Chronic Pain Partners

As a chronic pain sufferer myself, I am all too aware of how greatly and adversely my pain effects the people around me.  And even though I try hard to minimise those effects, I know that often I fail miserably.  I read this article, written by a man whose wife is a chronic pain sufferer, and so much of this reads just like my life too.  Only I wouldn’t really describe the periods of pain elevation, as a ‘pain storm’… my pain doesn’t really get significantly worse, it’s mostly my ability to cope with the constant 7-8 I live with on a daily basis diminishes considerably with fatigue or when facing the unexpected (that is, if I find myself having to do something that mentally I haven’t ‘budgeted’ for).  It’s an interesting read and I wanted to be able to find it easily in the future so I’ve taken an excerpt from the article and reproduced it here.


Tips For Men on Supporting a Partner with Chronic Pain

Pete Beisner knows a lot about supporting a partner in pain. Here, he shares insights on how to take care of the person you love.

We will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary this week, and I can say without a doubt that despite the problems that come with periods of joblessness and raising two kids to maturity, the thing that has had the biggest influence on our marriage has been pain.

So, I have two sets of tips. The first set of tips is for supporting someone you love who has chronic pain. The second set of tips are practical suggestions for how to support a woman in an episode of critical pain, like just after she has had major surgery or a serious injury.

  1. I think that it is important to think of pain as your common enemy, not as a part of your wife or baggage that comes with her.
    It is something outside of both of you that impacts both of you and that can kill your marriage.
  2. If your wife is anything like mine, she will try to hide her pain from you.
    She does it for two reasons: one, she does not want to be a wuss or a whiner. Second, she knows that her in pain is distressing for those that she loves, so she hides it from us.
  3. Because women in chronic pain have to be good at ignoring their own pain, their maximum sneaks up on them and on you.
    Trust me when I say that you do not want to be surprised by your wife’s pain. The wall of pain will hit her hard, and if you are lucky she will end up snapping at your or the kids. If you are unlucky, she will collapse into sobs that will break your heart to hear. Before I learned to read the signs in my wife, it would seem like her breaking point would come out of nowhere. We tried to get her to tell us when she was coming up on her limit, but she only notices about 30 percent of the time, and that is after years of coaching and encouraging.
  4. To avoid a pain-storm, be on the look-out for non-verbal clues of increased pain.
    My wife who is normally a font of cheerful patter gets quieter the further into pain that she goes because she does not want her voice to betray her pain. She holds her body more rigid, trying not to limp and holds her breath, taking one long rasping breath for every three that I take. There is also a look of grim determination that settles in her eyes, even if she is smiling.
  5. When you note the non-verbal clues of increased pain, reflect them back to her.
    Ask that she put her pain on a scale from 1-10, but make note if she tends to tip to one side of the scale. My wife has had a C-section without anesthesia, so that is her 10. She rated a compound broken bone where I could see a jagged bone tip protruding through the skin of her ankle as a five. So know how she rates things. When you determine that she is in rising pain, encourage her to move towards a place where she can rest and take medication. Remind her how much the pain storm will cost her. If it is worth it for her to continue, then so be it. Do what you can to support her.
  6. Chronic pain does not mean that the person has the same level of pain every day or even at various times in the day.
    So encourage her to put the fun stuff first. If she has enough energy and pain relief to do a quick trip out and about, encourage her to go someplace fun rather than the grocery store
  7. Don’t let her “should” on herself—beat herself up for what she cannot do.
    Argue back when she expresses guilt or sets impossible expectations for herself. When my wife tells me that she is a bad mother because she couldn’t stand in the rain beside a soccer field, I remind her of all the other ways that she has been there for our kids. Encourage her to tell significant people in her life such as her boss and co-worker that her life is significantly impacted by pain. Remind her that stating the truth is not the same as complaining and it does not make her a whiner.
  8. One of my early ways of dealing with my wife’s chronic pain was to encourage my wife not to do things that caused her pain.Then I realized that if she avoided all activities that caused her pain, she would never do anything. Let her grit her teeth and get through pain for things that are important to her, even if it kills you to watch her do it. And trust your wife if she says that she wants to have sex even while in pain. Sometimes and in some women, arousal can do wonders to offer temporary relief from pain.
  9. Women in chronic pain are used to working through pain, distracting themselves, minimizing etc.
    They play mind games that help them get around it. But this means that they pay less attention to their bodies than other women do. In some cases, this makes it harder for the woman to get aroused. In my wife’s case, it makes her really really clumsy. I used to try to help her by saying things like “Your toes and nose should be pointed in the same direction as the location you are placing an object like a glass.” That really isn’t helpful. We have compromised: for things my wife knows are important to me, like lifting and carrying food, (I love her cooking and when it gets spilled all over the kitchen floor, I am in pain) she agrees as a favor to me to allow me to do those things. And, I keep plenty of Band-aids, ice packs and other things for the rest.
  10. The key thing to remember is that pain builds even while you are managing to ignore it.
    The longer your wife is in pain, the more of it she experiences and the less she can block it out. So what would be an objective level 5 pain your wife can block out to make it a level 2. But when she is no longer able to block it, it will come back as 6-8. Beware of this whiplash phenomenon.

The complete article – hints for dealing with acute pain issues and post operative pain can be found on the NAIDW website.

Recipe – Indian curried Chicken on Rice


1kg chicken thigh cutlets, skin removed
2 tablespoons mild Indian curry paste (see note)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups SunRice White Long Grain Rice
1/3 cup sultanas
1 granny smith apple, cut into 2cm pieces
1 medium tomato, cut into 1cm pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
Fresh coriander leaves and plain
Natural yoghurt, to serve

Step 1
Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Place chicken and curry paste in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Stir to coat chicken.

Step 2
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, in batches, turning, for 4 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate.

Step 3
Add onion to pan. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Add rice. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until rice is coated. Stir in sultanas, apple and tomato. Transfer mixture to a 10 cupcapacity, 25cm (base) round ovenproof dish. Arrange chicken over rice, pressing down gently. Pour over stock. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken cooked through.

Step 4
Top with coriander. Serve with yoghurt.

On second thoughts, fuck off with that coriander shit – no one likes it.

Steampunk NZ Cruise – Birthday Party!

We didn’t set out to have a cruise for my birthday, but by virtue of being a January Kid, it also just so happened that the dates everyone found easiest to take leave – being around Xmas time – also encompassed my birthday.  As I said earlier, BigSal took one look at the timings, recalled the Edwardian fabulousness of the Wheelhouse Bar and had declared that we would be having a Steampunk Birthday party for my birthday – which just happened to be the second formal night of our cruise.  All of us had our hastily made costumes, everyone had out quite a bit of effort into making something fun and steampunk-ish… we are not hardcore cosplayers for all our habitual medieval recreationist activities.  This whole thing is how I came to be boarding the ship with a hat box!  Yes, felt a bit absurd taking fancy hats on the cruise (though I am sure it was de rigeur back in the day), but there we were probably with so many extra suitcases to accommodate our steampunk frippery.  🙂

BigSal had been working with some of the ships staff to organise various things for us – she coordinated with the Wheelhouse Bar manager to corral some furniture to create a space for us, she liaised with the Hotel staff to arrange for a small buffet of canapés, she had discussions with Tim, the Cruise Director, arranged a photographer to pop up and take some professional portraits for us and threw a fantastic party!  I had the most marvellous birthday  😀  Was a fantastic time.  We made quite the spectacle as we moved about the ship from our pre-dinner canapés and champagne, out onto the decks for some photos and shuffleboard, then onto the dining rooms for formal dinner and Baked Alaska night.  It was a fantastic night and everyone had simply the most amazing time.

Steampunk Cruise 22 Steampunk Cruise 21 Steampunk Cruise 20 Steampunk Cruise 19 Steampunk Cruise 18 Steampunk Cruise 17 Steampunk Cruise 16 Steampunk Cruise 15 Steampunk Cruise 14 Steampunk Cruise 13 Steampunk Cruise 12 Steampunk Cruise 11 Steampunk Cruise 10 Steampunk Cruise 9 Steampunk Cruise 8 Steampunk Cruise 7 Steampunk Cruise 6 Steampunk Cruise 5 Steampunk Cruise 4 Steampunk Cruise 3 Steampunk Cruise 2 Steampunk cruise 1The ship’s staff were very helpful in assisting us in arranging this special event for our large group party.  Love the Sea Princess!  She has become my favourite ship so far.


Steampunk NZ Cruise – Milford Sound

Today is effectively a sea day broken up with some beautiful scenic cruising.  Slept in a bit… possibly thanks to yesterday’s cider fuelled afternoon, followed by Mai Tai o’clock, followed by vino in the dining room!  Extra sleep is awesome, so we totally don’t complain.  Breakfast served in the dining room, very civilized and I’m so going to miss it when we get back to real life.  Then into the sounds we went.

This is my fourth trip around NZ on a Princess Cruise ship, and each time we have been fortunate enough to be experiencing good weather which has allowed us to go into the sounds.  I hear that quite a few ships have to abort their plans to cruise through the sounds if the weather is rough, for obvious safety reasons, so we are very lucky to have been able to get in each time.

Up on decks, things look stunning… there is something quite surreal about watching this enormous ship sailing through these waters with land that seem inappropriately close to the sides of the ship.  Yes, there is probably plenty of water on either side of us, but when you become accustomed to seeing the ship at open sea with no land visible to the horizon on any side of you, it is weird cruising along and seeing a mountain right beside the railings.

Went looking for the rest of our group but they were no where to be seen…?  Hoped they weren’t missing this!

Milford 6 Milford 5 Milford 4 Milford 3 Milford2 Milford1Eventually went searching for the others, not on 14, not on 12.  Even checked the viewing decks on 11 and 10.  No sign of them?  Found most of them eventually – Big Sal and Surly had, very sensibly, taken up prime positions in a spa as we cruised through the beautiful scenery, but a whole bunch of them were hiding out in the Wheelhouse Bar occasionally popping their heads out on the Promenade (deck 7) to have a look around and take some selfies?!?  Hmmm… I guess scenic cruising is not for these guys.  They should totally skip Alaska if that’s the case.  Fricken weirdos.

Only a few nights left of wrangling with the little guy who keeps coming up to lock up the spas at night… I’m sure the poor guy just wants to do his last job and turn in for the night, but we’ve been fending him off quite vigorously!  Love the spa late at night when there’s hardly anyone around.  It’s just so relaxing.  Thee nights at sea remaining.  🙂

Steampunk NZ Cruise – Dunedin

Yay!  Dunedin.  What a great city… full of cold weather, possum wool, tartans, and fantastic hipster pubs!  🙂  Yep, that was my plan for the day – send Mr K off to find a doctor, because he has a sore throat that is not getting any better, and I’m going shopping for possums and then heading to the pub!  But not just any pub, Mac’s on Stuart, my favourite pub in Dunedin.

The possum shopping was accomplished in record time – had to buy a lovely warm shawl for our puppy sitter (what would we have done without her?!) and also picked up a few other items for a few people at home.

Then went to Mac’s on Stuart ostensibly for lunch, but mostly to drink away the last of our NZ currency!  Surly was keen to go to the Monteith’s across the street (“They have the entire Monteith’s range on tap!”), but I convinced him that we should go to Mac’s instead, and he was later heard saying he was very impressed with their craft brews.  So verily did I spend the rest of the afternoon sharing some fish and chips and drinking cider while everyone else went to the Cadbury’s chocolate factory. A merry time was had by all… well, by me for certain, but possibly for all..!dunedin 6 dunedin 5 dunedin 3 dunedin 2 dunedin1