow @1step2life on Instagram for information, inspiration, and conversation.

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First Person Pain Rehabilitation Self Care Stress Reduction

Biofeedback: A Skill Not A Pill

Biofeedback is a skill, not a pill. Unlike medications, it is something that you need to practice between sessions and learn to make it effective. I’ve heard people only try it once or twice and then give up because they got a migraine anyways. It’s not something that works right away. You need to practice […]

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Caring for People in Pain First Person Self Care Stress Reduction

Get Help To Learn To Help Yourself

Friday, after an appointment with my psychiatrist at Emory, it occurred to me that this month marks 13 years of therapy and treatment. I would almost describe those 13 years as an “After” period, denoting a new phase in my life, because it has been so transformative. Before I finally reached out for help, I […]

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Self Care Stress Reduction

How can you use biofeedback?

Biofeedback has many potential applications. Short term, you can embed breathing and conscious relaxation and bodily control into your everyday life. This changes amygdala functioning to reduce pain and can help you foster mindfulness. I combine biofeedback with meditation and sometimes binaural sound to manage my migraines. I can only rarely get rid of them, […]

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Self Care Sleep

Weighted Blankets: For Better or Worse?

Like many people over the last few years, I invested in weighted blankets for members of my family. I’d read they are particular good for improving sleep and reducing anxiety. Because I had always slept markedly better with heavy quilts, that made sense to me. I followed the guidelines for buying them: 5-10% of your […]

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Resources Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

Why is Sleep So Important? Sleep is your body’s way of letting the brain rest. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night has a number of positive effects: improved concentration, metabolism, immune system functioning, reduced depression, and inflammation. Lack of sleep can block signals in the nociceptive pathways, which increases the perception of […]

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First Person Self Care

What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a technique used to train yourself to control your body’s functions. Examples being your breathing, heart rate and tempurature. It’s really great for handling chronic pain. With practice it can be used to help identify what is causing your pain and I’ve even been using it to help turn off migraines when I […]

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First Person Pain Rehabilitation Stress Reduction

Biofeedback: Another Tool in Your Kit

Chronic pain is something that can be treated in many ways. When I first got migraines, they were sudden and devastating. Within six months I went from perfectly healthy to migraines that lasted days to a week at a time. They were incredibly painful. I was unable to move and barely even able to go […]

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1step Comics Caring for People in Pain Pain Rehabilitation Scientific Research

The Three Components of Action

Physics has gravity (it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law). Psychology has learning theory. The basic ideas behind learning theory are deceptively simple: If you are rewarded for something you will do it more often. If you are punished for something, you will do do it less often. If something bad is happening […]

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1step Comics Caring for People in Pain First Person Resources

Making Change Happen

Last year, I wrote an essay called What’s Working? A 5-Minute Exercise for a Better Life for Psychology Today. Although everything else seems to have changed since last year, the ideas in that essay have not.  Today, I want to talk about using it to take a few steps forward that will make your next year better.  […]

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First Person

The Habits of Pain

It’s hard to find that balance between pushing too hard and giving up. But if you want things to change, laying down new habits is a start.

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First Person Pain Rehabilitation

Walking Dogs In The Rain

People who write love songs about walking in the rain don’t live in Ohio. In December. I do. I’m just going to say, cold rain is not my idea of romantic. Or comfortable. Miserable. It does come to mind when I think of the word ‘miserable’. I bring this up, because I was thinking about […]

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About Us Caring for People in Pain

News 5 Cleveland Talks About 1step2life

We were very excited that Taneisha Cordell of News5 Cleveland, an ABC affiliated covered the development of 1step2life. Development of the app was inspired by my son, Sean’s, struggles with intractable persistent pain. He talks here about his struggles and how 1step2life has helped him feel empowered to take back his life. For their full […]

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Resources

504s & IEPS: Children Have The Right To Go To School

Although there are many things about living with a chronic condition that are tough for children and their parents, school is one of the most frustrating. This is a brief introduction to IEPs and 504s – the two major legal mechanisms governing the provision of educational services to students with disabilities in the United States. […]

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First Person Pain Rehabilitation Stress Reduction

Tiny Steps Towards Reducing Stress

Some days are worse than others. That’s just how it works. You can wake up today feeling refreshed and inspired to put your best foot forward. You can do all of your recommended exercises, eat all the “right” foods, think all the “right” thoughts, and still have pain flare-ups throughout your day. We can never […]

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Pain Rehabilitation Parenting Scientific Research

Following Doctor’s Orders

When teens don’t believe parents or doctors have the right to set rules, they don’t follow them.