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Book Review: Living Well with Chronic Pain

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Book Review: Living Well with Chronic Pain

Once or twice a week I get an invitation to read and review a book. Most are about topics that don’t apply to us. But I was intrigued by Dr. Liza Leal’s new book, Live Well with Chronic Pain; a Guide to Taking the First Steps. Her publisher was kind enough to send me a copy.

Chronic pain bookI don’t need to remind you that a majority of multiple myeloma patients suffer from bone related complications. Like me, much of the damage occurs before we’re diagnosed. Damage to one or more vertebrae is an all too common issue. That makes sense. Rogue plasma cells tend to grow in areas with the most bone marrow. Our lower backs, pelvis and femurs are prime targets.

I’m guessing all of us know someone who broke their leg, hip or fractured a vertabra or two—or three. For many, that’s how we’re diagnosed with cancer in the first place.

I also know some of the “lucky” ones; patients whose myeloma is discovered before bone damage becomes a painful reality.

But for most of us, pain is a constant companion. Sometimes it improves with time as our myeloma is brought under control. Often some pain lingers, flaring up following the next inevitable complication. Sometimes pain meds help; sometimes not.

Even for those lucky enough to escape bone damage, chemotherapy can cause painful peripheral neuropathy (PN) over time. Patients fortunate enough to have lived a long time can attest to that! Thalidomide and IV Velcade are notorious for causing PN. Sometimes our pain has little to do with our myeloma. Last week in Boston I spoke with several survivors that are battling pain on other fronts, too. One has M.S. Several others are saddled with complications associated with diabetes. Yet another was troubled by painful arthritis.

Dr LealAfter reading her book, I learned that is Dr. Leal’s cross to bear: debilitating reumatoid arthritis. Confined to a wheel chair before she could finish medical school, Liza needed to find a way to fight through the pain. She did it by changing her mindset; by changing her life.

Dr. Leal’s message is inspiring. She chose to pass along key parts of her life changing program in parable form; by creating a fictional character named Tom. He is desperate and depressed until he attends a weekend retreat for people living with chronic pain. Despite some awkward dialogue, Dr. Leal makes some great points. She stresses our responsibility to try and find ways to live with the pain, without relying on pain meds alone.

There’s a psychological component here. I couldn’t help but think back to former posts about the desperate need for emotional support so many of us need.

Be warned. If you embrace Dr. Leal’s program, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication. But if you adopt the lifestyle changes she suggests, I’m sure you’d benefit.

And even if you don’t chose to undergo a complete lifestyle overhaul, I think the book will get you thinking, providing you with some helpful pain management tips.

You can learn more and order Dr. Leal’s book by going to:

Her book is also available on Amazon. I haven’t stocked Dr. Leal’s book in yet. I will if there’s a demand, so if you order one, let me know what you think.

Feel good and keep smiling! Pat