86 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Pain that never subsides.
Living in constant pain, is no way to live, but neither is living in denial and that's where the Avera Behavioral Pain Management program comes in to play.
You wouldn't know it by looking at them, watching them but every single person sitting around this table is in pain. A pain they understand now will never go away. They've all been through the Avera Behavioral Chronic Pain Management program and they are glad they did. 20, 8 hour days of learning to reprogram their mind and body for a new way of life. Group therapy is part of the process.
Physiatrist Dr. Myung Cho is the Medical Director of the Avera Chronic Pain Management Program she says, "The first obstacle the patient needs to understand the condition and accept it or they will never be able to move forward."
Dave Dummermuth was a coach and teacher at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls when a weight machine fell on him in December of 2003. He deals with daily headaches, back and neck pain, dizziness and fatigue. He never wanted to retire this early. He completed the program in April 2007.
Dave says, "The first thing they teach you, the most important thing and the hardest thing for me is to deal with acceptance that this is the way things are now. I think I'm still dealing with that . You go through a grieving process on how your life used to be because medically nothing is going to fix our condition now. "
For Dave, places with more than one stimuli can trigger more. If he goes out to dinner at a restaurant he wears headphones to block out the noise. He says the program has helped know how to deal with his environment.
Doug Sell completed the program in December 2007.
Doug says, "No body sees it. You look normal. You look like everything is fine. But really, pain effects your energy level. What you can tolerate in the course of a day. Socially, how you interact with people and you get tired really quickly."
Initially, doctors didn't think Doug would walk again after this accident.
Doug tells us what happened to him. " I was working at Spader's RV in Sioux Falls, pulling a 5 wheel on a tractor and it came off the tractor hitch and landed on my back. 10,000 pounds. It broke 5 bones in my back and laid me out for 6 months."
Despite headaches, a leak in his spinal cord, and nerve damage to his left leg, Doug is back at work part-time. But like everyone here, he has to know his limits.
Doug says, "A huge part of what they teach us here is managing your emotions. Managing your negative feelings and overcoming that to get to the place where you are doing what you need to do."
Dave says, "This program has really helped my quality of life and I'm still struggling with that and dealing with it but it's getting better too."