Day 1, Chronic Pain Questionnaire – RK

National Pain Awareness Month

U.S. Pain Foundation, 30 Day Challenge

September 2016

Name: _____________Richard Kreis_______________      Date:_____9/1/16____

eMail: or

I would like to start with how I came to be a Person in Chronic Pain.  In 1993 I worked out 3-4 times a week with my brother, wasn’t in amazing health, but in real good health. I had a 3 year old daughter and a new 1-1/2 month old son.  Working a dream job as a district sales manager for Northern California and Northern Nevada and was making real good money.  In route home from a business conference with the State of California, Caltrans was doing some repairs on the freeway and the three lanes were merging down to two.  Traffic was more or less at a stop when I reached over to change the radio when I looked in my rear view mirror and was staring right at the other driver as her rear ended me at what police are saying anywhere from 75-80 mph and I had my foot on the brake.  The van I was driving now has a bent  frame (11-1/2″), it was written off as scrap.  The driver apparently swerved to miss the car two behind me lost control on the shoulder, came back onto the freeway and hit me.  This shoved my van 12′ into the car in front of me and her into the truck in front (6′) of her.  the drive was 0.19 DUI, multiple open container, no license, no insurance, I was his fourth DUI related accident and one lady he hit was still in the hospital in traction after four months.  

This story just goes to prove, any time any where any one can become a person in chronic pain.  Here is my story, my thoughts, ideas, tips, and suggestions for all of you new to chronic pain or for those who have already been living with chronic pain.

My Questionnaire and My Story: 

1. How long have you lived with chronic pain?

Since May 11, 1993 (23 yrs., 3 mths, 16 days).

2. What do you understand is the cause of your pain?

Cervical C3-C6 (Neck), Lumbar Vertebrae L2-L5 (Lower Spine) and Sacral Spine S1-S5 (Tail Bone Portion of Spine).

3.Describe your typical day. How is it impacted when your pain is mild? Moderate? Severe?

My typical day is spent stretching (75-85%) while I am doing things around the house, shopping, home store, anywhere I am, I am usually stretching.  When the pain is mild I am pretty good, As the pain gets moderate and severe I most often am having to take another pain pill or use my bolise device to get an extra shot of meds from my intrathecal pump. Or I am laying down stretching, or just passed out from the pain.  I’ve even been known to sit down in the middle of a store and begin doing chair stretches it hurts so bad.

4. What do you do to manage your pain (e.g. medications, complementary therapies, etc.)?

I have found for my pain (belt line, on right is my epicenter) I get the most relief with stretching. I also will use a tennis ball and place it on the site of the pain and press against the tennis ball to the point I can handle it and then roll it around the area to obtain some relief.  Ice packs are best for me over a heat pack.  (Quick Ice Pack: Take a bottle of Rubbing Alcohol (RA) and using equal parts (RA) and water mix them in a Zip-Loc bag and freeze.  It will freeze yet not harden so the pack is flexible to form around your wound site or your body}.  

5. How did you figure out what approaches you needed to take to get your pain under control?

After 12 years of physical therapist, yoga, Tai Chi, Acupuncture, Acupressure, several different approaches to pain relief, narcotics, over the counter meds, back braces, chair cushions, and much more, it came down to basic trial and error and I have done a lot of it.

6. Is your pain management adequate? Can it be improved? If so, how?

My pain Management is so-so.  I am a worker compensation case and everything now needs to have prior approval. With my medications, to obtain approval the pharmacist has to contact a third party middle man who then contacts they reach out to the main adjuster (normally not in).  Then we wait to hear back.  Adjuster calls middle man who then calls pharmacist.   

7. Has your attitude changed regarding pain as a result of your experience with chronic pain? how?

Chronic pain is a beast in itself.  I don’t think your impression of pain changes when it goes from regular pain to chronic pain, you have to do things differently.  I have found that just mowing the yard which use to take 40 minutes now may take 20 minutes on two or three different days.  Going to Disneyland or the state fair now requires either a wheelchair or an electric scooter.  You have to know, “If I do this, then I can’t do that.”  Or if you know you’re going to the fair or amusement park tomorrow, most likely you will have to put off mowing the yard or plying soccer today.

 8. In your opinion, what is holding back your pain from improving or becoming stable? How do we break through those doors?

It is my feeling that because of the way my damaged nerves grafted onto healthy nerves and with the “CHRONIC PAIN” signal being sent to my brain that there is no procedure or surgery to go in and determine which nerves are which and correcting their placement.  So for now there is no correction for me.

 9. What does your healthcare provider do to help you with your chronic pain? What do they do that’s holding you back?

The treatment for my pain is twofold, the first is standard oral medications (Norco, Lyrica, Terazosin and several others.  The second wave is the Intrathecal Pain Pump which is in my abdomen with catheters running into my lower spine. The catheters take Fentynal from the pump (24/7/365) and place it directly into my spine at the epicenter of my pain.  With the pump I am able to get out of bed, walk, talk and interact with my family, without it I would be bedridden.

10. How has chronic pain impacted your family life? Your social life? Your work life?

I believe chronic pain had a small part in my first divorce, it effected my employment at various stages I became unable to perform certain tasks and had to downgrade.  Chronic pain and the medications, mood swing, mood swings from the various medications and trial medications I believe also played a part in the relationships I have with my children, who were 3 years and 3 months old at the onset of the pain.  Great relationships that are lost and unsure if their repairable.

11. Does the experience of living with chronic pain carry personal meaning or significance for you? Have you discussed this significance with your family? Your health providers?

The meaning I get from living with chronic pain is, Life is short and you never know what’s going to happen so you need to go out and do the thing you want to or do those things on your bucket list.  There are many on mine that I am now unable to do and will never experience.

12. What are your feelings when it comes to the thinking that the governments emphasis on opioids and the addictive qualities has taken away from the ability to manage patients pain and the inappropriate use which leads to addiction? Which in turn is actually hurting pain sufferers.

I feel the government is miss guided.  Yes, they are those out there that are miss using the opioids, I feel the number that respect the product out ways the number of people out there, miss using it.  Don’t take their stupidity out on those of us who are following the law.  Instead find a way to correct the problem.

13. There is a stereotype out there that all those in “Pain” or on “opioids” are nothing more than addicts. Or, it’s all just in our heads? When you hear someone say one of these or something else similar, what’s your first thought?

If I could give up my chronic pain for one day and allow someone who feels this way to experience it full on, I feel this would make a statement.  You can’t understand what someone’s going though unless you’ve gone through it yourself.

14. Where do you go? Who do you talk to? What sites do you go on, when you have just had to much?

Where do I go, I walk as much and as far as I can in 15-20 minutes (most I can handle).  Who do I talk with?  Me and my wife speak with a counselor about once a month and we talk about what seems to be eating at us (me) that month and usually by the end of the session I have a better idea of what’s been eating at me and how I need to proceed to work on it.

 15. Do you think your family, spouse or friends truly understand what and how your chronic pain is affecting you both physically and mentally?

My family has seen me through the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the medication changes, surgeries, mood swings and more.  It is my wife and mom who I feel really understand or have the best grasp as to what I’m going through.

 16. How much is, too much?

5 out of 10 use to be my max, now that my pain is changing and increasing I have had to learn to adjust and get better use to a 6 out of 10, that is when it’s too much.

 17. What type of treatments have you tried to rid you of your pain? Which works best?

Over the past 23 plus years I have tried, acupressure, acupuncture, massage (all types), braces, medications, exercise, physical therapy, group support, martial arts (various), Inclined stretching, and much more.  The best relief I’ve found is basic stretching, walking and massages.

 18. Have you found anyone or anything that actually helps with your pain relief?

Nothing as of today.  If you know of someone or something I am willing to listen.

 19. What’s treatments are in your pain relief toolbox? (massage, medication, ice/heat, physical therapy)?

Massages, Ice and stretching is what I have in my toolbox.

 20. What is your best piece of advice on how to best communicate when you’re in extreme pain?

Best advice here is, if you’re in pain and around family or friends let them know, don’t expect them to be able to read your mind.  If you have to separate yourself for a few, they will understand or their not true friends.

 21. What is the best piece of advice you can give someone new to chronic pain?

Use your family as sounding boards, talk to them, let them know what’s happening, what’s going on in your brain.  Talk with your doctors, ask questions and finally keep a journal of all your appointments, medications, etc.

 22. How do you stay in a good place with all of the physical issues you go through in a day?

I stay there by thinking of my family, spending time with our dogs and keeping busy even during the bad times.

 23. How do you stay in a good place with all of the mental issues that go along with controlling chronic pain?

This one is hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it.  You have to find a person you’re comfortable with talking to and let them know what’s going on.  You can’t keep this in all it will do is keep building up more and more until your finally blow which is far worse than putting out 10-15 mini fires compared to one large inferno.

 24. How much of your day do you devote to your pain and trying to keep it in check?

75%-85% of my day is spent to keeping my pain from taking over my life. It’s like a full time job.

 25. Do you tell people near you when you need help or when you’re in so much pain you need a break, at home? At work?

You have to, don’t feel like you’re a wimp, or less of a person.  If you physically cannot do something, you can’t do it.  I know your family will understand and your friends well that’s another story.  I was in the petroleum industry and I called on installers through the major oil engineers my list of people I became friends with and all had my number which is the same here 23 plus years later.  By the first change in employment (still in the industry and calling on them) the calls for “friend activity’s” dropped by almost 50%.  The next employment change (still in the industry, dropped another 25%-40%, then at the third change not one of them were calling or returning my calls because I was unable to do the things we all use to do.  This hurt the most.


I hope this helps even just one person out there new to chronic pain learn to deal with their pain, their family and friends.  I can be reached


Thank you for your time and here’s wishing you a wonderful pain free September Journey.


Richard Kreis


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