A physician shares his trials with chronic pain in this debut medical memoir.
The author, ironically and pseudonymously named Moody, is an anesthesiologist struggling with chronic pain. In his insightful and informational book, he chronicles his life journey at the mercy of debilitating discomfort: “The rare type that never goes away. Pain that uproots life, forces disability and ends relationships.” He divides his ordeal into three sections that intimately detail the first episodes of chronic pain, how his carefully mapped treatment plans progressed, and finally the aftermath of his malady and what the future holds. Moody intricately and incrementally describes his long tenure with chronic back pain, from the first twinges of discomfort after a particularly strenuous and competitive game of tennis to the years of disproportionate neuropathic pain and multiple spinal fusions that had a negative effect on his life and depleted his longevity as a professional medical provider. In addition to describing his own personal clinical journey in and out of the throes of the chronic pain syndrome spectrum of disorders, Moody walks readers through important facets like the selection of a primary care physician, the ambiguity of a diagnosis, and the various methods of illness detection, from MRIs to ultrasound procedures and laparoscopy. The author discusses the four stages of chronic pain. He categorizes pain through varying levels of severity and its initial origin. Terms such as “pain proneness” and “referred pain” will be new to nonclinical readers, though they put a name to a very real, complex (and commonplace) affliction.
A section on pain treatment addresses alternative treatments and temporary fixes, from a subcutaneous lidocaine injection to more extreme measures like a spinal cord epidural and the dreaded “pain-opioid downhill spiral” of prescription drug therapy, abuse, dependency, and withdrawal. Several chapters creatively explore the intriguing philosophical side of human pain and how the unconscious mind can be activated by something as innocuous as a smell or sound, triggering aches in the conscious physical body. For those dealing with chronic pain while reading Moody’s astute, candid, and thoughtful guide—packed with helpful charts and uncredited black-and-white illustrations—there is nothing superfluous in these pages. Using a conversational tone and keeping his text readable and easily digestible by a general audience, the author articulates and compassionately relates to the seemingly endless struggle to overcome physical pain and carry on with daily life. While some chapters offer valuable information, medical guidance, and hopeful, reassuring advice, others are more practical and directly address the frank reality and discouraging aspects of living with chronic pain. Some readers may ponder what Moody really means when he admits to remaining in pain but accepting it and no longer suffering from it. But his “pain willingness” process explains this epiphany in the book’s conclusion as Moody’s management protocol becomes increasingly and effectively “routine and commonplace.”
A useful and illuminating guide that encourages a greater awareness of a crippling syndrome affecting legions of patients.