Living Well with Chronic Pain

Living Well with Chronic Pain
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: Nonfiction Book
ISBN: 9780989638067
Chronic pain disables more people than cancer or heart disease. More than eighty-six million patients have been diagnosed. One out of three have this condition. This book takes a no-nonsense approach that can be understood by chronic pain patients, families, friends and professionals alike.
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About the Book

Chronic pain disables more people than cancer or heart disease. More than eighty-six million patients have been diagnosed. One out of three will have this condition. This book takes a no-nonsense approach that can be understood by chronic pain patients, families, friends and professionals alike. It is a practical guide describing lifestyle changes others can learn and use to take control of the pain. Share the struggles and triumphs of the following types of chronic pain patients:

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Pain Due To Compression Fractures From Osteoporosis
  • Failed Back Syndrome Pain
  • Cancer Pain
  • Arachnoiditis Pain
  • Abdominal Pain
  • And More


“The subject is a universal one and should appeal to a huge audience. Willhoff knows whereof she speaks (having suffered with chronic pain), so she hits the points any pain sufferer would want to hear, including all the attendant feelings, emotions, desperation, social/familial implications. That she found methods to live with the pain is commendable—the reader will want to relate. But she also lives beyond the pain, as do others she highlights, and that is inspiration for any pain sufferer. The book details the control of different kinds of pain and the helpful Medtronic technologies.” — Writers Digest

“The book, Living Well With Chronic Pain, adds up to a much-needed message of hope for those caught in the clutches of chronic pain.” — Bill Radford, The Colorado Springs Gazette

“Chronic pain can cause patients to alienate those around them and often leads to drug addiction, irritability and depression. This book is a must have for patients who suffer with chronic pain. It could save your life.” — Dr. Michael W. Brown , Neurosurgeon

“Many excellent books have been written on the devastating, life-changing effects of chronic pain. Such books are written by those of us who work with people in constant pain and represent an ‘outsiders’ view of a person who actually has pain that does not go away. Ms. Willhoff has written an excellent ‘insiders’ account of her own chronic pain experience from injury through recovery. This book will save sufferers a great deal of time on their own journey toward recovery.”  — Dr. Kevin C Murphy, PhD.

“Chronic pain may persist for weeks, months or years. Physical, psychological, and emotional stress may worsen chronic pain. By reading this book, the patient will know the emotions they are feeling are normal and that there is help.”  — Dr. Patrick Higgins

Five Star Reviews from readers at and

“I met you briefly on Saturday at your signing at Invesco Field in Denver. You don’t know, on second thought of course you do, how good it feels to meet someone who has been where I am today. I would say that I am perhaps as close to ‘ending it’ as you can be, after 18 years of chronic pain, the last ten being the hardest. So it was truly wonderful to read your story. Just to hear that you got off all drugs and your life got better again, has given me such hope. Thank you for writing this book. I took it home the day I bought it and finished it by the following evening. I am in the process of being tested to see if the Medtronic Advanced Pain Therapy will work for me. Again, thank you.”  — Jeannie Stephens, A Chronic Pain Sufferer

“Bravo, Jude Willhoff. At last a book about chronic pain, and the options available told from a lay person’s perspective. Ms. Willhoff shares her intensely personal journey so that people living with chronic pain know they’re not alone and that they *can* take their lives back. Learn why doctors think enough of Ms. Willhoff’s message to buy her book and give to patients and put them on reception room tables. I defy anyone living with chronic pain to read this book and walk away uninspired.” — Donnell A. Bell

“Jude Willhoff shares her extraordinary journey of how she’s dealt with chronic pain from overcoming the darkest depths of depression to finding a meaningful life. Practical tips, anecdotes from fellow pain sufferers, and strength flow from these pages, giving the reader hope that there is life after chronic pain. A must read for chronic pain sufferers and their care-givers.”  — Book Lovers

“Anyone suffering from chronic pain must read this book. Jude Willhoff’s story is inspiring. Thank you for giving the gift of hope to those suffering from chronic pain and showing them that it is possible to live normal lives once again.” — A person with chronic back pain. A reviewer.

“There’s help and you’re not alone! If you’re suffering from chronic pain and you don’t think there is a way out—you’re wrong. This book will outline a path to your new life! If your doctor doesn’t have a copy of this book, get him one.”  — Capri, A reviewer.

“Jude Willhoff’s story is a gift of hope and inspiration to anyone suffering from chronic pain. It has the ability to pull us back from the brink of desperation and give us the strength to go on with our lives. Thank you Jude for sharing your story with us!  — Jen, A reviewer.


Chapter One

Character is Who You Are When Nobody’s Looking

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”  – Helen Keller

The winter weather matched my mood–bleak and dismal.  I watched the freezing rain drizzle from the gray leaden sky outside my bedroom window.  My life, as I had known it, had been ripped apart.  I had been raised to believe the good Lord never gave us more than we could handle.  Today, I questioned my faith.  Where was God?  Why didn’t He answer my prayers?  I held the bottle of narcotic pain pills in my shaking hand, thinking how easy it would be to end it.  But the thought of not being with my husband and not seeing my children grow up held me back.

Six months earlier in Las Vegas, when I’d bent over the pool table to stroke in the eight ball, a shooting pain rushed down my lower back and right leg.  A hush fell over the crowd.  The butterflies in the pit of my stomach turned to bat wings.  The score was tied ten to ten.  This was game point.  If I made it, we’d be in the finals of the Billiard Congress of America Women’s National Eight Ball Championship.  I had trouble standing up, but the place went wild when the eight ball dropped.

Suddenly and without warning everything changed for me.  I watched the rain make tracks across the window pane.  Joy had left me.  My team had started playing for another season without me.  They were going to defend the title I helped win.  All I had left were memories.  I stared at the phone.  It didn’t ring.  Most of my friends had moved on.  Like the rain, a tear tracked its way down my cheek.

The pain started as a low back ache.  I thought I’d pulled a muscle.  When it didn’t get any better I went to see my family doctor.  After many tests, he told me he couldn’t find what caused my constant pain and sent me to several specialists.

Time passed and within a few months I could barely walk without assistance.  I was alone with my pain.  Life went on around me as my friends and family moved on with their daily business.  Each day I could physically feel and see myself deteriorating as I sat and faced my own mortality.  This wasn’t living.  This was existing.

Before I took a step that would be irreversible, I put the bottle of narcotic pain pills down and picked up my personal journal and started writing.  Writing was the only thing I could do to help save what was left of my sanity.

Journal Entry, November 18, 1995

At forty-five I feel old and frightened…used up.  Understanding why this has happened to me is beyond my grasp.  I’m living in a state of shock.  I’ve always been a healthy, active person, and now I’m on my way to becoming totally disabled.  The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me.  One had the nerve to tell me it was all in my head.  It’s not true, it’s in my back, hips and legs, everywhere, but my head. 

Each day is a struggle and it’s harder to get around in my home.  I ask myself, why is this happening to me?  There are no answers.  I don’t want to live…not like this.  My mind still works, but my body is giving up on me.  With each new day the pain becomes more unbearable.  I can’t work or take care of my home.  I feel as if I’m of no use to anyone. 

Being a Christian and loving my family, I know suicide isn’t the answer, but when the pain intensifies, I think about ending my life…now with dignity…before it’s too late.  I hurt badly and I’m fearful of what the future holds for me.  God, please give me the strength to endure this pain.

The days dragged after my husband went to work and children left for school.  Alone, I sat in my darkened living room with the drapes closed.  After taking my narcotics, the only place I felt comfortable was in my recliner.  I shouldn’t say comfortable–nothing was comfortable–but at least there, the pain was bearable.

My nights consisted of tossing and turning.  Muscle spasms and unrelenting pain kept me awake.  What was happening to my mind and body was beyond reason.  I yearned for my old life back.  Each day I sank deeper into depression.  My family tried to pull me back, but I stayed out of their reach.  Angry at the world for what had happened to me, I took it out on the people close to me, the people I loved.  Even in my drugged haze, I knew my family loved me, but for reasons I couldn’t understand, I lashed out at them.  The anger ate away at my soul.

I hated what my life had become.  I hated my helplessness.  And I detested the narcotics, but needed to take them to get through each day.  Trapped in my pain-racked body there was no way out.  Not being able to work or take care of my family, I felt useless.  One day merged with the next as my insides shook from the drugs.  I wanted to put a stop to the madness.

Through my fogged brain I heard the phone ring.  The answering machine picked up.  I listened to Dr. Higgins say, “Jude, are you there?”

He knew I was home.  Where else would I…could I go?  I didn’t go anywhere except to his office.  I answered, “Hello, it’s me.”

“Jude, I have some news.  I received the results back from the neurologist.  I want you to come into the office so we can discuss your treatment.”

“What is it?  What’s wrong with me?”  It wasn’t just in my head.  They found something.

“Hold on, we’ll talk about everything when you get here.  Can your husband bring you in this afternoon at about one?”

“Yes.  I’ll be there.”  Finally, they knew what caused my pain.  Had God sent me a message?  Maybe he hadn’t forsaken me after all.  This was a step toward recovery.

Later in the day Dr. Higgins dashed my glimmering hopes when he told me I had an incurable progressive disease of the spinal cord called Arachnoiditis.  He said it was clumping of the nerve roots, which caused muscle spasms and persistent pain.  There is no cure.  The pain would be constant for the rest of my life with a symptom of my disease called Chronic Pain Syndrome.  I was told I would probably be in a wheelchair in the near future.  Numbed by this information, I let him make an appointment for me at a pain management center.

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