The Pain Project: A Couple's Story of Confronting Chronic Pain

  • ISBN 9781771648400
  • Author: Stanley, Kara
  • Publ Date: 2024-05-16
  • Edition:
  • Binding: Paperback / softback

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'The Pain Project is ironically full of pleasure: on every page is another generous, original insight into this most intimate human subject.' - NAOMI KLEIN, author of Doppelganger

'The Pain Project is a beautiful, humane, thoughtful inquiry into the challenge of living with chronic pain and how Stanley and Paradis navigate its impact on their lives. This is a tough subject but a joyful book; it takes on a daunting topic with heart and humor and determination. It's wonderful.' - SUSAN ORLEAN, author of The Orchid Thief and The Library Book

Ten years after her husband's catastrophic injury, author Kara Stanley embarks with him on a journey to understand his chronic pain and find pathways into joy and relief.

Kara and her husband, Simon, are at a desperate crossroads. In 2008, Simon fell off a scaffold, causing severe injuries to his brain and spinal cord. He made a remarkable recovery, eventually adjusting to life in a wheelchair and returning to his career as a musician, but he continues to suffer from debilitating pain that is beginning to strip away his selfhood.

On the ten-year anniversary of the accident, Kara and Simon decide to confront Simon's pain head-on by committing to a personal experiment. For one year, they will focus on researching, interviewing experts, and exploring both new, and age old, pain relief strategies. A decade ago, Simon was prescribed the pain-relieving drug hydromorphone. Can he discover an alternate therapeutic approach that is at least as effective as daily doses of opioids?

As they navigate a difficult year, Kara's tenacity and Simon's wit shine through in their honest conversations, insightful journal entries, and affectionate banter. Throughout, they seek answers to profound questions about the nature of suffering and pain:

Is it helpful to conceptualize pain as a disease, or not?
What does it mean to understand that pain is always a creation of the brain?
What is the difference between healing and curing? Is healing still possible even when all-better is not an option?

Globally, at least one in five people suffer from chronic pain, placing an enormous burden on medical systems around the world. Not just a medical but also a social justice issue, chronic pain continues to be poorly understood and poorly treated. It is a challenging topic to discuss with friends and family because, as Simon says, no one really wants to lead with their cloud. Deciding to accept this challenge, Simon and Kara's experiment is a wide-ranging exploration of the definitions, treatments, science, myths, and meanings of the mysterious and multi-faceted force that is pain.

As difficult as the topic is, it can also provide us with an opportunity to question our current course. What can we learn when we confront our pain head-on? Honest, deeply researched, insightful, and ultimately hopeful, The Pain Project is a must-read for anyone looking for a greater understanding of pain as a phenomenon and in their own lives.
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