Special Podcast on Long-term Pain Management
Pain, what a pain pain is. Carol has had several life events that triggered long-term pain. It has been a lot for one person. That she is remarkably outgoing, positive and smiling speaks to what she has learned so tricks and approaches to living with pain, even overcoming it enough that she can live a life, laugh often and engage the world.
This is a conversation you can apply to your pain now.
I was born and raised in Calgary. I grew up in an environment of sexual and emotional abuse. I survived Ovarian Cancer at the age of 20. I had 11 more abdominal surgeries to remove scar tissue and adhesions. I was on Morphine for 20 years to manage my pain; it was a living death. I have lived with debilitating illness and severe chronic pain for over 30 years.
In my youth, I was a ballroom dancer and Ice dancer. I became a hairdresser at 18. In my 30's, I went back to school and earned my legal secretarial degree.
At 50, I chose natural methods to combat my pain and CBD cannabis oil was my miracle. I was doing well, getting my life back. Then in 2020, I was sexually assaulted, which derailed my recovery and left me with permanent damage.
I have endured decades of severe chronic pain and illness, which will limit me for the rest of my life. No matter how many challenges I encounter, I conquer them with a never give up attitude. I face each day with gratitude, humour, courage, faith, love, compassion, happiness, joy, a positive attitude, a strong mindset, hope, and strength. God built me into a warrior.
I have been so blessed with so many gifts in my life. Mark Laurie, and my photoshoot with him was one of them. It changed my life. It helped me to remove years of trauma and shame.
I hope by sharing my story I can help others out the darkness I was trapped in for so many years.
About Mark Laurie - Host.
Mark has been transforming how women see themselves, enlarging their sense of sexy, and expanding their confidence in an exciting adventure that is transformational photography. His photo studio is inner Spirit Photography.
Sound Production by:
Lee Ellis - firstname.lastname@example.org
You're listening to fascinating women with Mark Laurie. And now, Mark Laurie.Mark Laurie:
Hello, everyone, this is Mark Laurie from fascinating women. And I'm talking to Carol today. Now we did an interview with her about her background who she was. But she has had decades of trying to master pain. And I believe she's got some tools like to pass on. So this is one of our special editions that we do. And this special edition is beyond how to handle pain. Now, not everyone may or may have listened to our earlier podcast about it. But at about 23 are diagnosed with cancer. From age 22 to 23, you the doctor seems to guess right you have it. And then you had about 30 years of struggling with that pain. And then along the way, you've also had the pain of sexual attack. Yeah. And so there's layers of both emotional pain and physical pain that you've had to do a through out your body was, was betraying you, and people in your tight circle are betraying you. So let's see if we can give some skills or tools for people deal first with physical pain, and then we'll step into some emotional pain. SoCarol Pederson:
okay, okay, so physical pain, I think that starts with attitude. It's what I always say to myself, this is not permanent, it's only temporary, it'll pass, it's not going to be here forever, the intensity may go up, it may go down, it'll always be there every day, but it's not going to be this intense. So I think the thing that I do first is I try and use breathing, slow myself, slow my thinking down. That's what it does, do breathing and imagine a box, and I inhale for four. And then I exhale for four. And I keep doing that. And I see that box going around until I'm calm till I know that I'm going to be okay. And I've got control of this, it hurts. Yeah, it hurts, but I got this. So I do that probably for a good half hour. And sometimes it takes deep breathing to just deep breaths and calm my body, relax, I'm okay, I'm here, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna be okay. This hurts. I know it does, but I'm okay. And then if that that will work for a while. And then if the pain gets really intense, then I go within myself. I mean, most people have a special place, they love the ocean or the forest or even in the arms of their loved ones, or whatever it is, I go there. So if a person can practice going to that place, when you're in that kind of pain, it's very hard, takes a lot of work. It takes practice, but going there, it's kind of like a person can leave themselves for a while and leave the pain behind and just go, I'm okay, I just need to get away here for a few minutes. And then when the pain subsides or gets better, you can come back and say, Okay, now I can handle this. So those are the basic things I do. But sometimes pain is just there, and you can't, you can't really do much about it. So just breathe and relax. Take care of your body, what else can you do, right? But know that going within yourself that it's almost meditative in a way, because it calms the body, the body's gone, you're in that kind of pain, you're tense, oh, geez, I'm hurting so bad. It's true. My pain is like this. It's so bad, right? And vomiting. And so to get into the pain, I guess it's okay, you've got me. Never get through it. For me, it's always okay, I got this, I can manage it. And these are little steps I can take to do that. And it works takes practice. It doesn't happen overnight. But it's all about I think calming your body down and calming your mind down. Pain is horrible. It's it's something that I don't wish on anybody. But if you have it and you have it for life, you have to learn ways to manage it. That's just the way it is. So I think that having a really good attitude helps to.Mark Laurie:
So your approach is to not use drugs of any type.Carol Pederson:
Well, I use natural CBD oil and THC oil. So I have a one in one mix. I mix it half and half and I put it right on my stomach. And that helps with inflammation. It helps relax me and you get a little bit too but that's okay. And then I go lay down and I can breathe through it. So but no like I was on opioids for 20 years, and that makes it worse. Because then you can't go in the bathroom and like and the side effects are worse than then when you're done which You're paid or you've taken your medication at the end of that you're paying us back tenfold. So it doesn't help, it just masks it. So I think natural techniques and natural breathing and, and figuring out what works for you sometimes it's diet. For me it was diet, the wrong die was causing inflammation and pain. So there's things that you can do with that to to. It's that's why we say it's work because you have to what I did is I kept a pain journal to see when my pain was worse what I was eating what I was doing, what was it linked to. And that seemed to help because then I realized, oh, tomatoes make me in flames. And that causes irritation and causes pain. So things like that helped to, it's finding out what works for you, I think, because we're all individuals, right? And there's different types of pain and people handle pain differently. So it depends on what works for you. That's what I think.Mark Laurie:
So some of the steps I'm hearing is having a journal, to record flare ups of type of food you're eating so you can start connecting the dots to exactly cause and effect to a degree. Right? Okay, did you find is there any body movements, yoga, that's a thing that that helps lessen it?Carol Pederson:
Well, when you're in that kind of pain, any kind of exercises, forget about it. So I think just being comfortable in severe pain, when you're in that kind of pain, your instability rating, you just try and be comfortable. I mean, if it's a kind of pain, you can still walk around and do things, it's there. Going for a short walk can help listening to a beautiful piece of music, talking to a friend, something that will distract you, and make you forget a little bit that this is just so bad, I can't handle it anymore. But you can you're strong and you're powerful. We are and that's the thing, I think, when for me when I was given all those drugs, I was given all those trucks and things crushed by soul. I wasn't careful anymore. I was just this fake full of drugs, and I couldn't manage my life and I had no power anymore. This way, I have the power now I control my body. So I think that helps to psychologically it helps people a lot. It does. So theMark Laurie:
journal, keep great record of things. And then the other thing was is to calm the body down, calm the mind down since you calm yourself on yourself. And the mental tricks of breathing, which isCarol Pederson:
good deep breaths help you be when I'm in that kind of pain, deep breaths hurt, but I do it anyways. Because you know what you've got to just. And then when I breathe in, I'm breathing in light. And when I breathe out, breathing out the pain, like go you're taking that pain with me. So those do you visualize that happening? Yeah, visualize it in my mind. Yeah, that I'm breathing in light, which is healing and makes me strong. And then when I breathe out, I'm breathing out all that dark pain because I see the pain is a dark light. So I push that out.Mark Laurie:
So personal, personalized, that visualize what the pain is, right? So you can approach it for each person you almost do right? YouCarol Pederson:
see it as because I used to see it as a little monster that lived inside of me and I was gonna get that monster. But I don't see it that way. No. Because when our bodies are in pain, our body's trying to tell us something, something's wrong, and listen to it. Right? Even sometimes a soothing cup of tea helps or just something that makes you feel good or something you really love. They'll make you forget for a little while that you're in that much pain. So distractions become powerful. They do help along. Yeah, reaching out and realizing you're not alone helps a lot too. Because I would just go hide and deal with it. Right. And I needed support, and I didn't have it. So reaching out is a big thing too.Mark Laurie:
So it would be useful to tell someone I needed a distraction. So we're going to do our dear friend, your job is to help me stay distracted. That's That's right. It's a fair thing.Carol Pederson:
That's a fair thing. If you have a really good friend who cares about you and loves you, and knows your situation. True friends will do that for you. Right.Mark Laurie:
I remember my mom who passed away from a form of cancer. One of the things she hated was people come up and there'd be this dialogue of how're you doing today? How's it and she just remember I walked with her. We just ignored that conversation. We just had a regular and I would like her regular person conversation, right? Is that something to advise friends and family to not dwell on?Carol Pederson:
Yeah, because they don't see you anymore. They only see what's wrong with you and then you feel like there's something wrong with you. And it turns into pity. And nobody in that kind of pain or illness needs a pity party.Mark Laurie:
That's what my mum said she hated that, that she felt that they when people came To see her, a lot of them, they were there for themselves. Not for not for her and that was very annoying to herCarol Pederson:
it see that's, I think how we protect ourselves who can't handle it psychologically, see, I'm the opposite. You're in a hospital bed, I'm come see you. And we're going to have a nice chat, and I'm going to walk in there dressed like the doctor and make you laugh and make you realize that it's okay, where you are, and I love you. And let's just have a regular good time. Right? Because that pity, it becomes almost a weight on your shoulders. Oh, here comes Carol again. What are we gonna do? You know, they almost dread seeing you because you're so Ill are in so much pain. Yeah, it's true.Mark Laurie:
Would it be worth having conversations to because there's no education on this? Sorry, give a short, not a big drawn out thing. But if you want to support me, here's some things that report me just so you know, and then we can leave it alone.Carol Pederson:
I think that's a great idea. You know, if someone's in your life, and they're willing to be there for you, even doctors should learn that, that we're all individuals. And I think that's a big part of the problem with chronic pain that we're all treated like it's cookie cutter medicine, right? So it needs to be individualized for each person, what works for them. And that's the work. That's what you have to find out what works for you. That's what I found. Yeah, aMark Laurie:
lot of trial and error for you to find that. Sorry, say there's a lot of trial and error for you to find.Carol Pederson:
Yeah, it was it was a it was a battle, it was a struggle. But it was, it was also something to focus on to get me through the day, because I had nothing to get up for. I was so sick, and I just didn't care, whatever, I'm going to be sick today, because that's the Dark Pit, right? So it was a reason to get up a reason to fight. I'm going to try this one little step today. And tomorrow is going to be better. So I think that, that helped me a lot get through it.Mark Laurie:
So what I'm hearing then is is the you have to adjust your viewpoint, your perspective of things. And expand your your possibilities, even your mind if they're kind of thin. Yeah, just open that up a bit more. And that that spirit aCarol Pederson:
little bit at a time, you know, because I mean, I think I was raised in a generation of doctors, God, and you listen what the doctor says. And that's it. Well, I learned that's not true. So for people to step outside of that, and go, You know what, I'm going to look into this, and I'm going to do some research, and I'm going to find out what works for me. Journaling does help along.Mark Laurie:
The second side of hand with pain is the emotional pain, which you've also had a struggle with. Now, that's a different skill set. Is that?Carol Pederson:
It is it is that that was even harder than the pain. Because I was molested from three to 14. And family members knew and they ignored it. Because it wasn't happening to them. So they're going to be quiet. Right? So that was a big thing that that it haunted me for years. It did, even the men I chose as boyfriends were because of that. So that is a totally different skill set. And that was such aMark Laurie:
struggle to me. Now you use the counselor for part of it. Yeah, ICarol Pederson:
went to counseling because I couldn't. I couldn't accept I couldn't have children. That's what started the counseling. And then he said, Well, you How was your childhood? And we talked about this. Yeah, he needs more counseling. But I finally let the secret out. Because it was a family secret for years, and it wasn't allowed to talk about it. So that freed me in a sense. And it also made me kind of an advocate for those it's happening too. Because I know the silence and I know you don't talk about it, you talk about it, you're gonna be out of this family. And you know, there's things that toxic families do and it's wrong. But those things I think were such emotionally such a part of my life. It took years to break those traumas that happen.Mark Laurie:
How do you find a good counselor?Carol Pederson:
That's hard. I've been really lucky actually. I last counselor I went to he was through Alberta Health through my doctor. And I believe I was led to him too. Because the moment I talked to him, I trusted him and I don't really trust that easily because of things that have happened during but he and it's funny to me that people have hurt me the most are men and the people have helped me the most are men. It's funny, isn't it? How that works? Yeah. But yeah, he he's a godsend. Definitely. He just was dropped in my lap. But when I looked for counselor for the sexual abuse and the traumas of my childhood, it was hard to find someone who understood because you Oh, it's just trauma, you'll get over it. Yeah. But there's a trauma bond. And there's all these things that go with it. And it's destroyed my life. And I made bad choices because of that. And I never felt worthy of anything because of that. So I did end up with a male counselor made it released it. But I would have preferred a woman, I think, because she would have understood little more about the things that happened. And it was difficult holding that secret all those years. And then I had to tell a man about it. Yeah, that was difficult. Yeah,Mark Laurie:
so one of the things I picking up is that you should feel comfortable to listen to your counselor, but leave them if you feel they're not getting. So to gauge the if the counselor is in your service or not. And if they're not,Carol Pederson:
someone else, move on, keep looking until you find that it's like a doctor. I'm sure I've seen at least 80 doctors in my lifetime to all this illness. And I just kept looking till I found the right one. It's frustrating, it's irritating. They want to put you through stuff. They make you feel like you're a bad person, because you say no to treatment. Right? You know, you say no to a test that's gonna give you the same result. Why would you do it again. So counselors are the same, you have to connect with them. They have to understand you and you have to understand them, you have to trust them. And if it's not working, you don't connect move on. You have to free yourself, because it's about putting yourself first.Mark Laurie:
Now we talked about having a journal for the physical pain. Does journals help with the emotional? Yes, it does. Help me the different journaling?Carol Pederson:
I had to separate journals for that actually. Okay. because pain is a different thing. It's physical. So it's almost like documenting when you have your pain. What time of day did activity add to it? Was it something you ate? Did you drink a beer or whatever, right? But emotional, it's, it's your soul. It's your heart. That is a totally different journal that is so personal that no one should ever read it. But you I think, and that's a place that's safe to just let it out and let it go. Because the doctor want to see your pain journal. Right? But I never asked for your journal journal. I would never give it to the doctor. Nope, that's mine. That's private, right? But yeah, journaling helped a lot. And it's a very powerful way to release all that stuff. Because it's all the secrets you carry, right? Not allowed to talk about it. And I'm ashamed. And there's my fault, or no, it's not your fault. And it's okay to speak about it. And that helped me journaling helped me to learn to speak about it and give it a voice.Mark Laurie:
What's your process to journal?Carol Pederson:
I just sit down and I let it go. I've always written that way. It just I feel I can feel it in my body. I have to get rid of it. My energy changes. I'm grumpy. Leave me alone. I'm snapping it out. Time to go. Right, Carol? Yeah. So I go in just a quiet place and just let it go. Let it flow. I mean, it's probably different for a lot of people. But for me, that just works. To censoring myself doesn't work. I'veMark Laurie:
heard in the that source of journalists, even for creative journaling. The recommendation always that I've encountered so far has been to don't try to organize it don't try to censor edit flows. Right, right. Right. Right. Right. Do you set a timeframe?Carol Pederson:
When I started, it was half an hour because it was hard to start, right? It's scary to start, oh, I'm going to tell the secrets. No, even it's just to me, I would throw up when I first started writing, because it was so ingrained in me what happened was my fault and all these, it was all trauma really. And I had a family that was still very toxic in my life. So if I tried to talk about it, guess what? You're the black sheep, we're gonna have a big argument. So that journaling was an outlet, it was a stepping stone for me, and it helped so much. It really did. Because to, I think that's the worst about emotional pain, we don't really want to voice it, or we don't know how maybe sometimes, and it becomes such a part of our soul that it starts to stain us in a way and to write about it is, is to release it gives it a voiceMark Laurie:
now with the writing, I am guessing because you're talking about revisiting the same pain. Not to be surprised if the same story keeps on coming,Carol Pederson:
and it will okay and it will end and I think that there's a reason for that, because it's a steps on how to deal with it. Every time I write about it kept coming up, kept coming up. So okay, obviously I got to deal with this. I can't keep running from it. So I would look at my writings from a different perspective afterwards and go you know what, okay, this is what you're feeling and we got I got to figure out why. what's triggering me to feel that and why can't I let that go? And usually it's hurt which is a Anger and all those things. So that story keep recurring. It's just you're, you're not ready to deal yet. And when you're ready, it's like, Okay, today's the day, and I'm going to deal with it. And then it goes. So it steps to it. I think that's how and it's individual to everybody how they're gonna deal with it? I think it is.Mark Laurie:
So the process of the journaling is you're letting it go anywhere from 50 minutes to half hour until it feels kind of expunged out of your system. Right, uncensored goes for don't reflect, don't stop and read, just let itCarol Pederson:
right. And look at it after. That's fine. But don't edit after either.Mark Laurie:
That's an important thing that's down there as well. So let it go. Do you have provisions to when you pass away? To have them disposed? You get rid of one each year? How do you deal with this massive amount of books that are so intimate to your soul?Carol Pederson:
Well, now that I've released a lot of stuff, I did something very symbolic. All those journals for the pain were shredded. Because it's not me anymore. It's not my wife, I don't need it anymore. I don't need to look at it. I mean, it had boxes and boxes and stuff. I mean, I've always loved to write, and that's an outlet for me, but I was reading it and it made me feel physically sick. And I thought to myself, Why are you hanging on to this for get rid of it? You don't need it, and shredding it, I cried. And I released again, it was like, there, there goes by it's gone forever. Me, it's never gone forever. That's not true. But it made me feel that way. Right? It's there. But now I can draw on it to help others. Like I went through that I know, or I see signs of abuse and like, Okay, I'm gonna step in, because there's something wrong. Usually, they're very mad at me afterwards, they're grateful. So yeah, it's, it's all a process that's life is such an adventure as well.Mark Laurie:
So I'm going to recap both of them. So the first thing with physical pain, the thing to do is, in your case, you stepped away from medication after years of being on it, that's a personal option that people have to deal with that person. And they have to gauge that themselves. But know that there's options from both ways. If you're trying to on your own, you may consider taking medication, if you're taking medication, there may be a path without if you're less of it. Right? The process is to journal for that. So you can start recording, when things come up, what happens around you may discover those commonalities or things that aggravate it, there is finding a core piece inside where you settle yourself down and you become focused mostly through breathing, which you take the half hour to do. You take your time, then you have distractions, where you have people or things you do in yourself, that will get you a sense of a future, a sense of engagement with other people. And for moments, you're not focusing on your pain. And so it's forgotten and therefore not felt that right, a good position helps you Yeah, for now dealing with emotional pain, such as a rape, but I mean, there's a lot of things from betrayal, to financial loss, there's all sorts of ways to get emotional pain. Again, you turn to journaling, to help get out of your body. It's like sort of like, almost like leaching it out, I guess, analytical way for your process for drilling is 50 minutes to half an hour longer, as long as it takes whatever it to be uncensored. Do, just let it flow out. Don't try to organize it. Don't look back on it as you're writing, just let it go out, you can come back afterwards and look at it, and then see if there's commonalities understand that the same stories are going to pour out until you're ready to deal with them. And then you'll notice you dealt with them when they stop appearing. Is that right? That's right, to find a counselor. And now the first one we didn't mention was to find a doctor, but both with the counselor have the permission or knowledge that if you feel they don't fit. If they're not getting the advice that you think you need to leave them and find somebody else's advice. KeepCarol Pederson:
looking until you find the one that fits you.Mark Laurie:
And you. I think we haven't covered that you could add in there. I guess one would be to find authentic people. Oh,Carol Pederson:
that's a big key. Authentic people is key because I had a lot of toxic, hateful people in my life for many, many years. And that's only been the last two years that those people have been removed. Life has changed. My pain has changed. My outlook has changed my futures. Everything changed because of that one decision, you know, so yeah, but that's usually the way it is of my life. I make a decision and big profound things happen.Mark Laurie:
I think it's common for a lot of people. So I guess to conclude this little short special that we're running is that it's about hope. It's about Slowly mentally, that you can come through this will either find a way to deal with the pain, you'll find a way to overcome the fate pain and lead for you a relatively normalCarol Pederson:
life, as normal asMark Laurie:
your best life, yes. So that's a good term, your best life. And that's what the goal is, is to,Carol Pederson:
that's what I'm doing.Mark Laurie:
So you're not looking at people being envious, you're going okay, so this is my best life. And there's people who have life that's maybe less than what I'm adjoined and maybe better than I'm enjoying, but this is my life. But ICarol Pederson:
also think gratitude is a big part of that. It helps a lot being grateful.Mark Laurie:
Walk through that. Because I hear that phrase gratitude. It's Oh, yeah, I understand, be grateful. And then my thought is like, well, what does that mean? How do you be grateful? What are you grateful about your great pain, emotionally, physically?Carol Pederson:
What do you mean gratitude and hope are kind of linked? To me, gratitude is the wake up in the morning, thank you. I'm awake, you woke me up today, I have another chance today. grateful that I can eat. I couldn't eat before. I'm limited. But I was drinking liquids to survive. Grateful I can walk grateful I met amazing people, those little things that we take for granted every day. And those little things are what gave me hope. I read a book called I think it was called the power of hope years ago, and then pass it on to girlfriend who's losing her mom. And it's not the happy outcome all the time. But there's hope that if you're dying, it's hoped that you go peacefully or hope that you're not in pain, or hope that you'll see that loved one you've been missing. It's just hope for the littlest thing. And that those are the things that kept me going. And to me, those two things are connected gratitude and home, which is gratitude gives me hope and gratitude.Mark Laurie:
So I'll rephrase this to say there's two ways to that kind of comes out to it. What you're trying to with gratitude is finding initially small things, even in your life, that are positive that you are grateful for a comfy cushion, you're grateful it's not raining today, you're grateful that the pain only lasted for half an hour rather than an hour, right? So you find whatever hook you can do. And then as you become more grateful, you can start finding bigger, grateful things as your mind starts to become conditioned to it. Right, exactly. Sweet. Well, I hope to our audience that this has been helpfulCarol Pederson:
to you. I hope so I hope it's helped them. How have you got there?Mark Laurie:
It's been like looking at these insights and putting the pieces together. And so thank you, Carol, and I'm your host Mark Laurie Cassidy.Exit speaker:
This has been fascinating women with Mark Laurie. Join us on our website and subscribe at fascinating women dossier fascinating women has been sponsored by inner spirit photography of Calgary, Alberta and is produced in Calgary by Leigh Ellis and my office media.