116: When Addiction Isn’t the Only Chronic Pain in Your Life (Sort Of)

We welcome back Pete to talk about his struggles and successes in dealing with chronic pain in his life. Pete talks about herniated discs in his back, which led to being prescribed pain killers by doctors. The more pain killers he used, the more pain he ultimately felt. The consequences that occurred in his life as a result of being on a ton of pain killers for an extended period of time. And eventually him finding a pain management recovery program that has led him on a path of living mostly pain free and a much happier existence. We talk with Pete about what his experience was like, the things he has done to manage the pain since stopping pain killers, suggestions for those who struggle with chronic pain, the failings of our medical system, and what recovery is like for him now. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who does not want to be in pain and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and today we have pete hi i’m pete uh i’m an addict i’m a chronic pain survivor recover and i’m glad to be here and if you’ve been listening for a while uh pete helped us out with our financial episode quite a while back we we talked about how to you know what you should do when you get in recovery and you’re looking to straighten out some finances most of us aren’t in great financial shape and we learned about the word fiduciary that’s right yes you do that was your favorite that was the word of the day

yeah uh so you know if you’re having money troubles uh i want to say i feel bad for you son i’m like crazy yeah but you go back and check that episode out but but pete talked to us that day when he was here about some some chronic pain that he had experienced and we thought man that sounds like a reasonable topic i’m sure quite a few of us might experience this chronic pain and you know especially the way pete laid it out it might be more common than i think many of us think it is and so i’m going to let pete take over and tell us a little bit about that uh thanks jason um so i guess to start let’s talk about the textbook definition of chronic pain okay so so chronic pain is generalized as pain that lasts more than six months acute pain is is less than six months um my story with chronic pain as i was telling jason earlier is basically your radio ad and your tv commercials of how people get addicted to opioids through experiencing pain um you know i was in uh i was in my mid-20s when i started to experience chronic pain and i’ll tell you a little bit about what happened um i got out of college i’d gotten my you know my first job and i was working and living and living like a rock star party hard and you know working hard and uh one of the hobbies that i had was playing flag football in baltimore city and one of those really great leagues where you get to just drink on the sidelines and go out and get beer specials afterwards um so i generally drank more than the rest of the team combined and i still played um you know for for me basically um most of my life i’ve been pretty athletic and i played a lot of sports at this time of my life i didn’t realize the changes that were going on in my body i was i was probably about 30 to 40 pounds overweight and still playing like i was 15 16. so one day in the uh in a game i was running down the field going long and um you know like my hamstrings and my calves went numb and and i was like oh man you know i must have pulled some muscles in my leg or something like that so i i pulled myself out of the game nursed it with some alcohol and kept trying to uh stretch couldn’t stretch them out and i was like all right well you know let’s give this a week and just see how i feel before the game next week well by that friday i uh i i just couldn’t get my leg stretched out you know they just felt like they had been pulled all week there was a lot of tingling and stuff like that so i decided that i should call um like a sports medicine doctor and just go see them to see you know what i’ve done to myself i go in and i see this doctor and you know i tell him my symptoms and literally my my appointment was five minutes he’s like you’ve got 10 going down the legs you can’t stretch out your leg muscles he’s like you’ve got a spine issue you need to go see a spine specialist so again i’m this fat drunk 26 year old i’m really trying to picture like playing football drunk like it’s a lot of fun it really is i don’t know i i don’t feel like my my makeup is for moving once i’m inebriated it’s great yeah more of a sit back kind of yeah um you know so i i didn’t take it all in you know i didn’t realize the severity of a spine issue to me it was just you know all right well i hurt my back and uh you know i’ll move on from there well i go to this guy and uh go to the spine specialist he tells me that i’ve herniated a disc in my lower back again me i i have no medical knowledge i it didn’t mean anything to me it was like all right well a disc is broken okay what do you do and uh you know like so so the one that i herniated happened to be the l5 s1 and and that is the one that is responsible for for all of your rotation on both sides of your body so you know turn to the left turn to the right it all comes from there um i was like all right great so you know i was in i was in a lot of pain at that time a lot of back pain with it and i couldn’t sit for very long and you know he gave me percocet he’s like you know take this for the pain and um you have to do physical therapy we’ll see if physical therapy would help kind of move the herniated portion back to where it needs to be so so what happened was my my disc kind of like broke and there’s like chunks of it hanging and part of it was hanging on the nerve root that’s like right outside of your spine so your spine has these columns it’s got these you know your spinal bones in it the discs are what cushion it and then there’s like all these nerve roots so my herniation was sitting on my nerve root and that was causing the burning that was causing the the feelings of numbness and and that tingling that was going down my leg this went on for a very long time um but i learned how to self-medicate with percocet and you know for me being the drunk that i was i enjoyed not really being in my mental state as opposed to being in an altered state and i found that these percocets did very well with that um and i got to take them at work because they were prescribed because they were prescribed by a doctor and um that was wonderful you know and then i had found two um were they performance enhancing while you were at work absolutely so so they were there’s two great things about percocet the first one was it would knock out any hangover that i put on myself really yes who knew so there you go right over here yes who needs that caffeine and tylenol right so i found that i could get completely [ _ ] tanked and i could clean myself up with a hot shower and some percocet every morning and hey my back hurt too so now at that point were you still taking them as prescribed generally yes and with the hangover days i was like well technically i’m in pain because i hurt so bad for my hangover so yeah you know it all worked out really well for me that’s why i’m here right yeah yeah it seemed well so that was my life for uh quite a while and and i’ll just learn there this job that i had i found that the the mindset of the people there were a lot like mine like they liked to party hard we’d love to go to happy hour we would take off we we’ll go to lunch and not come back and we’ll just drink all afternoon and that was always a great day and that that happened more often than you would think at most like you know privately held companies so going back to that money episode make sure you’re fiduciary aren’t at the bar all afternoon that’s right yeah so um you know for me like life life was still really good i had this major back issue that i completely ignored i medicated with it um i i was able to to drink my face off and since i was drinking my face off with my co-workers to me it didn’t matter what i looked like every day coming in right so uh so this lasted a while and then um a really cool thing happened my company decided that they were going to send my department home to work full-time at home yes so now it really didn’t matter what i looked like on a daily basis right so uh you know i go through life like this for a while um back pain kind of persists it doesn’t get better physical therapy doesn’t really help i’m not doing anything to help myself outside of going to physical therapy and taking the percocet so so it just progresses it progresses and it progresses and it goes on for probably three years in the in the midst of those three years i had a very minor surgery um where they can go in and they called a discectomy so what they did was they went in they cut cut me up in the back and they cut off that herniation that was sitting on the nerve root that alleviate alleviated my pain i was better my doctor’s like all right you can go back to your normal life so i’ll go back to playing flag football i go back to drinking on the sidelines you know partying afterwards and within about three months i completely ruined it all uh herniated the [ _ ] out of that disc and um got into really bad shape so i started to see a doctor a spine specialist down in uh towson he’s actually world renowned a friend had recommended him to me so i go in there you know i start seeing his pa and um i get my prescriptions from them and again same thing physical therapy you know just do this and we’ll try so i try and i try and uh probably about after two years of seeing them they decided that physical therapy wasn’t working only only two years yeah who would have known and uh we ended up deciding that a spinal fusion would be the best bet for me so we’re gonna fuse the l5 and s1 dis um sorry um i guess vertebrae together and again this is this is your rotation this is your movement and your body this is like the big daddy for your spine and and your lower back and back functioning i was like okay um they’re like don’t worry about you know we’ll take care of you you’ll you’ll get all the medications that you need and all this kind of stuff i was like okay so we do it and um my reward in my mind was well i’m gonna have a boatload of painkillers for this you know it’s it’s gonna be awesome and while we’re waiting for surgery to happen uh you know i’m hobbling through my house i’m working at home i can barely make it from my bed to my office even if i am on my medications so i’m complaining to my doctor and he’s like pete you don’t have to be a hero he’s like you know if if you need to take more than prescribed then take more than prescribe well that was my green light right yeah yeah man so i’m i’m like all right well i can’t make it on what i’m taking so let’s double it and then let’s triple it and that all worked out very well sounds reasonable yeah i mean seriously i mean why wouldn’t you um the one thing i found with this is you know i’m in pain and i’m trying to concentrate on my work and i found that this this did actually amp me up man i mean this just helped me focus zero in on what i was doing and i i felt like i was the king of the world you know so i’m i’m flying through life i’m flying through my job i have this major back surgery they give me a bottle of like 300 plus percocets every month wow and i just go off to the races you know and um hold up 300 a month what does that work out to uh like wow yeah so um and they did that for a year so after that year that must have been what the early 2000s that was uh 2009 or 10. yeah so it was really right before a lot of this big i was going to say then that changed a lot in the late 2000s you get a bonus in february when there’s two extra days

yeah so i um you know i i really went to town on it and uh after a year of my glory i was still in a boatload of pain and they’re like you know there’s nothing more we can do for you this is after the surgery this is after the surgery a year later and they’re like you know we’re gonna put you in pain management and i was like okay so i go to pain management and you know i start seeing a pain management doctor and lo and behold of course they have all sorts of cures for you right let’s just say by by i was in pain management for probably like two years two or three years and by the middle of it she had me on eight or nine different medications i was on an antidepressant i was on a nerve painkiller i was on a short-term opioid for my short-term pain i was on a long-term opioid for you know to manage and prevent that pain i was on um some sort of medication that enhances the receptors in your brain so that you can feel the medication better um

okay so i was on she kept giving me percocet and i’m sorry that was kind of mistake that was for your breakthrough pain yeah i was going to say they caught you i was going to use that term they call it breakthrough pain that’s when the pain is greater than the normal pain so you feel it through the opioids that you’re already and so so long term in this sense is more of a preventative measure so you just take it every day all the time so that hopefully you don’t ever feel pain when does the doctor say you know pete it’d be cheaper if you just did heroin because well that’s common so well can i just real quick sure did they offer any other solutions besides medications or was it really just here’s medications that’s what we do quite honestly i’ve been removed from pain management for 11 years now things could have completely changed i don’t know right but at that time it was all medication-driven so we got to a point where i was just miserable i was in pain i was i i knew i was addicted to percocet i i didn’t know what that meant i still you know i didn’t know what an attic mentality was um so i was like look you know you had told me about this patch that i could wear i i was like i think it started with like an f or something and uh oh the old fentanyl yeah and uh she’s like and i was like you know and that would help like prevent the pain i was like you know can we can we try that now she’s like yeah sure so aside from the eight medications i was on she put me on fentanyl and uh boy did i like that wow you know it took um it took probably like a month or two so with pain management you go in like once a month you get all your scripts you get all your refills and all that so it took about a month or two to get the dosage right and when they did i was high for three straight days i used to i i remember it i mean it’s the one i always chased right yeah so i i was driving down the highway to work and i’m just like oh yeah this is what life is gonna be like life is okay my only exposure i was dating a girl and i was starting to get ill and her aunt was on fentanyl patches and she gave me one and then i got locked up i was like the warmest happiest locked up dude for two days i came out i was still well i’m like wow this is great yeah so so you know how i felt oh yeah i mean i was like okay if life is going to be like this this this i can manage i can manage this dress tolerable yeah yeah and again i have a script to feel like this right right all legal yeah all legal doctors so um obviously work didn’t work out too well i uh i left that job where i was at home um you know things started to not go my way and like any good addict i left so tried again tried again eventually i found a job um you know i started having some uh performance issues at work uh specifically um i would sit at a desk and i would pass out and uh is that what you call it when it’s from a doctor it’s called nodding out when you’re on heroin yeah just passed out

so i had to wear collared shirts to work and what would wake me up is that my neck would be absolutely freezing and the reason it was freezing is because all the drool was going down the side and collecting on the side collar of my shirt and that is what would wake me up i had people to the left and to the right away no it would wake me up nobody would not you know hit me up with me or nothing and this happened a lot um i don’t know if my boss ever saw it but you know when you’re dependent on a pain management doctor and when you’re in chronic pain or actually you know when you’re in addiction you know how like the littlest thing becomes the most important thing in the world well well obviously every one of my issues and my balance with pain were like the top priority so i spent a lot of time running to my boss saying oh my god i gotta go to my doctor i gotta go to my doctor and you know he had kind of had enough of it so one time i went in and he’s like he’s like all right i was like you know sir i i i called my doctor i’m in a lot of pain i gotta go see him i’m gonna take the afternoon off i’ll be back tomorrow morning and he’s like all right he’s like you know you have a minute i was like yeah he’s like you know have a seat and i was like all right and he’s like you know uh i’ve been talking to hr about you i’m like oh and i said to myself i was like yeah that’s never good i was like okay i was like what uh what hr have to say and he’s like well he’s like look i know you’re struggling and he’s like you know there’s hope if you need it and he’s like you know we need you here pete and he’s like you’ve got to make a decision he’s like either you get help or you have to find a new job i was like okay um my wife and i just had a baby about three months before this conversation and i’d been in pain for over a decade and i knew by being previously fired from two jobs within a matter of three months and i’d held on to this one for like not a year that i should probably think about getting something yeah and starting to see the end of the road coming you know um so so i was like all right you know so so i went to my doctor and i was like look well let me let me preface that with i i’ve been trying a lot of different things in addition to pain management to try to manage this pain so i was seeing an acupuncturist in hammer degrees and god she she saw right through me from day one and you know she told me about this place called father mountains actually and i didn’t know anything about it and she gave me a pamphlet and she’s like you know you should really consider going there so i took him to my wife and i was like look you know she thinks this might help me i i didn’t again i didn’t know anything about addiction i didn’t know anything about recovery and she’s like oh pete this is this is for addicts this isn’t you you don’t need this how even your wife wasn’t aware of no no how does how does the acupuncturist have father martin’s ashley’s like because she talks programming because she did acupuncture there oh she did it there i was going to say that so i saw her at her like hers private practice and she also worked at ashley until and i wonder she probably just saw a lot of people come in with pain yeah i was like see addicts though yeah pain you know what i mean what’s her pain for the pain and you know i told her everything i was on i mean she was like a doctor right so i told her all the medications and she’s like i’m sure she’s just like yeah this guy i know where he needs to be so so you know i take it to my wife she’s like yeah you know this that’s not for you you know they’re talking about like addicts on the street and all that kind of stuff i was like oh okay so so anyway you know i go my boss gives me that ultimatum i go to my doctor that afternoon and i’m like look i was my boss said i need to get help i was like this acupuncturist i’m seeing and give me this thing for this this rehab facility you know i’m i’m gonna go she’s like okay and i was like doc i gotta ask you i was like you know when i’m off of all this medication you know how’s my life going to be and she goes you’re going to be absolutely miserable and i’m like wow

glaring review yeah and um you know but but i didn’t have a choice and i knew i knew in my heart that you know this was it for me so so i made arrangements and i went and i went to a pain recovery program and uh yeah they specifically have a pain management program at this particular rehab not all rehabs have that yeah i would imagine most probably don’t yeah but they have and i don’t know about that much about it but i’ve heard it’s pretty good yeah yeah so i went through the early days of this this pain recovery program and um you know for for me it was good uh they they helped me get off of everything that i needed to get off of they uh taught me about diet and nutrition and uh physical therapy meditation um you know all these different things to help manage your chronic pain and do different things with it and try to you know try to get past the dark days and um move on to the next day so so one of the big things that i took away from that program um it’s just it’s a mental state all right so so as i kind of alluded to you know what us as addicts when we’re in that using state and everything is just the top focus and you obsess about it and it’s the you know you’re making mountains out of mole hills as you know i think we say so so yeah there’s this there there’s this mental aspect called cognitive behavioral therapy and it’s all about how you frame in your mind you know what is going on and what you’re feeling at that time so a big thing for me was to say okay yeah you know i’m in pain today i’m not feeling great i have a bad attitude but it’s it’s just today tomorrow’s a new day you know the sun is shining and just take a step back and think about tomorrow instead and just say you know just tell yourself this is temporary it will pass and i will move on so so it’s the opposite of eckhart tolle power of now yeah yeah i was going to say that it is the anti-mindfulness yeah it is living tomorrow but you know when you’re in chronic pain every did you have you guys ever seen uh office space yes yes so so peter in there he tells a therapist he’s like you know did you ever feel like every day is the worst day of your life well with chronic pain man every day is the worst day of your life you know it just it eats you alive it breaks your mind body and soul it does and you know i’ve been i’ve been working a lot with um ashley lately and one of the things that i i find looking back is that my chronic pain was an obsession just just like you know the drugs are just like the alcohol was um when you’re in pain that is all you can think about it’s that pinnacle it’s like oh my god you know if i do this is it going to make me hurt i want to go do this with my friends but what if i start having pain what am i going to do then and you you give up on life man um well and i think uh it’s good to recognize too like that is real pain like you are legitimately hurting so they are real concerns yeah but isn’t there also something called the opioid-induced hyperalgesia that makes you even more sensitive to pain so the pain that you feel is now magnified from the long-term opioids so yes so hyperalgesia is is when um you know you’re taking these opioids and and the way that opioids work is they bind to the pain receptors and they feel that pain receptors so that you no longer have the pain hyperalgesia is making those pain receptors multiplying your body that’s how you build up a tolerance and then you have to start taking more in order to fill those additional pain receptors and yeah it’s it’s kind of i’m not a doctor but it’s kind of how your body builds up that addiction and that tolerance to the medications yeah so so your body is basically manufacturing pain through these pain receptors although you’re not really in pain right so it’s it’s this cycle they talk about a pain cycle and i you know this is all part of it you have to break that cycle in order to get out of the the chronic pain state and that was one of the things that i i think i got through when i was in the pain recovery program was it was getting through that pain cycle on a scale of crying face to smiley face how bad was your pain yeah right um so before i went in it was definitely the crying face right uh i i tell this a lot when i when i talk about my story um i work down in the inner harbor so every day at lunch i would go out and i’ll take a walk around the harbor when i was using and i was very close to the end for me i would take a walk at lunch time i would call my wife in tears saying i can’t do it i can’t make it through the day i’ve got to come home and just get some sleep and she powered me up man she’s like you got a kid you got to stay there you gotta get through the day it’s only three or four more hours you gotta push through and and i mean she she pushed me through every single day for months on end and uh yeah that was that was crying face um you know i i got out of i i got out of the pain recovery program i got the tools that i needed and and i was probably like a straight across face you know um my pain wasn’t completely cured it’s not a cure for it but i had tools to manage it but i i didn’t i didn’t implement those tools when i got out okay so so the people that knew me when i first came to n a they knew that you could see it on my face you could see i was still in a lot of pain uh i i couldn’t sit through a meeting for an entire hour and a holding chair i’d always get up i’d go stand against the wall i’d walk around and kind of stretch out and um you know i was i was living but i wasn’t living life you know i was i want to live life after 13 years of this crap right so um you know i i decided one day uh let’s let’s let’s go take a step back so so a friend of mine asked me to be in his bachelor party and i was like yeah sure so um you know i was one of his groomsmen and we went uh i don’t know we were hanging out like before the wedding or something i think we went to get lunch and and my friend was like yeah you know i i get up every day and i go to the gym before work well my friend was a plumber and he would get up i knew that he got up early to work and he did like you know the manual digging and like a real manual labor job and i’m like damn if he can get up and go to the gym before he goes and does that all day long there’s absolutely no reason i can’t go to the gym and like swim some laps before i go sit at a desk all day right so so that changed my entire life man um i uh i decided i’d start doing that so you know two or three i guess it’s probably like three days a week i started just swimming some laps before uh going to work every day i’d stop by the gym at like 5 30 6 in the morning swim for about a half hour 45 minutes and then shower and go on my way and um yeah i started to feel a little better i i got this um endorphins running pretty much every day and that would that would really change my mood and my mindset and my spirit and and really just kind of wash away some of those uh some of that pain that i was feeling still and i just found the more that i did it the more i felt that way and i was i started realizing that you know what i’d get real sore at night and i get real tired and i’m like you know what that’s fine because at least i have like this half a day where the endorphins are going and i feel i feel normal again so i was like okay so i started doing this and i kept doing it then i got in a car accident i got crunched from behind by someone going about 40 miles an hour and uh it set me back like three years man i i felt like i felt like i was just back to where i was before i went to rehab and um lunchtime swim too yeah well

do we need a 12-step swimming program you know i’m telling you man you should have one there it’s great for everybody addicts and no addicts it doesn’t matter this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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um you know so i got this car accident and i was in really bad shape so so my friend another friend of mine is a physical therapist i had to checked me out when you after the car accident did they put you back on opioids were you back no i i refused opioids um i also i was able to actually walk away from the accident with a lot of pain but i’ve been in pain for 13 years and i’m like look i know this pain this is nothing right you know but the pain got as bad as yeah yeah but the pain did and it started like you know instead of me not having like good morning stuff like that it was kind of like i wake up fiona got hit by a truck all that kind of stuff all over again but um you know i had my physical therapist friend check me out and he’s like all right it feels like it’s all just pretty much muscular so i don’t he’s like i don’t think you have any structural damage he’s like you should see your doctor get an x-ray make sure i did that i was fine um but what he did do is he referred me to one of his co-workers that specialized in spines and man i i went to see her for like two years and and so i learned a lot while i was there um you know like if you think about having a major back surgery what they do is they they cut through your back right so you have all these little muscles you have all these nerves you have all this stuff in your back and i had surgery when i was 29 so that that means that i had 29 years to grow i had 29 years of working those muscles having having my body work correctly everything was in place and all that kind of stuff well they cut through them they caught all that the [ __ ] man you know and afterwards i healed but i didn’t heal and none of that crap worked so you know you go swimming and yeah i felt better but like my hips would hurt my you know i’d get these pains in my lower back and i’m like all right well i did that to myself and it’s just it’s going to take time because i’ve got to strengthen it well the problem was is not all my muscles were firing throughout all my body anymore because of that surgery so she spent two years working on all these little muscles getting everything to fire again and getting my body working again and my body working like a normal body and that is what saved me man i came out of there and i was like you know my friend asked me to do this swim team with him what do you think she’s like yeah go for it so i did and dude i i go and do like this adult swim team three days a week i lift weights like one to two days a week during the pandemic i bought a road bike and i was biking up to like 40 miles out of time um i even started running on a treadmill for the first time in 20 years and do you have those crazy freaky calves of those guys that i don’t have one of them right that looks ridiculous

doing physical therapy swimming which was you know that was my threshold swimming swimming is what what cured me it’s not a cure for everybody i realized that but doing that exercise strengthening what swimming does do is it strengthens every muscle in your body it works on your core it works on your lower back muscles it works on those hip muscles your hip flexors everything it strengthens them at least so i got a lot of strength back i lost the 30 40 pounds i started to what i call pound my body with antioxidants cause i was i was obsessed with it in the sense that hey you know antioxidants should help you know clean out some of the crap in your body and um you know i probably wouldn’t have as much inflammation and i probably feel better and i do can you imagine coming in to get off heroin and somebody’s like bro it’s blueberries yeah lots of blueberries don’t forget the blackberries yeah blackberries all day you know but but the thing is is i’m not in pain anymore and it took me 13 years and it took a boatload of self-induced physical pain from doing swim team and knowing that telling myself look i could either be in pain for no apparent reason aside from the chronic pain or i could do something that i know is going to help my body and help me feel better and cause some pain that i know that i caused that’s going to get better over time and and again that’s all that framing that’s that behavioral cognitive therapy like to not give up to not give in to the the pain of it and look to the other side and that’s what i did for that’s what i’ve been doing for like three years and today i’ve been more pain you know every new person i meet in a meeting and be like my buddy says swimming in blackberries bro yeah just women in black blackberries blueberries don’t forget raspberries any strawberries something there about like the pain and i guess i always call it good pain and bad pain so like my wife and i we both exercise and like certain days i’ll come out and i’ll be like oh i’m kind of sore today you know or i hit it pretty good yesterday i’m kind of sore and she will say to me sometimes like oh that’s not good i’m like well there’s a difference between like i know when i’ve physically exerted a lot of energy and i’m like that’s part of the growth process yeah um i think it’s important that we get in touch with our bodies to know the difference like i don’t think a lot of people recognize that there’s a difference yeah yeah you know i think yeah i mean you a lot of people they feel pain it’s like a fear factor so so they they get that upset attitude they start focusing on it and you know for my experience of being that way for for so incredibly long on a daily basis i i’m able to say you know no i’m not going to do that i’m going to look past that today and and i can real i can realize today that my muscle pain you know that i’m feeling from from working out is not the same as that that pain that just drove my life for 13 years yeah and that’s the same i’ll go i’ll run sometimes and i’ll be like my knee will start feeling weird and i’ll just be like nope that’s it i’m not like that’s a different kind of pain than like a muscle pain and i need to stop before i hurt something but it’s taken practice to get to know the difference yeah yeah you’ve got to experience it multiple times and you know so like for you yeah you had the knee pain the first time then you gave it a little rest and it went away so you’re like all right well that was just it’s temporary you know right nothing to get get worried about and i think that’s another problem with so we hear this like pain management term thrown around yeah and for a long time i don’t what that really meant was pain avoidance or pain riddance like people went with and our whole medical system now is based on sort of that you know you go into the emergency room one of the first things they ask you is like all right rate your pain on a scale of one to ten well one that’s completely subjective to whoever the individual is there you know it’s the scale is totally arbitrary though what subjective well not necessarily i mean if you break your leg you are going to experience pain you know what i mean and if i break my leg and you break your lane leg and i go in and say well my pain’s like a six and you say your pain’s a ten do we really want to treat them different i would think so hmm and i see i think not i think we should have weigh in pete treatments for these things i mean if i can’t tolerate the pain the way you can like i get it you can call me a [ _ ] but it’s not about being a [ _ ] it’s that we i think there’s an expectation that we’re not supposed to feel discomfort or pain and we perpetuate that idea in people’s minds and then they think oh my knee hurts i need something to fix it yeah i mean you know pain is it’s it’s a basic reaction you know it’s built into every single kind of animal that’s out there right so except in freak cases i think in general you know what what billy’s been saying i i i really think that our medical system has been based upon prescribing pills for everything there’s a pill for that there’s a pill for that there’s a pill for that um i don’t disagree with that i just feel like if i go in and rate pain as 10 the highest pain i could possibly conceive feeling even if we have the same injury i i think we need to take into account the person saying this is the worst pain i can conceive of feeling all right so i agree let me tell you an experience i had recently so um i would say probably like two or three years ago i had a tumor in my mouth and it turned out to be malignant um benign with the non-cancerous one but uh you know i had to get it removed so i go to this oral surgeon i fill up my paperwork they have the ad questions there i say yes i am an addict surgery happens talking to the doctor he’s like all right he’s like i’m gonna give you um i’m going to give you some episodes for this i was like no i don’t think that’s a good idea and he’s like why is that not a good idea i was like well really bad things happen when i’m when i take opioids and he’s like well what happens i’m like well i’m an addict i filled it out on your paperwork i was like i do not want to open anything they ask and don’t pay any attention yeah they asked i filled out the paperwork didn’t even look at it and then he’s like pushing it on me too i’m like no i don’t want it you know and i’m like that that is the medical system yeah i mean i had a similar with with tooth i had to get some wisdom teeth cut out and they’re like oh you know we’re gonna prescribe and i said i don’t need anything i’ll be fine i’ll you know oh no you’re gonna need these you you definitely want to take this and they talk me into taking the prescription and i did end up taking it i didn’t take the medication but i took the prescription and then i didn’t need it i was fine but it’s like if they start planning that idea in my head like you’re going to be in a lot of pain then when the surgery is over i’m like i think i’m going to be in a lot of pain i better take this medic you know let’s take that one step further i had a shoulder surgery and pushed back against pain medication and they told me no this is part of the healing process your body won’t relax enough to heal without it yeah i’m like oh i guess i better take it see what else when i was getting all that percocet from my surgeon he had like a nurse that was you know like a caseworker type thing she helped saw all the patients i told her i was like you know i feel like i’m trying to get an addiction to these she’s like oh don’t worry think about them as your tools this is part of your tool belt to get through this pain yeah batman just pull out your perks you’ll be keep crime fighting all night yeah you know um yeah so so i anyway jason you know back to your question i mean yeah pain i think pain is subjective and and i do think that there is more of a responsibility for the medical professionals to take in the account that if you’re in excruciating pain and billy’s in moderate pain then you know manage that painkiller the right way that you’re going to give to that person telling people like this shit’s addictive like if you got an addictive personality you really got to be careful i mean the myth that all men are created equal is a complete made-up fallacy like we’re all biologically very different right our experiences of of what sweet tastes like like i don’t know what coffee tastes like to you pete i have no [ _ ] idea what you experience coffee has right so yeah i just i don’t think we should just oh well broken leg that requires this amount of medicine like you know if you’re feeling it worse than somebody else like especially if you got two people in different ends of the pain spectrum the pain tolerance spectrum like i mean you have to i don’t think we let people suffer just because we’ve decided that pain is one person reports a six and one to ten i’m not disagreeing that the medical system is not [ _ ] up with the way we treat things i’m just saying like i do think we have to take into account the subjectivity of what it feels like for each individual that’s that’s and i guess i worry about that the other way like if i go in for some sort of treatment of an illness or an injury and i say i’m an addict like i don’t want them to treat me different than they would treat anyone else like i want the best [ _ ] whatever you got like you tell me what that is okay there’s a guy not treat me there’s a guy in baltimore he shares in his story he’s like look it’s amazing what the body can tolerate i went and saw like a shaman before i had this crazy open chest surgery they like literally cut his ass open and [ _ ] like this and did some work i don’t know the whole story but just for late in this part saw shaman meditation teacher did all these people like can i handle this pain without you know any narcotic drugs whatever and and he did he went through the experience he’s like yes it was [ _ ] painful but you’d be surprised what the human body can actually tolerate when that’s what you want to do right an old uh nietzsche quote uh when a person has a why for living a person can deal with almost any how right so basically his purpose was to get through it without pain medicine and he did but you got two different people who look at that right one person’s like oh my god that’s so admirable i want to do that too and then there’s the other person that’s like yeah that sounds [ _ ] crazy like a martyr i don’t want to go through that and i’ve had surgeries in recovery where i’ve taken pain medication i mean my problem is as an addict like i you know my personal experience was i took it for like a day or two because i had some pins put in my thumb and you know like a day or two in i’m like i think i’m feeling some pain now i think it’s time to get another pill and i probably should take two like i caught myself thinking that way yeah but don’t you question now i probably could have made it without that like i wouldn’t have died from the pain well i ended up flushing them down the toilet and i don’t i mean i at the time i had a sponsor that said look we’re not supposed to live like [ _ ] cavemen like we’re not we have science to help us get through things but that’s funny you also have to be aware of your you know we always talk and you listen to like books and podcasts that say like we’d probably be better off if we lived sort of more like cavemen in that aspect and probably true huh interesting well it’s i you know i i don’t know how good it is for your back to sleep on a floor either but they make beds now so i’m gonna sleep i’m gonna find a cave for myself personally but it might be better for my back you know they say they’re super soft beds are terrible for your back so you know yeah who knows maybe a little bit better a slab in my bedroom all right i’m gonna go and tell my wife we’re getting rid of the bed that’s fine sleeping on the floor and cold showers turning off the water blackberries and swimming goddamn it so do you still live in tomorrow no i live in today now yeah so the living in tomorrow was only like a means to get to a place so it’s it’s more of a mindset that you know if i have a bad day then i i essentially try to look past today to tomorrow like 6 00 a.m 6 a.m you’re like yep [ _ ] it today’s already a wrap it’s gonna suck but no not so much that so so generally you know what what i’ll do is i you know i i will try i know for me that exercise is my key to getting rid of pain so i will do if if i have the time i’ll go do a swim that maybe wasn’t planned or i’ll at least go out and get a walk try to get the sunshine get some fresh air for a half hour and just see if that helps mitigate you know my my down feelings and and the little bit of pain that i’m feeling generally that usually helps um if if it doesn’t you know and i’m still having a bad day at like three four o’clock yeah you know it’s like look it’s temporary just deal with it and then tomorrow’s a new day what was this uh this lady you saw for two years that worked out all the little muscles was she a physical therapist yeah

and it’s not the type of physical therapist that i had experienced my entire life through sports um you know you go to if you impact maybe your childhood you might have gone to physical therapy and they do you know they teach you stretches you do some e-stim they put some ice packs on you they might give you some exercises to do at home um that is what i thought i was getting into but no i mean this was manual therapy this was massage this was dry needling this was cupping so i looked like michael phelps with cup marks all over my back yeah um and it was awesome it was uh it was amazing i mean she gave me some stretches and stuff to do too which i did but i was i was physically active a lot so i was always pretty much stretch stretching my body but you found her through like a recommendation she would be listed as a physical therapist yeah i found i i found her through my uh my best friend as a you know she was a co-worker and um so he works he works for this physical therapy company that that does like a lot of manual therapy and stuff like they all do it and i i think he just didn’t want to work on me um because because of our relationship so yeah he just referred me to a third party is dry needling to needling what dry humping is to humping and then it’s cupping like spooning

are these we know what kind of did you see was this a prostitute for two years that made you feel better we just figured it out don’t don’t you feel better afterwards i mean two years i probably i’d probably be all better too how many times a day what’s this ladies you know it was like an hour three or four times a week it was great

i think i only need two minutes is there a discounted rate do they prorate this i suggest the whole hour

but what the hell is dry needling so um they use it’s it’s a western practice or eastern i guess depending on where you are i think it’s like an ancient chinese type thing they use these real real thin super thin like hair thin needles and they stick them right into the muscle and the idea is to make it so so if you have a tight muscle you think about like yeah it’s real sore to like extend my arm and everything well what they do is the idea behind dry needling is if you make that muscle contract real quickly then it’ll release and it won’t be sore anymore so they stick a needle in your tight muscle and get it to contract real quick and then but not acupuncture not acupuncture is different yeah so acupuncture works on there there’s this theory of like um i guess you can say electric pathways throughout your body and that’s what um acupuncture works on by pinpointing different energies energies within the same pathways and different pathways to i guess kind of make it all connect again maybe but this is deeper like this is muscular only is the dry needling so it’s just it sounds deeper than acupuncture though it sounds like it’s i think it sounds like it hurts do you get pain management after the dry needle that sounds rough get some massage right yeah a little cupping i i enjoyed the cupping

what does what does that do is specific like what what exactly would it well it’s like suction cups all over it is and you know it’s really weird okay so let’s say you have a cup on your shoulder where you can actually see it this thing literally sucks like your skin and muscle up into this cup and i mean it looks like this this monstrous pimple like that is like you know the size of a half dollar or or more depending on the size of the cup that’s used um i guess the same idea maybe is to help the muscles stretch and release maybe that reminds me like when my daughters were doing like this kylie jenner lip challenge and sucking their top lip into a bottle or something and it would come out puffy and stupid looking i’m like what are you doing you’re dumb yeah i mean i’ve known a few people in recovery that have had back issues you know since they were clean and i hate to say this but almost every story sounds so similar to yours it’s like it starts with some minor surgery and that doesn’t help and then it goes to like major surgery and that doesn’t help and then they’re still in this chronic pain and they want to be prescribed pain medications and that’s been one of my biggest fears as i get a little bit older you know start approaching 50 i’m like man i hope my back doesn’t start hurting because i mean i’m telling you so so like any sort you know it doesn’t have to be swimming like for me i i swam i didn’t swim competitively but i swam my whole life so it was very natural for me to find that as a sport to do but that exercise any sort of exercise you do where i guess you minimize impact on your back so running is probably terrible for people with back pain is going to help you feel better you’re going to build strength and you’re going to work those muscles and and build core strength which is probably one of the reasons why you’re having back pain anyways you know something’s off with your core or like your lower back is not as strong as your core in the front and they’re pulling on each other all that kind of thing so no bull riding yeah well wrestling i could see bull riding really stretching you out yeah there might be a little bit of impact there but yeah okay so you’re really into like the humping type version i guess yeah there’s something about that riding um if i so i i don’t i mean i do have some back pain but i also have you know we talked about emotional pain depression like this this discontent dis-ease with life yeah say i i’m like you know what [ __ ] it i’m all in pete’s right i’m i’m doing this thing i go see this lady i get my my cup and my dry needling i go swimming i’m doing the blackberries how long till i feel better all right so that’s a really good question um let’s first talk about let’s first talk about diet all right so you know as i said i didn’t do anything that was recommended when i came out of recovery i i ballooned back up i was a fat bastard i loved my cheesesteaks you know i didn’t have any beer with them but i i ate terribly and i put all that weight back on too man you know um what i have found is when i when i decided that i needed to just clean up my diet you know go salads chicken all natural um not not necessarily paleo but really you know cut out a lot of the manufactured crap that’s out there um what i found was it was at least six months and the reason for that and i think that’s why people fail on dieting is because they want a quick fix and after they’re like oh my god i’ve given this like three months and you know nothing’s really happened

my belief is you’ve probably heard your body reproduce as it cells all the time and it’s you know every day you’re getting new cells in your body and other cells are dying well when you start putting these good things into your body and eliminating the crap you still have all that crap in your body right and so all those cells are cleaned out until your body is like 100 refreshed like you still have your cells are still holding on to all the processed crap in the world that you can’t you can’t um create energy out of you can’t do anything with and they probably cause that inflammation that i’m attacking with my antioxidants right so my my belief in my experience was that it definitely took like six months and i could see physical changes in my body you know from doing the swimming i could see that my muscle my upper body was getting bigger my weight didn’t change at all and that was very very depressing but um i dropped like i literally had went through three different wardrobes of clothes in a year and a half wow you know so i went from like a 38 down to a 32 but it took a year and a half and and for me to really start feeling better it took like six months but again it’s back to that cbt it’s back to telling yourself i’m doing the right thing it’s going to take time it will pay off in the end of course good in six months yeah well and after 13 years on pain meds i mean i figured six months but think about it so you know you’re going through a rough patch you could wake up every day and do nothing to help yourself get through that rough patch and you can feel the same or you could do things that you know are good for a body that you know are good for your mind and good for your soul and you could feel better or you may not feel better today but you say you know if i keep doing this i know that i’m doing the right thing for myself and i feel better in the long run and that long run could be different for everybody i mean for me you know with all the pain that i introduced with all the swimming and everything it definitely took me like two years but i just kept at it and i’m like you know what two years of self-induced pain versus 13 years of chronic pain i’ll take it are you still married to the same lady that told you you didn’t need ashley’s do you ever ever bring that up every once in a while man how wrong were you i don’t know if i could take your your advice is suspect you didn’t even know i was the one honey refrigerator but you remember when you wanted me to not go to ashley yeah i don’t think we’re gonna go with your refrigerator

i i am and you know what she’s a godsend she sounds like an amazing woman she’s she put up with so much unbelievable stupid drunken crap and then years of me being just miserable and in pain and probably completely intolerable from anyone else that had to be around we should almost have her on i know her side of this story i mean

well and really like i i guess for me what i’ve experienced at times as i’ve changed somewhat um for the healthier is there’s almost a backlash to it right like i’m like she could tolerate pete when he was a uh you know a self-described uh angry drunk you know fat bastard or whatever but now like this guy who’s like eating healthy and swimming and he’s gotta be like who the [ __ ] like right yeah stranger get out of my house

the [ _ ] does this healthy guy think he is god damn it where’s that [ _ ] i mean right it was nice every once in a while yeah any uh so any what thoughts do you give people like who might want to explore this root like i is this like fibromyalgia is this lower back pain so this is i mean for my experience you know definitely back pain um i i think that if you have pain in general like so i know i’ve been harping on exercise but that that that’s my experience and and to me that is my cure but i think that if you can find anything that basically distracts you from your chronic pain even for a little while then that is something that you can pursue and use as a tool you know so let’s just use an example of maybe like someone that’s really good at art if if they can you know they’re in pain they’re not feeling great if they just kind of sit down and start drawing whatever comes to mind for a while and if that either has a therapeutic benefit to them or it’s like wow you know when when i’m done like wow i just spent two hours drawing and i didn’t even think about my pain that’s a win you know why don’t you write a book that’s like the antithesis to eckhart tolle’s

so i know you know there’s a lot of people that go through these chronic pain programs that you know they’re older and and they’re in really bad shape you know they’re 75 they’re not going to wake up and swim for an hour and a half on a swim team three hours three days a week at 4 45 in the morning you know that’s not anything they don’t have any interest in doing but if they have a sedentary lifestyle and they have for years where you know my mom for example she she watches tv all night every night for like five hours like you know you’re feeling bad get up and take a walk and just do a walk daily get get that fresh air i know that there’s science out there that says if you get outside for like even 15 minutes a day and get daylight that can change your entire outlook for your day in that 15 minutes and i’ve experienced that walking around the harbor you know that’s why i do it every day because i’m miserable with my job and i’m like well let me go power up for the afternoon get your shot of vitamin d you know but but honestly it works and getting the endorphins they counteract pain they they really do i don’t know how much 75 year olds want to project themselves into the future that might not uh you know i mean the pain will end but if i make it to tomorrow it could be a better day but um yeah i mean basically you know find find whatever it is that you love and just try you know try doing that to see if it takes you away from yourself and your pain for a bit you know yeah i am i i i i realize i’m encouraging to step outside of yourself yeah it sounds a little counterintuitive but you know what like if if if pain is your obsession yeah it’s breaking now yeah yeah all right so uh if you’re out there stay out of pain uh go somewhere else in time do your blackberries and your swimming and uh i don’t know i no i think this is a valuable thing you know the real key thing i think that i get out of this is like there’s changes we can make there’s things we can do we can at least try like there’s there’s other options out there it doesn’t just mean you’re stuck to a life of pain pills and and you know misery chronic misery yeah all right stay safe out there did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoveryswordof.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on facebook twitter instagram reddit youtube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us