All Contents © 2007, 2013 David S. Guseman, LCSW  
Tossed on the waves of our emotions, we forget that we are the sea.


Chronic pain (pain which lasts six months or more) is perhaps the most debilitating category of ailments in our society today.  One out of every six people in the U.S. currently suffer from chronic pain and perhaps as many as half of all Americans will suffer from chronic pain at some time in their lives.

The faces of chronic pain are many:  back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), post-surgical pain, cancer pain...the list goes on and on.  Western medicine applies a mostly mechanical approach to pain control, based in surgical procedures and pharmacological (drug) interventions.  My own experience of working in a medical pain clinic taught me that these interventions are often tremendously useful.  Just as often, though, they seemed to be useless or even harmful.

Pete was a sixty-ish ex-truck-driver who had been disabled and unable to work for many years as a result of an accident which severely injured his legs.  I only saw Pete once, as he attended a workshop that I was giving at a local senior center.  On that workshop Tuesday I taught a small group the basis of my pain relief techniques.  I did not know it at the time, but Pete was very uncomfortable in public places where he had to stand for any period of time.  Between the pain and the fear of his legs giving out, he had shied away from supermarkets and such places for more than a decade.  Pete was attentive but, in a short workshop of about fifteen seniors, he received no special attention..  At the next session, a week later, I noted that Pete was missing.  I later was told that Pete had died of natural causes, in his sleep, on Friday night.

I was upset for Pete, and upset for myself.  If only I had seen Pete earlier, I could have helped him to relieve his pain in his last days.

Then I received, through a friend, news from Pete’s wife.  It seems that Pete had taken the class very seriously and applied the pain relief techniques continually.  As a result, he had a breakthrough with his pain.  He went out.  He played with friends.  He went to the supermarket.  Pete was free of the tyranny of his pain for the first time in years.  And he thoroughly enjoyed that freedom for those final three days of his life.  Pete’s wife was, at the same time, devastated by her loss and grateful for the quality of Pete’s last days.  I, too, was in awe and gratitude for the part I was given to play in the last earthly days of a stranger in pain.

I feel blessed to have produced a few “miracles” like Pete’s, and many more “minor miracles” of reduced pain and suffering.

I often say, “Been told ‘learn to live with it’?  I’ll show you how to live without it.”   If you’re ready to learn, click here to find out how to get started.

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, it lasts forever.”  ~Lance Armstrong
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.”  ~Kahlil Gibran
“Pain was not given thee merely to be miserable under; learn from it, turn it to account.”
~Thomas Carlyle