What Works For Me: 1, 2, 3... TENS

What Works For Me: 1, 2, 3... TENS
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OK, a few disclaimers before I start this article... First of all, yes I know the number is TEN not TENS, but then I'm not referring to a number. Second of all, this article may read a bit like an advertorial - it's not - though I will include a link to this "life-saving" product I've recently experienced. OK, maybe life-saving is a bit strong of a term, but it sure felt like it to me. OK, let's get started with my story.

A few weeks ago, I hurt my back. I pulled a muscle and when it happened, it literally knocked me off my feet. It took me several minutes to get back up off the floor and the pain was like nothing I'd ever felt in my life. I've described it as "someone jabbing me in the lower-back with a red-hot poker "... not that I've ever experienced a red-hot poker, but it seems that's what it would feel like. And, well I've seen movies of torture so that's the equivalent, in my mind.

Well, with my usual positive attitude, I thought: "No problem, this will be healed in a day or two." Not! Three days later, the pain was still excruciating. The only body position that didn't hurt was standing which made it difficult to sit and eat, sit and work, or even lay down to sleep. Getting up out of a chair or the bed was at least a 15-minute ordeal as I tested different ways to get up that would not trigger the mind-numbing pain.

Mind-Numbing?

What I discovered, among other things, is that pain can indeed be a mind-paralyzer. I had difficulty maintaining my usual inner talk of "every thing is going to be alright", "I'm getting better each and every minute", and "I can do this!" The pain somehow was louder than my positive inner voice. Actually, I would say it numbed it out completely at times. 


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The whole situation also brought up the old thought patterns... poor me, I'm helpless, I can't do this, I messed up, I know better, yada yada yada. Now, two weeks later, it's easy to see what I "should have done"... Yes, I "should have" put into practice all the things I know... positive attitude, hands-on healing, mind over matter, etc. It seems that all I could think of was the pain -- present, past, and future. Somehow the intelligent part of my mind was silenced and I didn't even think of these things. 

Case in point: A few days ago, I called a friend who is in much more dire circumstances than I, having recently broken several ribs and her two clavicles. I shared about my new discovery - I'll get to what it is later - and asked her if she was familiar with this contraption I had discovered that got rid of my excruciating pain. Yes, she said, she knew about it, as a matter of fact she owned such a machine, but she hadn't thought about using it for her horrible pain.

See what I mean? Pain can be mind-numbing. Even when a solution is at hand, the pain can stop the thought process or intuitive process that leads us to the solution.

Do Something! Anything?

So after three days of excruciating pain, not only had I not gotten better as I had expected, but it seemed I was worse. So off to the doctor I went. She confirmed, no broken bones, but a strained muscle. The solution? Anti-inflammatory drugs and  a muscle relaxant. I usually don't take "drugs", but in this case, all my principles flew out the window. As a friend once jokingly said, "just hook me up to the morphine drip".

Towards the end of the medical exam the doctor mentioned that I might want to try a TENS machine as that might help with the pain, and they sold it at the drugstore. So as I waited for them to fill my prescription, I checked out the TENS machine they had in stock. I decided not to purchase it at that moment since they had only one model, and I do like to do my research and compare and select what I feel is the best one for me. What can I say... the Libran in me has to balance out all the options.

So when I got home, I took the pills as prescribed for several days, yet nothing changed. The intensity level of the pain stayed the same. When the doctor had asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 how was the pain, my response was 20!

So, I did my research and ordered a TENS machine on Amazon. It arrived exactly one week after I had pulled my back muscle, and it took four 20-minute sessions in that first afternoon to get rid of the mind-boggling pain. Hallelujah! A miracle! A blessing! What joy! The excruciating pain was gone and all that remained was some muscle pain when I bent over, but this was more of an ache than a "shoot me and put me out of my misery" pain. Yes, I know, I make it sound extremely horrible, but believe me, it was.

Lessons Learned?

What did I learn from this? Well the first obvious one, and something I already knew but failed to put into practice, is to bend correctly. You don't bend from the waist, you bend from the knees. And you don't twist and reach over once bent from the waist (which you're not supposed to do anyway, LOL). OK, first lesson: bending properly - check.

Second lesson? Well,  actually, more of an awareness. I now have definite empathy for people who suffer debilitating pain. I now know, from experience, what they are experiencing. I had not known pain of this intensity existed, and now I will be more sympathetic and empathetic when hearing of others' chronic pain.

Third: I'm reminded of the expression, "When you are up to your ass in alligators, it's easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.” Or to transpose it to my situation, when you're deep in the pain of an experience, whether it is physical pain or emotional pain, it's harder to remember all the positive things you need to do to get out of that mind-space. Hard, but not impossible. I did have my moments of focusing on the positive, of visualizing a happy outcome, of doing healing on myself, but those went right out the window when the pain was shooting through my body.

Fourth: Be patient with yourself. Even if we "know" all the things we need to do, we may not get them right 100% of the time, or even half of the time. The intention is what counts the most. Even if you are not always loving, or positive, or patient, or following a healthy diet, or whatever, the intent that you have of being that way is of great importance. It sets the tone for the future.

Fifth: It's not about getting it right ALL of the time. It's about having a vision of where you want to be... happy, loving, at peace, healthy, etc. and knowing that there are ups and downs in the process. Life is not a flat road. There are curves, there are steep hills, and sometimes it can feel like a roller-coaster. But the goal remains, no matter what situation you find yourself in.

Give yourself a break. Give yourself a pat on the back for good intentions, and know that "if at first you don't succeed, try try try again" is a good life motto.

Oh, yes, the gizmo that saved my life, or at least my sanity and my back? Here's the link to it on Amazon. This TENS unit has been my new best friend for the past week, and I am so grateful for its assistance in getting me back on my feet, or actually sitting down, pain-free.

Why did I pick this particular TENS unit? I liked that it was small and compact, and that it was wireless. It didn't need cords and electrodes, and it also allowed me to go about my business while wearing the unit, turning it on as needed. I didn't need to be next to a table or bed, but could be washing the dishes, working at the computer, out for a walk, or even out in the garden and have the TENS unit working. So that's my reasons why I picked that one. Plus it had good reviews, and the price was right.

Another disclaimer in closing: When you click the link on this page for this product on Amazon and purchase it, InnerSelf will get a small commission. You get improved well-being and InnerSelf gets a bit of cash towards operating expenses: a win-win situation.

Here's the link to the wireless Easy @ Home TENS unit on Amazon.

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About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com

Video: Easy @ Home TENS Unit overview:

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