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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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! […]
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 […]
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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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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
When teens don’t believe parents or doctors have the right to set rules, they don’t follow them.
Note: I wrote this years ago, when my son’s migraines first when chronic. Much has changed in our lives. Sending him to school with his pain remains one of the hardest things my husband and I – and certainly our son – has ever had to do. But every single day he went – maybe […]
I write a lot about organizing, because I have too much to do and very few spoons to spare. I also know that if I don’t write things down, they spin around in my head and keep me from sleeping. If we try to keep everything in our head without an organizational system, we keep […]
Pain Rehab: Building Strength To Push Back Pain People living with pain are most successful at taking back their lives when they take an active role in their recovery. (That’s one of the reasons that 1step2life focuses on emotions, activities, and functioning.) For most of us, there is no ‘magic jelly bean’ that will suddenly […]
I was excited beyond words to be asked to present the 1step2life app to the team at the Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation program on Monday. These folks are my heroes. For all the pain and trauma that my son’s migraine disease has introduced into his life, we’ve been incredibly lucky to live close to […]
Why do I hurt all the time? Healthy pain is like a good guardian. It keeps you from hurting yourself and teaches you to stay safe. This type of pain is called ‘acute pain’. Unfortunately, sometimes the acute pain system becomes too sensitive and overprotective. When that happens, you perceive pain as if you were injured, […]
When we recognize ourselves in others we admire it allows us to imagine ourselves in a better future.
Platitudes can hurt people in pain just as much as illness.
Pain leads to depression. Depression leads to pain. The amygdala mediates it all.
Acceptance means holding both a painful now and a hopeful future in our minds· Death can be a harsh shock, as someone is ripped from us and is no longer present in our lives. It has a finality to it – that’s part of the shock and much of the pain. But it is real […]
Feeling pain is an essential function of the brain and nervous system. Healthy pain keeps you safe when you touch something hot. It tells you to stop when you’ve exercised and your heart and lungs aren’t providing your muscles with enough oxygen. It reminds you to move when you’ve been sitting too long. Chronic pain, […]
A mother’s despair This app began as a search for a tool. My son was in horrible pain – in bed, in the dark, barely holding on to school. When I looked at him, my first thought was always the same – How much pain is he in? Then I’d wonder if he’d taken his […]
The Daily Check In can help you prioritize what is important to you and build a healthier balance in your life.
Everyone’s pain is different and everyone is in a different place in their journey.
Focusing all your attention on one manageable area of sensation can drown out the sensation of pain.
How do you cope when things feel their worst? You can cry. Or laugh. Or curse.
Hydration is every doctor’s go to recommendation for anyone living with chronic pain. But it helps. Your cells can’t function properly without sufficient water. Not drinking enough causes pain all by itself that can’t be distinguished from pain due to illness. Plus – as I always tell my son – if you drink enough water, […]