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How to Unmask Chronic Illness Symptoms in The Elderly

How to Unmask Chronic Illness Symptoms in The Elderly


Unmasking the sneaky symptoms that can hurt your elderly parents is something that everyone should be aware off. However, this is not always an easy thing because  there are some medical problems that sometimes have different warning signs in our elderly  parents than they do in us. Thus, how to unmask chronic illness symptoms in your elderly mom or dad can be a huge challenge.

This phenomenon is  called heterogeneity, which means, according to Ken Schmader, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Duke University, “We become more unlike each other as we grow older.” [1] This post will explore how these individualistic symptoms in the elderly can make it more difficult to understand the root causes of their  chronic pain and illness, and what to do about it.

Heterogeneity and its Role in Unmasking Chronic Illness Symptoms

To understand the concept of heterogeneity as it applies to the elderly,  let’s look at an example that is often given called the snow storm scenario.  It goes something like this: “YOU GET STRANDED IN A SNOWSTORM overnight with your 80-year-old father. When you’re rescued the next morning, you’re freezing, but Dad doesn’t feel cold.

Head Shot of A Man Dressed For Snow Storm
Man Dressed for Snow Storm

Explain.

No, “this isn’t one of those annoying logic puzzles where somebody turns out to be a goldfish. Just two adults–both with hypothermia from exposure. But the octogenarian says he’s not cold. The explanation is that wisdom isn’t the only thing that comes with age. Sometimes, different symptoms do, too.” [2]

Different Symptoms as The key to Unmasking Illness in Elderly

Different symptoms means something like hypothermia can be missed in older people. Sure when you’re suffering from hypothermia you’re always going to feel like you’ve just been dumped in an ice bath —real cold. However, your elderly dad may not feel cold—though his skin will be cold to the touch. These are some of the signs you need to look for: puffiness in the face and mottled skin.

Always consider the possibility of hypothermia if your elderly relative has been exposed to the cold.

Blunting of The Thirst Response As  Key to Unmasking Dehydration Symptoms in Elderly

Where cold weather can cause missed symptoms  of hypothermia in the elderly, very hot weather can mask symptoms of dehydration.  Here’s the deal. According to the latest medical research, as you age, the brain’s ability to judge and respond to thirst diminishes so you don’t feel the sensation of thirst. So where you may drink  enough fluids  on an extremely  hot day,  your elderly parent may not. In fact  he or she may not experience any of the harsh symptoms of dehydration—just some light headedness.

If the weather  is hot, you need to make sure that your parent, especially if bed-ridden, gets enough fluids.

Shortness of Breath as Missed Symptom of Heart Attack in Elderly

If you’re 40 or 50 severe  chest pain may be the main symptom of a heart attack. This is also true  with older people  up to age 80. Where things get scary is with much older parents. Your eighty something dad or mom  may be confused, dizzy, and short of breath, and having a heart attack even though he or she is not experiencing  chest pain. “Often for them, shortness of breath (dyspnea) is the paramount symptom of a heart attack.” [3].

Woman Bending Down and Experiencing Shortness of Breath
Woman Experiencing Shortness of Breath

You need to pay a lot of attention if your elderly parent starts experiencing a shortness of breath. This becomes even more urgent if they have experienced a fall.  “One sign of a heart attack can be a fall,” says Deborah Friedlander, M.D., assistant professor of geriatrics at New York Hospital–Cornell University Medical Center, New York City. “Often, the homeostatic mechanisms that keep a person in check will go before the heart attack occurs.” [4]

If an elderly parent starts experiencing  falls, you may  want to check with a heart and lung specialist to assess the risk of a heart attack.

Loneliness as a Missed Symptom of Back Pain

Those who keep up with my website know that I have written  extensively on the causes of back pain. Sometimes back pain can be the result of too much seating, or wearing the wrong shoes. with elderly people, back pain and other chronic conditions can be caused by loneliness.

How Feeling Lonely can harm Your elderly Parent’s health

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but new research suggests that those of us who experience persistent loneliness–an estimated one in five Americans–may face major health consequences.

“A recent study, conducted by researchers at MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, suggests that chronic loneliness among older adults may increase vulnerability to memory problems and dementia.”[5]

Physical problems such as disturbed sleep, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, ulcers, respiratory conditions, poor immune function, headache, low  back pain, and abdominal pain are related to long-term loneliness, as well.

Make time for an  older relative, especially if he or she has  recently lost a partner, who seems lonely. You may be saving  them from a whole host of health problems.

Conclusion

Now you know what to look for when it comes to unmasking chronic illness symptoms in your elderly parents. Remember that the information that I have shared  with you is not by any means exhaustive. For example, in 2004 a team of doctors and researchers at the University of Alberta (U of A), Canada, discovered that vertebral fractures often go undiagnosed or unreported when  elderly patients get chest X-rays to check for other health problems. This happened because those elderly didn’t feel the pain that would indicate they had vertebral fractures. [6]

Before I leave you, let me share with you one more important tip:

Practice what I call VWL—vigilance with love. Your elderly parents may not keep you in the loop as to what is going on with their health.They may be afraid that you’ll think they are just complaining. Worse they may be embarrassed and not give the doctor all the information needed to effectively treat their  chronic condition.

This is  where you need to step up and give  some VWL. To get even better results, you’ll also want to take the time to listen to all their concerns.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

  1. O’Neil, Hugh. “What’s ailing Dad? Unmasking the sneaky symptoms  that can hurt your elderly parents.” Prevention, Aug. 1995, p. 86+
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid

Loneliness: A major challenge Among older adults; research suggests that chronically feeling lonely can harm seniors’ mental and physical health.” Mind, Mood, & Memory, Apr. 2016, p.3.

“Vertebral fractures are under-reported in elderly patients.” Managed Care Weekly, 29 march. 2004, p. 136

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How to Stop Left Side Back Pain After Eating

How to Stop Left Side Bасk Pain After Eating

Back pain —which affects an estimated 80% of all Americans at some time or another—can have many causes. Hоwеvеr, having pain іn  the left side оf the bасk after eating іѕ а symptom nоt experienced bу many. Uѕuаllу, the pain disappears after а couple оf minutes. Unfortunately there are cases when the pain keeps recurring.

Man experiences left side back pain
What left side back pain feels like

Consider this story of a man, I’ll call him Jack, who shared his experience in a forum about  this very subject. Jack states:

“The pain was under my ribs and the area would get tender to touch when I was in pain. It used to be so bad that I sometimes had to lie down to feel better.”

When Eating Worsens Back Pain

In fact it became so bad that he was wary of eating. I feel for Jack. He got an ultrasound and the doctor told him it was just gas. What a relief! But alas, no such luck. A few weeks later the poor fellow started getting very dizzy and anxious, and the pain returned on  the left side.

When Eating  Without  Back Pain  is Taken for Granted

Most of us look forward to a good meal, and  some of us take off  like a dog chasing a car when we need to go to the bathroom. However, no matter how much nature calls, there are people who dread a trip to the bathroom because they are afraid that their  back problem  will cause them to fall. So I can feel for someone  who looks at his or her next meal with anxiety.

Perhaps this is also your concern, and your freaking out about your pain because  you don’t know what’s causing it. This post aims to provide the answers.

Causes оf Bасk Pain after Meals

As most of you know, I am not big on science jargon. So plainly  speaking, here are some causes of back pain after meals: Your kidney and pancreas could be the culprits. These two important organs are housed on the left side of the abdomen. It looks like this:

This shows where the kidney and pancreas are housed
This is where you find the kidney and pancreas

Here’s the deal. Because they are really close to the digestive tract, when you eat you can put pressure on either of these organs and worsen the pain coming from them.

When Fluids Can Cause Left Side Back Pain After Eating—Diverticulitis

A condition called diverticulosis involves the formation оf fluid-filled pouches іn the colon wall. Thеѕе pouches аrе known аѕ diverticula. Thе inflammation оf the diverticula іѕ known аѕ diverticulitis.  “Diverticular disease occurs when the fibre content in the diet is low. If so, you’ll tend to develop higher pressures inside the bowel, which may be increased when you strain to pass a stool. The increased pressure is sufficient to literally cause areas of the bowel to ‘pop’ through the muscle lining.”[1]

This causes pain at the left side of the lower back. You know where I’m going right? Yeah, the pain spikes like crazy on eating meals.

When Bloating Can Signal  Back Pain After Eating–IBS

Technically, IBS is a functional disorder of the large intestine. Normally the muscle works in a coordinated fashion but if you have IBS, the muscles contract irregularly and tend to spasm causing alterations in bowel habit.

“The result is that the nerves in the gut and those controlling the gut are particularly sensitive. So something that would normally not pose a problem to most people, like a little intestinal gas, may cause you pain and bloating”[2]

Bloating can generate back pain
Woman experiencing back pain caused by abdominal bloating

Lactose Intolerance–When Milk Can Cause Back Pain

Lactose is a carbohydrate (natural sugar) found in all milk, including human milk. Lactose intolerance means you aren’t able to easily digest lactose because you do not have enough lactase in your system. Produced by your small intestine, this enz5mrie breaks down lactose in preparation for absorption into your bloodstream. Lactose intolerance саn cause abdominal cramps, which h саn lead tо lower left bасk pain after consuming а lot  of dairy products.

Trouble usually begins 30 minutes after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Common Signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Cramps

Home Remedies to Stop Back Pain After Eating

Eat а banana daily.  Mom was right when she insisted that I eat a banana every day. It  turns out that a banana can protect you against the damaging effects of acidity.

Drink plenty оf water. It flushes  out toxins and helps іn reducing bloating.

Try chewing gum. This tip surprised me, but it makes sense when you think about it. Chewing gum will increase the flow of saliva and help neutralize stomach acid.

Eat high-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as apples, legumes, and broccoli, and fully chew each bite of food. Limit your intake of stimulants, including coffee, soda, and cigarettes; these can tighten up the muscles around your spine.

Take ginger with  tea оr other foods. It will make it a whole lot easier to digest those fat-rich foods.

Learn to stress less—stop triggering your pain

Your emotions have a huge impact on your digestive system.” Researchers talk about the brain-gut axis. Many of the nerve-muscle messengers in the gut are similar to those in the brain, and reactions can be triggered by various emotions.”[3]

What this means is that when you’re stressed your digestive muscles just don’t work as well as they should. Digestive enzymes are secreted in smaller amounts and the passage of food waste through your digestive tract slows. This can cause bloating. Stress can also have the opposite effect of speeding the passage of food through your bowels, causing abdominal pain.

I have devoted several posts on the topic of managing stress. Generally speaking, you can stress less by doing things that will help you relax. These include meditation, gentle yoga, and taking a long walk or a soothing bath.

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Conclusion

It can be confusing  and depressing when eating results in pain  rather than pleasure. It’s natural to ask if anyone has had this before ? Can someone please give me advise on how I can start feeling normal again. I heard you and I hope this post has given you the answers that you were looking for.

  

to find  natural way to stop the stomach  problems that can lead to back pain after eating.

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References

1.“Digestion; Your in-depth introduction to common digestive problems.” Good Health, (Dec. 1, 2010)

2. Ibid

3.Ibid

 

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3 Ways For Pain Sufferers to Reclaim Social Life

3 Ways For Pain Sufferers to Reclaim Social Life

Almost every chronic pain sufferer will tell you that their condition  at one time or another has affected their  social life. The new reality for them is that they  stopped doing the things they used to do. Instead of having  a big S on their  chest or being Wonder Woman, they felt frustrated.

A Man Unbuttons His Shirt and Reveals A Big Superman S on His Chest
How to Feel Like SuperMan
A Photo of Wonder Woman Dressed For Battle
Introducing The New Wonder Woman

Some even became the very things that they  despised in others:

Ice Queen—cold and mean with no regard to how their  angry bitter outbursts affected people around them.

Photo Of The Movie Version Of The Ice Queen
Meet The Ice Queen

Fortunately this doesn’t have to happen to you. You can live a fulfilling life despite your pain. You can learn to direct your energy to participating in things that you enjoy  while living with pain.  Here are 3 ways for pain sufferers to reclaim social life.

Who I’m I to Speak on The Subject?

I am someone who is a caregiver for a mother with chronic back pain. As a result I have spent years immersed in the subject and I have seen up front the challenges  of dealing with daily pain. I know what it feels like when you are unable to stand for too long. So you use the grocery cart as a walker when shopping, like my mom. Or have to ask help vacuuming  the house because of the pressure it puts on the spine. Yes, the light weight vacuuming machines make things a bit easier. But that pressure is still there from all that bending and moving.

A Light Weight Vacuuming Machine Being Used on a Rug
Introducing The Light Weight Vacuuming Machine

My mom at 88 is still blessed with long hair that has withstood  medication that often thins and in some cases prevents hair from growing. That said, washing that glorious hair is exhausting for her. It takes so much out of her that she has to plan an event a day or two after she washes her hair, after she has regained her energy.

Nevertheless pain sufferers to the extent possible want to engage in social life. The tips I give here are not by  some   out of touch “means well but doesn’t get it” friend. I know how frustrating that can be.

I give these tips from a place of acknowledgement. I also understand that  you lost most of your social life when the pain entered your life. However, you might now feel that you want to reclaim some of that social life back. This are some of the ways that you can do it.

  1. Cross-Activities: In previous posts I have talked about Cross-Training. As I explained,  Cross-training is alternating between two or more activities to stay fit. For example, a typical cross-training routine would be to run one day, swim the next, and bicycle another. Some competitive runners, for instance, run in place in water and swim to stay fit while nursing shin splints or other injuries.
A Woman Wearing tights and Red Sneakers is Running on a Sunny Day
A Woman Running in The Sun

 

A Man is Working Out By Taking A Lap in The Pool
A Swim WorkOut

The same concept can be applied to pain sufferers. For example, one may not go to the movies anymore  because the seats are uncomfortable. Instead, one can go to the local theater where management can always make arrangement for special seating. Also a lot of doctors discourage  drinking while taking pain medication. Thus if one used to spend most of her or his relaxing time at the pubs, they can replace bar hopping with football games.

Also, let’s remember why athletes cross train. They want to stay fit doing other  sports that don’t require the use of the same muscles needed for their main sport.

A runner with knee problems will use swimming until his or her knees are healed. Pain sufferers can transform their  skills the same way.  Let’s say you’re a wiz at persuading others to accept your point of view. Why not take those skills and leverage them into a  part time position as  an advocate?  Through out your life, as I stated in an earlier post about adult learners, you have gained skills which you can now transfer into another field of study.

2.Form a Posse of Friends. Some chronic pain conditions  can leave the person with uncontrollable  spasms that can hit anytime. Consider the experiences of this man:

“…one incident was in a supermarket and I got a severe spasm, muscle spasm, and I fell, well I actually collapsed, in the supermarket and like I was pretty about my pain and one of the assistants called the manager and they actually took me for a drunk.” [1]

Friends will give you a peace of mind. You’ll have the comfort  of know that if you have a flare-up, someone will be there to explain your condition. Or drive you home. The point is that there’s no need to sink into a depression. You got friends  who care. You would be surprised of how many are willing to spend time with you. All you need to do is ask. Do it!

3.Use a Power Wheel Chair to Save Energy For Social Life.

To most people, a wheel chair means dependency, but some pain sufferers have found wheel chairs to give them the independence to pursue a social life.  As one chronic pain sufferer puts it:

“…the wheel chair is an extension of my car, so it means  I can drive into town and park and then get out and carry on driving around the shops, which seems very sensible to me, it means I can spend the whole day going shopping  by myself because I’ve got a power wheel chair, so I can whiz around, do all my own shopping, be completely  independent….” [3] Another woman says she uses her power wheel chair to save her “walking energy for going out socially in the evening.

Conclusion

Sometimes I look into the face of my mother and marvel at how fresh is the pain of loss. It has been years now since  her accident, and still at times theres is no sense of release, no closing of the wound that I feel for her.

Time heals all wounds seems to be a big lie. My grief for the life she can no longer go back to could have grown into anger over the years. But she never let that happen. Instead, she has inspired me by her bravery and grit. She has lived a good deal of her life in pain and yet is the same kind caring woman who is moved by the plight of others, and is determined to live a life as full as possible.

I am inspired by mom to make sure that every pain sufferer knows that I believe them. Yes, I know you’re not lazy.

It’s the pain that stops you from keeping the house as clean as you would like. I also know that you’re not looking for someone to tell you that they have found the Holy Grail that will cure  your chronic illness. You have heard that before. No, you’re looking for someone  who understands what you’re going through. I do. I also know that you might need a nudge to go out there and  enjoy  some social life and reconnect to your community. Consider this post that nudge.

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

1

Paula Harper

Diabetes Forecast. 42.8 (Aug. 1989): p58.

2 http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/long-term-conditions/chronic-pain/coming-terms-pain#ixzz55LSLmWQc

3 Ibid

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10 Easy Tips That Will Make You Super Empathic

10 Easy Tips That Will Make You Super Empathic

Do you have a hard time communicating with people who are in daily pain? Here is the problem with chronic wide spread pain. It is both physical and emotional and it can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress. This is why I came up with 10 easy tips that will make you super empathic.

A Man, in a State of Depression, Covers His Face With Both Hands
What Depression Looks Like

While most people may understand something like a broken leg, they have a hard time comprehending something that they can’t see.

Thus, it’s often difficult for pain sufferers to explain how they feel. The result is that chronic pain can lead to isolation and loneliness, partly because it’s difficult to get out but also because people withdraw into themselves.

A Photo, Transparent, Showing The Shy, Sick, Illness, of an Obsessed Man
What Obsession Looks Like

That said, it’s important for people to continue with their  lives as much as possible. However, what if you want to better understand  what life is like for a friend or relative who experiences daily pain.

In a previous post I wrote about a  technology that enabled you to see the pain of  others. In short, a game that fosters empathy for chronic pain sufferers.

As I stated to One of my Readers:

What I like about this technology is that it enables a non-pain sufferer to have empathy for a person who experiences wide spread chronic pain. The technology makes empathy possible by allowing anyone to “see” just how hard it is to maneuver your body at will when suffering from chronic pain. This has the potential to make a tremendous  impact in the field of health technology.

How The Game Works

The creators of the game ,in describing how it works, state :

In the game, participants interact with their altered virtual body — a silhouette they see in a virtual mirror — and complete object-oriented motor tasks. Then, using their whole body, they reach out to connect dots into a line which forms a meaningful shape related to a chronic pain experience.[1]

“Pain randomly attacks different parts of the body. In our game, we make pain visible with visual particle motions — they look a little like a glowing red ‘cloud’ ” Ulas explains. “The pain limits body movement and hinders the participant from reaching some of the dots.” [2] For more information, check out the game in the video below.

What if you are not in to technology and just want to know practical ways to become more empathic?

As mentioned earlier,  here are 10 easy tips on how to hone your empathic  skills to better understand the pain sufferer.

1)Cook pasta in a big pot. Ha? I see you shaking your head. No, I haven’t lost my mind. Stay with me. Take a long  look at that boiling pot of water that you are about to put the pasta in.

 

This Photo shows A Heavy of Boiling Water
A Heavy Pot of Boiling Water

Now consider what would happen if  you  suddenly experienced pain just as you were holding the pot to drain the water. You would probably  spill the water all over you and get burned. This is why some pain sufferers use the  microwave instead of the stove.  They want to avoid be burned.  Now you know.

2)Freeze some food and have it be available several days later.

Go ahead and freeze some of your food and save it for a day that you just don’t want to cook.  Once you have done that, you can better  put yourself in the shoes of a pain sufferer. Doesn’t it make sense that they would go ahead and cook a lot of food on a”good day” when the pain is less intense, and then have it ready when they need it?

3)Take a good look at all your cooking utensils. Imagine how some pain sufferers would struggle lifting that heavy pan.

A Photo Showing a Set of Small and Big Pans
Set of Small and Big Pans

Chopping those vegetables

Opening those jars

Standing for long periods

4)Now figure a way to sit while preparing the food, and use smaller pans. Some found preparing a meal difficult and struggled with things like lifting heavy pans, chopping vegetables, opening jars and standing for long periods. Cooking could be made easier by breaking tasks up, sitting to prepare food, choosing easier things to cook and using smaller pans.

5)Do something creative, particularly if you are having a bad day. You might want to write a poem, draw and paint, sing, as an outlet for your feelings.

This is a Photo of Someone Painting a Flower
An Oil Painting of A flower

Now imagine experiencing  more than just the stress of a crummy day. Imagine what it would be like if you had chronic pain. Now you appreciate  how engaging  in creative activities can help a pain sufferer cope with his or her condition.

6)Watch any Sport Series on TV. Tennis,  with all the celebrated rivalries and world famous tournaments, may be the best option. However, the important lesson here is having a better understanding of how huge it is for pain sufferers to be distracted from their  pain.

This is a Photo Showing Roger Federer in a Match at The Grass Court of Wimbledon
Roger Federer Playing at the Grass Court of Wimbledon

My mother, for example, is now enjoying The Australian Open. She loves to follow Roger Federer in his quest to win. She’s also a big fan of women’s tennis and is engaged  by the battles on the court. For a couple of hours a day she can forget about her back pain.

7) Do something With The GrandKids.  In addition  to experiencing the joy of laughing  kids— there are few thing as  uplifting as that—you’ll begin to become more empathic as to how activites  involving grandchildren  can help pain sufferers become more positive and less depressed.

This is a Photo of a Man Enjoying a Water Fight With Kids
A Man Enjoys A Water Fight With Kids

8) Do some Visualization Exercises. The next time you have a hellish day try this: Visualize a relaxing experience such as walking along a beach.

A Woman in Summer Dress Enjoys an Evening Walk on The Beach
A Woman Enjoys an Evening Walk on The Beach

Or sitting by a waterfall. You can try some relaxation tapes—guided imagery— to help you with the visualization.

A Serene Scene of Two People Sitting by a Waterfall
Sitting by a Waterfall on a Sunny Day

Hey, think of  a flash of bright  colors. Imagine how they can uplift your spirits.

9) Take a Drive. Hey, when was the last time you drove just to enjoy the sites? Take a nice trip around town and pay attention to the landmarks or parks that you just use to pass by. Do you know of a scenic route that you’ve being dying to explore? Go for it. You might find that it’s a wonderful distraction.

Peaceful Scene of a Jeep Moving Down a Country Road
A Jeep Moves Down a Country Road

10) Spend Time With The Family. Do you remember all those family gatherings you kept canceling  because life just got in the way?  Well, go ahead and attend the next family function. Apart from making dad and mom happy, you’ll become more aware  of how important it is for pain sufferers to reach out and not be left alone to deal with their condition.

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Conclusion

There you have it. You have learned 10 tips that can make you more empathic when it comes to pain sufferers being able to distract their  mind away from pain. Are there other  good distraction techniques that you have discovered?

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

References:

  1. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-student-game-fosters-empathy-chronic.html
  2. Ibid
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How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World–Part4

How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World—Part 4

Welcome back to the forth part of the series that focuses on how to stop pain from determining your world. The whole series is a reply to the linguistic  determinist who believe that language not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world.

I show Why This is Not The Case

The first post acknowledged the psychological power of language  to define our reality.

The second post examined how language influences, according to those who support linguist  determinism, the way we look at the world.

The third post  took on a central tenant  of the Linguistic determinist:The  linear and non-linear argument . This is the belief that some cultures are determined to see the world in a linear form, and others in a non-linear form. The final post will show how the so called “Climactic ” argument fails to prove that a culture in a “non-linear” society is unable to perceive of things in a linear way.

Starting a Meal With Strawberry Short Cake

And Ending it With Spinach

The “Climactic” Argument

Here is where Linguist Anthropologist  Dorothy Lee attempts  to show another example of how how the language of the people living in the Trobriand Island (of New Guinea) doesn’t have a concept of linear while English calls attention to linear order. She says:

…who but a very young child would think of starting a meal with strawberry shortcake and ending it with spinach? We have come to identify the end of the meal with the height of satisfaction, and we identify semantically the words dessert and reward, only because of the similarity of their position in a climatic line. The Trobriander meal has no dessert, no line, no climax. The special, the relish is eaten with the staple food; it is not something to “look forward to” while disposing of a meaningless staple.[1].

The problem with Lee’s example is simple enough. The fact that one’s language creation doesn’t connate something in a “climactic” fashion doesn’t mean that one doesn’t perceive climactic action.

Consider The Following:

You are asked to describe a table. In your description you describe the table in “positive” terms. You state how big rather than how small the table is, how high rather than how low, how wide  rather than how narrow, and how hard rather than fragile. Just because you came up with a positive list of descriptions doesn’t mean that the next time you see the table you couldn’t come up with a negative list.

Are you starting to see where I’m going? It’s not at all clear that because the Trobrianders eat dessert  with the main meal, that they can’t conceive  of eating desert after the main meal. Just because one has no way of expressing a particular action in his or her language doesn’t mean that he or she can’t perceive  that action.

Here is An Interesting Twist

The fact that there is an expression describing a particular action in a language doesn’t mean that the people using that language perceive the action. In fact, it might be the opposite. Consider most conversations by Americans.

Americans according to Lee think in linearity. Really? Many times several topics are discussed at the same time, giving one the feeling of everything but linearity. Just think of the last time you had a conversation with your American buddies. Did you really go in a neat order topic to topic or did you jump around a lot?

Conclusion

Well you have come to the end of the sees and, you just learned a whole lot about Linguistic Determinism. So now it’s time to take a quick quiz to see how well you understand what you’ve just learned. Take a moment right now and answer these questions:

QUESTIONS:
Question 1: Define Linguistic Determinism.

Question 2: Who is Benjamine Whorf?

Question 3: What is the Lineal and NonLineal Theory of language?

Question 4: How Are All These Relevant in Understanding The Mindset of Some One Suffering From Chronic WideSpread Pain

ANSWERS:

1. Linguistic Determinism is the theory that language  not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world. See post 1 for more information.

2.  Benjamine Whorf (1897-1941) was a linguist who researched Hopi, and published a grammar of the Hopi language. He was also a fire inspector and drew heavily on his work with fire victims for illustrative material.

He argues that language  correlates with perception and that it may actually determine the way people perceive  reality. See post 2 for more information.

3. The belief that some cultures are determined to see the world in a linear form and others in a non-linear form is the correct answer. See this post  for more information.

4. A person suffering from chronic widespread pain may come to believe that his or her description  of the pain may determine  his or her future. That mindset to a large extant buys into the concept of L.D. Also, linear and nonlinear theory implies that the lack of a description of a certain action in a language means that people using that language  can’t perceive the action. this implies that a pain sufferer whose language  lacks an expression of an action can’t perceive of that action.

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How Did You Do?

If you got at least 3 right, then go ahead and start applying what you learned. Otherwise, I encourage you to review the material once more by reading the posts summaries. I wish you luck.

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References:

  1. Dorothy Lee, Lineal and NonLineal Codification of Reality

 

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How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World–Part3

How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World—Part 3

Welcome back to the third part of the series that focuses on how to stop pain from determining your world. The whole series is a reply to the linguistic  determinist who believe that language not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world.

Tips on what We Perceive
To Perceive

The first post focused on acknowledging  the feelings of hopelessness that a pain sufferer may have as a result of acknowledging that his  or her world is the way it is because of language. Thus, the only reality is the reality that their language conceives. So, for example, he or she  may perceive themselves to be a  “problem”  because that’s how they keep describing themselves.

The Depression of Determinism
How We Perceive Depression

The second post examined how language influences, according to those who support linguist  determinism, the way we look at the world.

As I said in post 1 of the series , my hope is that even after acknowledging and then showing how language  influences the way a pain sufferer looks at the world, it does not determine how he or she will cope in the future. Thus the final post will be a critique  of linguist Determinism and why I believe even if it’s clear that language  influences the way we perceive the world, it’s not at all clear that it determines the way we perceive the world.

Let’s jump in

To be Linear or Non-Linear

One of the famous tenants  of linguistic determinism is the belief that some cultures are determined to see the world in a linear form, and others in a non-linear form.

Perceiving Linear Reality
Linear Reality

 

Perceiving Non-Linear Reality
Abstract Reality

If one can show the flaw in this assumption then one can successfully show  that any conclusion based on the same  assumption is also flawed. This means that language does not determine the way we perceive  the world. Which means that someone experiencing widespread chronic pain is not doomed to believe that his or her future will be defined by illness.

Meet Dorothy Lee, The Language Determines Everything Lady

Dorothy Lee in “Lineal and NonLineal Codification of Reality” [1] goes beyond Benjamine Whorf’s suggestion that language influences the way we perceive the world. She believes  that language determines the way we we look at the world. You might say she uses linear and nonlinear logic to explain her view.

Here is What She Says

She strives to show how the language of the people living in the Trobriand Island (of New Guinea) doesn’t have a concept of linear while English calls attention to linear order.

Tips on Non-Linear Believers
Non-Linear Believers

The implication of course is that the Trobrianders look at the world differently from us. Lee states, “Basic to my investigation of the codification of reality on these two societies (Trobriand, English speaking) is the assumption that a member of a given society not only codifies experience through the use of the specific language but that he actually grasp reality only as it is presented to him in this code.” [2]

In other words people grasp reality only through words that are in their language. Here is the flaw in that logic. The Hopi are a Native American people who live in Arizona. Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941) was a linguist who researched Hopi, and published a grammar of the Hopi language.

Flag on Non-Linear People
Hopi Flag

As Whorf points out, the Hopi use a single word to name all flying things except bird. ( air planes, insects, aviators).  Our language has a separate word for each of these things. On the other hand, the Eskimos have many different words for snow—flying snow, slush snow, dry snow— while we get along with one.

What is The Significance of Such Lexical Differences?

Does the fact that a language does not have separate forms for certain phenomena mean that the users of this language are unable to to distinguish the phenomena from each other? Are  most Americans unable to see the differences that Eskimos see in snow? Or take an absurd example, is the Hopi unable to make a visual distinction between an aviator and an insect?

Tips on Perceiving an Aircraft
Perceiving an Aircraft

 

Perceiving an Insect
Insect

It May Just Come Down to Connivence

It seems to me that the reason Eskimos make elaborate distinctions between types of snow is just a matter of convenience. Eskimos more than most Americans constantly need to make distinctions between snow. American skiers on the other hand often are required to also make distinctions between types of snow.

One can say that most Americans make rather elaborate distinctions between types of cars. We have Dodge, Pinto, Mustang, Bug, Station Wagon, Jeep, etc. The distinction is convenient since we make a great use of cars in almost everything we do. But the fact that we can make distinctions  between types of cars does not mean that the Hopi are unable to; it may mean there is no reason for them to do so.

So let’s Get Back to Dorothy Lee

We can now analyze her position with the view that she doesn’t conclusively prove that the Trobrianders look at the world differently from a so called linear language people. One of the things Lee states, in distinguishing the  Trobriander and English language, is that a Trobriander word refers to a “self-contained concept.” She states:

What we consider an attribute of a predicate is to the Trobriander an ingredient. Where I would say, for example, “a good gardener” or “the gardner is good” the Trobriander word would include both “gardener” and “goodness”. If the gardener loses the goodness, he has lost a defining ingredient. He is something else, and he is named by means of a completely different word.[3]

Not Much There

Lee’s observation may at first glance seem like a brand new insight. When you look into it deeper,though, it says less than advertised. it reminds me of a marketer who says his or her product is unique but in reality does something  better than his or her competitors but is not at all unique. So let’s take a closer look at  this so called  “self-contained concept” as it applies to the Trobrianders.

Gardening is a an importune aspect of Trobriander life. Goodness is a standard that everyone who is a gardener must have. That said, don’t we do the same thing with our professions? To illustrate, let’s talk about the plumbing. How many of us have complained that someone is not a “good” plumber because he or she lacked skills that a plumber in the industry has. The implication is that a profession has set standards, and thus one can make the case that because the standards are implicit part of the definition, then in a sense all professions are self-contained. So while Lee’s observation of “self-contained concept” is not at all the big break through it at first seems.

Conclusion

What is The Implication For The Chronic Pain Sufferer?

It means it’s possible, and probable, for a person suffering from chronic widespread pain to have a self-contained concept of a “good day.” This would be a day when the pain is less intense and allows for completion  of tasks that couldn’t be done days when the pain is too much.

Tips on Perceiving a Beautiful Day
Perceiving a Beautiful Day

“On a good day the body can be controlled in order to accomplish activities, and to store up time against a bad day, on which control, and routine, are disrupted.”[4]

Perceiving Happy Girl Playing in Field
Girl Playing in Sunny Field

This would mean ,for example, that a person wanting to do house work would associate  a good day  with the standard of having more control over his or her body because of less pain, and thus able to complete the chores. So certainly  the so called self-contained  concept is not unique to the Trobrianders. We have now  dispensed of the linear and NonLinear, self-contained concept, of the Linguist Determinist and showed that there is a lot that doesn’t add up when  you take the assumptions to their  logical conclusion. In the last post of the series I will address the climax argument. Here is where Lee attempts  to show another example of how the Trobrianders fail to see things in a linear way. I will challenge the assumption and show why I think she is wrong.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References:

1Dorothy Lee, Lineal and NonLineal Codification of Reality

2Ibid

3Ibid

4Jane C. Richardson, Bie Nio Ong and Julius Sim

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 9 (Jan. 11, 2008) : p3

 

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How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World–Part 2

How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World—Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of the series that focuses on how to stop pain from determining your world. The whole series is a reply to the linguistic  determinist who believe that language not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world.

The first post focused on acknowledging  the feelings of hopelessness that a pain sufferer may have as a result of accepting that his  or her world is the way it is because of language. Thus, the only reality is the reality that their language conceives. So, for example, he or she  may perceive themselves to be a  “problem”  because that’s how they keep describing themselves.

My second post will examine how language influences, according to those who support linguist  determinism, the way we look at the world.

As I said in post 1 of the series , my hope is that even after acknowledging and then showing how language  influences the way a pain sufferer looks at the world, it does not determine how he or she will cope in the future.

Let’s Jump In.

In the last post I spoke about C. L. Stevenson, a famous American philosopher whose work, entails some sort of linguistic determinism. The notion, as I said, that the world is the way because  of language. After dealing with the belief that language influences the way we look at the world, it’s time to show precisely how, in the eyes of linguistic determinist,  language influences your actions. Benjamine  Lee Whorf, was an American linguist and fire prevention engineer who seems to back up Stevenson’s theory. In his article “The language”,  he argues rather successfully how language influences how you see the world. This has a tremendous implication  for someone like a chronic pain sufferer. Why? Well, how he or she sees the world can have direct impact on how he or she sees themselves  in the world.

To illustrate, let’s say a pain sufferer’s vision of the world around her or him is confined to the contributions that family  members make to the financial success of the family. If that’s their  entire scope of how they fit in the world, then they could easily  come to accept the description  of themselves as moochers. Consider this excerpt from a report about pain sufferers unable to work—“Many people felt guilty about not working and suspected that they were labelled a ‘shirker’ or a fraud particularly if they claimed unemployment benefits” [1]

Case of The empty Gasoline Drum

Benjamine Whorf was a fire inspector and drew heavily on his work with fire victims for illustrative material. He argues that language  correlates with perception and that it may actually determine the way people perceive  reality. He notes, for example, that words often affect the way people decide to act.  Employees at one factory, he discovered, would heat “full” gasoline drums with care, but didn’t take “empty” ones seriously, despite the fact that the gasoline fumes in empty drums are more volatile. The careless actions are rushed by the lack of danger associated with the word “empty”.

Gasoline Drums on Fire
Drums on Fire

Invisible Scars and Empty Gasoline Drums

In the case of a chronic pain sufferer the lesson to be considered is as follows: words such as exhausting, excruciating, and debilitating may be like the full gasoline drum. They cause others to be more empathic and thus more considerate in how they relate to pain sufferers. However, chronic pain unlike a burn doesn’t leave visible scars. Those invisible scars that may not be given much considerations can be just as volatile as the gasoline fumes in empty drums.

A pain sufferer’s  condition can cause them to erupt in anger or come across as mean. The result often is a further isolation from the very people that he or she needs.

Water on Fire

Another Example From Whorf’s Article is Stated as Follows:

A tannery discharged waste water containing animal matter into an outdoor settling basin partly roofed with wood and partly open. This situation is one that ordinarily would be verbalized as “pool of water”. A workman had occasion to light a blowtorch near by, and threw his match into the water. But the decomposing waste matter was evolving gas under the wood cover, so that the set-up was the reverse of “watery”. An instant flare of flames ignited the woodwork, and the fire quickly spread into the adjoining building.[2]

 

We can state the lesson of mentioned incident this way: the cue to how we behave is often given by the analogies of the language  we use. It was quite reasonable for the workman to think that  his match would be distinguished  by what he thought was a pool of water. The reality was that he, because of the decomposing waste matter, was actually  putting a lit match  to gas. The result was the opposite of what he had attended—a disastrous fire.

Building on Fire
Building on Fire

Like wise, you see that  a pain sufferer has lost interest in doing anything today and yet was more active yesterday. You want to help. You figure that you’ll give them a “pep talk” because motivation always pushes people to get on with their lives. What you may fail to realize is that your well meaning words to ‘try harder” may actually have the opposite effect of  encouragement and instead deepen the person’s sense of awareness of her or his condition. You maybe clueless to the fact that a person experiencing fluctuating levels of pain often uses “good days”  to squeeze  everything they can as a way to preserve their  energy on a bad day when pain doesn’t allow them to do routine activities. On a good day the body can be controlled in order to accomplish activities, and to store up time against a bad day.

Conclusion

As I said in the beginning  of this series, I reject the linguistic determinist view  that language determines  the way we perceive  the world. I think this notion is particularly harmful to those experiencing chronic widespread pain who may come to believe that they are how they are described. That said, for me to credibly make my argument  as to why pain sufferers, and anyone for that matter, should reject linguist determinism I had to acknowledge the popular aspects of the theory.

With that in mind, the first post in this series addressed the notion that language influences the way we look at the world. The second post, as promised, examined how language  does this.  Having accepted and given a fair hearing the contention that language influences how we perceive  the world, I am now ready to show why it’s too big a leap and unreasonable to say language determines the way we look at the world. This will be the topic of my next post. Meanwhile, if you want to go back to the beginning all you to do is simply click here. I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References:

1.

http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/long-term-conditions/chronic-pain/unemployment-and-return-work#ixzz51dMUBLwh

2. Whorf B.L. (1997) The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language. In: Coupland N., Jaworski A. (eds) Sociolinguistics. Modern Linguistics Series. Palgrave, London

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How To Erase Facial Scars–One Less Thing For Pain Sufferer To Worry About

 

How to Erase Facial Scars–One Less Thing For Pain Sufferer to Worry About

 

Living with daily pain is bad enough, but it can even be worse if you have to deal with the problem of facial scars. Just think about it. If you suffer from chronic pain that means you’re sick everyday, but most people don’t know that or choose not to believe it. They expect you to just “snap out of it” and be like you were before. Trying to participate in every day activities, when you are in  excruciating pain,  can be exhausting. Chronic pain can indeed make you feel less like a woman or man. This feeling of not having control of your life  can intensify and make you miserable if you also suffer from facial scars. What if there was a way to erase facial scars? Well, there is. You can do so with a good scar treatment cream.

Continue reading How To Erase Facial Scars–One Less Thing For Pain Sufferer To Worry About