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Book Review - Paintracking your personal guide to living well with chronic pain

pain trackingWhen I was asked to review this book I had thought that I’d be able to skim read it but as I started to read I knew that this was impossible as I felt, as I was reading, that this book was written for me. Having Fibromyalgia I was able to identify with so much in the book and found myself so engrossed in what I was reading that I wanted to read and devour every line.

Deborah says that this book that she has written is the book that she wishes someone had given her when she was first diagnosed. I run a support group for 300 people with Fibromyalgia and have set up seven other groups in Kent in England, and this will be the book I will be recommending to everyone. It really is a ‘must read’ for anyone with a chronic pain condition.

The book is divided into three section, Paintracking, Pain Treating, and Pain Living. This division makes it so much easier to read as you can chose the section that you want to return to so easily, and I firmly believe that once read it will be one of those books that will be kept as a tool that will be used again and again.

One of the main attractions of the book is that Deborah ‘knows how it feels’. She has empathy and she gets to the heart of the problems that those with chronic pain have as they try to live a life as near to normal as possible, and to have relationships with others. She tackles every aspect of life, giving explicit examples and so many helpful hints, and there seems to be nothing that could be added. There is so much useful and helpful information that it is difficult to know where to begin and what to mention.

Not only is the book written for those with a chronic pain condition, but it also covers the role of the carer or supporter and the healthworker. There is also a companion website to go alongside the book which will be extremely helpful.

One of the things I liked about the book is that Deborah doesn’t treat us all as being the same. She recognises that, despite having the same condition, we all react in different ways. She gives ample advice as to how we can adjust the advice to suit ourselves and her suggested personalised plans and charts are so helpful.

There are two particular aspects of the book that has stayed in my mind. The first was the chapter on mindfulness which was particularly thought provoking explaining that what we thought might happen, may not. The thoughts about what may happen are often the things that affect us most.

I quote: “No matter how lousy you may feel, being mindful can help you direct your attention to places besides your pain.” and “But by focusing on the challenges of pain, such as worries about the future, regrets, or losses, you may miss opportunities for sweet indulgence.” I also liked the suggestion of defining your own well-being – the quality of life that you would wish for. You’d need to read the book to get the real benefit, but I definitely recommend that you try it.

Another piece I liked, and I quote: “Through understanding, you can take control of your life. The very idea that you can make informed choices is empowering. Living with chronic pain can feel like you are a raggedy doll, tossed about by conditions beyond your control. By facing and experimenting with your experience, you not only learn to understand your situation but to manipulate it to your advantage.”

The second aspect that has stayed with me is at the very end of the book where Deborah talks about grief and acceptance. She explains that we need to progress through the stages of grief having lost the life we had before pain came into our lives, and she guides us through to acceptance and the need to lead the life we now have in a different way.

I cannot speak highly enough of this book and of Deborah’s ability to get to the heart of the matter, and I can only end with her own words “PAINTRACKING puts you squarely in the driver’s seat”.

Margaret Robson
Co-ordinator of Fibromyalgia Support Group (Medway)
Regional Co-ordinator for Kent for Fibromyalgia Association UK


PAINTRACKING, Your Personal Guide to Living Well with Chronic Pain By Deborah Barrett, PhD, MSW

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