My real world story of controlling pain, stitches, and brick walls

benblackeye_0.jpgI lead a pretty active life and a couple times a week I practice Krav Maga. Krav Maga is a martial art developed by the Israeli military to teach their soldiers and special forces units hand to hand combat. Because of it’s effectiveness, it’s also been exported all over the world and is taught to law enforcement and interested civilians (like me!).

I was helping a friend of mine (and fellow Krav Maga enthusiast) train for their upcoming mixed martial art fight. Doing so required sparring (practice fighting) a few times a week. Although we both always make sure to wear the proper safety gear and have good control, sometimes accidents happen. In this case the accident was me being thrown face first into a brick wall.

As soon as it happened blood started pouring out of my head from a deep 1 inch gash above my right eye. I went to the urgent care immediately for stitches.

Because I am a hypnosis nerd, I know that whenever I am in pain it is a chance to try out a lot of the techniques I teach clients who suffer from chronic pain. These are people who have back injuries, those with lyme disease, fibromyalgia, or nerve damage. People who regularly take daily medication like oxycodone, morphine, and percocet. 

My small wound doesn’t compare to living with daily intense pain, but it is a good opportunity for me to experiment with pain control techniques.

I waited for the doctor and practiced some breathing techniques to aid in relaxation. When he finally arrived, he cleaned the area where he was going to suture and told me he would give me a local anesthetic to numb the area. This was my opportunity to practice some of my pain control skills.

While still conversing casually with the doctor I performed some mental exercises to dissociate my mind from the feelings of pain in my face. He used a sharp needle to inject the numbing agent into 3 separate areas around my wound. I barely felt a thing. I didn’t even flinch thanks to the relaxing/pain control techniques I applied in this situation. 

He quickly sewed me up and sent me on my way.

What are some of the lessons from this story:

  1. Modern medicine and hypnosis work together. The body is amazing at both creating and masking pain. Just because the body has these natural mechanisms, doesn’t mean that it isn’t sometimes easier to help it out using modern medication. Could I have undergone the whole procedure without any anesthetic? Yes, but why make it harder on myself then it needs to be? A local anesthetic makes sewing up the wound painless, especially when I used techniques to make the injection of that chemical also a painless process.
    Problems arise when you are ONLY using medications to control pain. When you do that, your dosages tend to creep up, which come with more side effects. I teach people to reduce their pain mentally, which can allow them to take less medication after they discuss it with their prescribing doctor. Modern medicine is good. Hypnosis is good. Together they are GREAT!
  2. What you can and can’t control. One of the habits that helps me in daily life is mindfulness meditation. It allows me to be calmer even in times of stress. It also lets me realize what I can and can’t control, and not be bothered as much by the latter. When my training partner accidentally tossed me into the brick wall, I could have been mad at them. However they didn't do it on purpose, and being mad wouldn’t have done anything to help the situation.
    That doesn’t mean I didn’t experience pain or frustration, it just means it wasn’t directed towards them, instead it was directed at the situation. Because of that the frustration quickly dissipated. After all, I’ve also accidentally hurt training partners in the past, so I know how bad it can feel hurting someone without meaning to! 
  3. Don’t kickbox next to brick walls. Not everything has to be super deep and meaningful! Sometimes the best lessons are logistical, such as not sparring right next to a solid brick wall. Lesson learned.

The point of this email is that you can learn mental techniques that apply to REAL WORLD situations. Even something like mindfulness meditation can help in ways you might not expect.