Chronic Pain and a Poetryaction

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell

Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

Question for you all: Can you personally recommend any good books about living with chronic pain? I was recently diagnosed with some spinal maladies. At least I have an answer to the back pain that began a year ago and has gotten steadily worse. I’m a fit and active person, and I want to continue to be so–though this is already affecting what I can and can’t do in various situations. I’ve got the medical advice down–that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a good book or other resources about living with chronic pain (of any kind) and not letting it take over your life, from a mindset and practicalities point of view. Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! (Again, NOT looking for medical books and cures.)

And now, something guaranteed to make me feel better–writing and poetry. This week, I’m sharing a poetryaction to a really fun and unusual picture book called Friends Beyond Measure, by Lalena Fisher. I’m having to curtail some in-person gatherings with friends due to my chronic pain, so that was probably coloring my mind as I wrote this!  (You can see all my poetryactions here.)


And for lots of wonderful poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with bookstore volunteer, educator, and passionate reader Linda Baie!


34 Responses

  1. I am sorry to hear you are having back pain. My Mother lived with back pain during the covid shut downs. She was also an active person and really missed her daily walks. I hope you find relief soon.
    I can vouch for the book Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. One of the main characters lives with chronic leg pain from and injury.

  2. I will keep an eye on the responses to this post! I live with chronic back and leg pain that goes from tolerable to excruciating because of severe inflammation and stenosis. Occasionally, since my Covid vaccine and now my shingles vaccine, I have bouts of not being able to take a step. Today I am walking up to 100 paces without the cane! So I’m on my way back to mobility. It is hard not to be able to get regular exercise. There is a mindset that needs to be invoked with chronic pain. So I’ll be interested in what resources are recommended!

  3. Hi Laura! My first comment disappeared? I suggested books by Toni Bernhard. There’s also Pain Woman Takes Away Your Keys by Sonya Huber. xo Tabatha

    1. Thank you, Tabatha. I knew you had recommended a book to me for my daughter, who has several chronic illnesses. I appreciate the reminder and the goodreads list!

  4. Laura, I wish I had a good book recommendation — I really feel for you and know that the virtual hugs I’m sending are not going to fix things.
    I love your poetry action, too.

  5. Your poetry actions are always ones to remember, Laura, and this, today, shows feelings so poignantly in that countdown. I am sorry for learning of your pain; wishing it weren’t true and that you find at least some small ways to relieve it every day. I don’t have a recommendation and am glad to see others do. Hugs for better!

  6. Sending love Laura as you journey through this… and I LOVE Friends Beyond Measure! It recently won a Mathical award, so a new discovery for me. Fabulous! xo

    1. Thanks, Irene. I think that’s the hard part–there’s perhaps no journeying *through*–only with. Fun on the Mathicals–I have 2 friends who got Mathical honors ❤️

  7. So sorry to hear about your pain, Laura. I hope you get the suggestions you are looking for. I love the emotion you’ve created in your poetry action. That last line is so poignant. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I’m so sorry for the pain you’re experiencing.
    I don’t have any recommendations now, but will pass along anything I learn in the future.
    It’s good you reached out and I hope you get some helpful responses.
    Meantime, here’s to the magic of writing and poetry!

  9. oooof. Chronic pain. No fun. I’m sorry. I will ponder this question as I head into my library this week. I think it’s a very good topic for a middle grade book…but no titles come to mind. A dear, dear friend of mine is a music therapist. I hope you have access to some music therapy. Sending you gentle hugs as you search for more info.

  10. I love your poem for Friends Beyond Measure. Such a fun book that has way too much packed in it for me to use with my after school kiddos! Rats!

    I’m also following this comment thread. I live with all kinds of joint pain and degeneration (thanks, mom) but would love to live better as things continue to degenerate OR in order to keep things from further degeneration. My only advice is — don’t take any NSAID for extended periods of time. They can cause lymphocytic colitis. (which can thankfully be reversed with a year of restricted diet and supplements)

    1. Thanks, Mary Lee, and hugs. I’m trying to avoid having to take naproxen regularly:(

    2. Thanks, Mary Lee–yep, my parents had all sorts of join issues too. Ugh. I’m trying to avoid taking naproxen regularly. We’ll see what happens!

  11. Your countdown poem is so sad, but relatable for children. My students often put the numbers next to their haiku. I think it interrupts the flow, but it helps them keep track of the number of syllables. I’d like to use this poem as a prompt for using numbers as part of the poem.
    I don’t have any book recommendations. Sorry. I know people who live with chronic pain, so maybe we should write one.

    1. Thanks, Margaret–I often have to put numbers by syllabic poems! I do like the idea of incorporating numbers inTO a poem–two things that seem opposing, but aren’t.

  12. I loved the book FRIENDS BEYOND MEASURE. Thank you for sharing this poem–so tough. I wish I had a great book for you, but I don’t. Hoping someone will have something for you. So sorry you are dealing with chronic pain.

  13. quI4Fu8yFCLjOdHLNRmpflIBcTKT3RjFpXS64kGDpRPSF8lrkjdo0RdypmAT0s.t0cHTLXe1phPo0gl-f5Ft4hJxeptl_WGbGNQjxTDzb0&dib_tag=se&keywords=mindset+of+how+to+live+with+chronic+pain&qid=1709683698&s=books&sprefix=mindset+of+how+to+live+with+chronic+pain%2Cstripbooks%2C110&sr=1–6Laura, I love your countdown poem, which is full of emotion. I like how your poem seems to build up to the last line. I think children will relate well to your poem. Friends leaving and having to say goodbye is rough. I remember the sadness I felt when friends moved away. For very young children, the sadness and pain after a friend, a parent, or a grandparent moves away can be difficult for them to express their feelings. Thank you for highlighting Friends Beyond Measure. I think the graphs and charts are a good way to involve STEM with STEAM.

    I am sorry about the chronic pain you are feeling. I did find this one book that seems like it might help:
    How To Reduce Chronic Pain Naturally: Reclaim Your Life and Health Today With These Pain Management Techniques by Lyn James.

    I have been living with chronic pain in different parts of my body for many years in my back, neck, hands, feet. I developed osteoarthritis in my 30s. I mange my pain mostly from going to a chiropractor and massage therapist. I also think eating a wheat free, soy free, and mostly dairy free diet plus trying to stay away from chemical additives helps. I also do yoga, but not consistently as I used to do. I know people use meditation to help, which I think is one of the best parts of yoga. I also know people who have used acupuncture with good results. Have you considered Tai Chi? It has been something I have wanted to try for a long time, Now, that I have 4 bunions and an Achilles heel which are painful and cause more pain when hiking or walking, I think I’m going to look for some Tai Chi classes.

    Laura, I hope you find some things that help you.

    1. Thanks, Gail, for your kind words about my poetryaction. Goodbyes ARE hard. Also, I’m sorry you’re living with chronic pain too. “I developed osteoarthritis in my 30s.” Ugh. I’m in my 50s, and frankly, I’m ticked off that I’ve got it NOW, when I’ve worked so hard to be strong and fit. Ugh. It’s funny you mention tai chi–I was looking into that when lockdown happened. So I did some videos and tried some books, but none of them was great. I’d like to try an in-person class of it. Thanks for the other ideas too!

  14. Your poem really tugs at the heart, so beautifully melancholic.
    I’m so sorry to hear about your chronic pain. As Gail mentioned above I was going to mention meditation, and also deep breathing exercises both have helped me with some health issues I have. Sending healing thoughts your way, xo.

    1. Thanks! I do meditate and box breathe, but I’m probably going to need to dive in more deeply to both!

  15. Holding you in in Love & Light Laura.
    These N‑F guides have helped me. cope with chronic cancer which is incurable & often, brings me pain:
    These are NOT pain reliever books but they help me lose my focus away from pain
    Budda’s Brain – Richard Mendius MD & Rick Hanson PH.D
    neuroscience meets mind over matter…[easier said than done but this I turn to a lot]
    The Art of Transforming Suffering – Thich Naht Hahn
    Below has probably been suggested but if you can find the education section of whichever is
    the nation’s or Canada’s top spinal pain center hospital, such as The University of Toronto-
    there should be links for people like this:
    I’ve learned on this cancer journey since 2019, that I don’t always have to be a patient at a top
    medical center, to benefit from their educational materials, accessible online.
    And finally, you have been coping with this so long, you likely have been already directed to this group:
    US Pain Foundation – a non-profit
    Many people are are sending you boosting vices & sunshine & smiles, wonderful, dear Laura.
    This is unfair, unwarranted & you are so brilliant & creative to keep on keepin’ on. I’m in awe of YOU!

    1. ak! boosting VIBES… [not vices, tee-hee,tho…] which reminds me, I just laid in more cartoon collections from a re-seller of books… sometimes, if I laff myself silly … it helps. More charms for PainBeGone days from Jan

      1. Heehee! Jan, thank you for this variety of suggestions, especially about hospitals and websites. What a good reminder for me. You’re an inspiration in the way you deal with your own illness while still finding and spreading joy! xo, Laura

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