|Journey through Pain||
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Walker Doing It for the Pain
By Beth Hahn
Mountain View Telegraph
When you've been walking as long as Dennis Kinch has been, even bad coffee tastes good.
Kinch, a 50-year-old native of Boston, is walking from Chicago to Los Angeles along Old Route 66 to increase awareness of chronic pain— and ease his own.
He is a volunteer spokesman for the National Pain Foundation and is doing the walk to meet with chronic pain patients along the way, speak at medical conferences and enjoy seeing the United States by foot.
Kinch suffers from two progressive diseases that affect his joints and spine. Someday, he may not be able to take another step.
But in the meantime, walking helps ease his chronic pain, he said at his motel room in Moriarty on Friday as he prepared to set off toward Albuquerque.
Kinch left Chicago in September for the 2,400-mile trek to Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the hardest leg of the trip came just a few days ago outside Clines Corners.
"I was walking uphill with a really strong headwind," he recalled Friday morning. "It almost did me in."
Kinch carries about 200 pounds of supplies in a wheelbarrow, for which he rigged a harness out of duct tape and wires that he found along Old Route 66. The harness helps him pull the wheelbarrow without his hands, while balancing its weight more evenly on his back and allowing him to walk at a more comfortable pace, he said.
Kinch said the walk along Old Route 66 has made him appreciate community and home.
"I'm learning to appreciate every little thing that there is, even bad coffee," he said.
Kinch is scheduled to spend three weeks in Albuquerque meeting with chronic pain patients and speaking at medical conferences. From there, he hopes to arrive in Los Angeles on foot in mid-June.
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75 million people suffer
from chronic pain in America
Greg Heffernan India Post News Service
TORRANCE: Walking from Chicago to Los Angeles to raise public awareness about chronic pain, Dennis Kinch, a chronic pain survivor and inspirational speaker was hosted by Dr. Ripu Arora and the Torrance based Peninsula Pain Management Center July 12.
"I've had doctors tell me I'm just a drug addict using drugs for pain they thought didn't exist," said Kinch to a lobby filled with listeners.
“One thing I tell doctors is that if your patients say they are in pain, believe them." Kinch emphasized that chronic pain can be so bad it often drives individuals to suicide, citing a friend who recently killed himself because of the agony he lived with every day.
Kinch, himself, shared that he knew what it was like to feel suicidal about his own pain. "I'm living proof that it doesn't have to be that way anymore because with the right attitudes and understanding you can win the battle of chronic pain that 75 million Americans currently live with," said the former graphic artist.
Kinch's host, Dr. Arora, who was originally an anesthesiologist and then moved into the pain management sector of medicine, agreed: "This is a growing field of integrated pain management where we try to help the patient deal with chronic pain as it affects his or her whole life," said Dr. Arora who pointed to new technologies in the medical field that allow better pain management than in the past.
“For example, in the spinal area we can treat small disc problems without major surgery by inserting a needle to release fluid and ease discomfort, so there are all sorts of new technologies."
Dr. Arora invited Kinch to speak at his offices because he has been providing chronic pain management service in the South Bay for over 12 years with eight years of experience in training and practice of orthopedic and general surgery. "Pain that persists despite routine medical management will usually pose difficult problems for patients and their doctors," said Arora. "If this pain continues despite medical care, there is an increasing probability of physical disability, psychosocial dysfunction, drug dependence and development of chronic pain," he said.
Referring to his example of small disc therapy in the spine, Arora underscored that recent advances in pain management technology along with new understanding of the anatomy and physiology of pain now make it possible to accurately diagnose and effective treat pain previously thought untreatable.
Kinch displayed a self-portrait of himself before his new treatment to underscore the pain he was going through, partly to demonstrate the emotional level of pain that is interconnected with the physical struggle. "Some patients benefit with psychological counseling for their pain and personal lives, because pain will influence your total life," said Kinch. Dr. Arora agreed, saying that many insurances now pay for psychological counseling related to chronic pain, however he said workers compensation claims often do not support psychological counseling as they take a more cynical and suspicious attitude toward 'holistic pain management.' "But the field is changing with a more holistic approach," assured Arora.
One member of the audience said his wife threatened to divorce him if he didn't get help for his pain. But Genevieve Kowalewski, another member of the audience and a client of Dr. Arora's, who is 81, said she is living proof of the positive battle against chronic pain. "My life has really improved and I'm able to do all sorts of things with the therapies I've received with Dr. Arora."
Kinch, who says his only medication is now the drug Neurontin, acknowledged that chronic pain sufferers have good days and bad days. He encouraged pain sufferers to graph their pain experience on a daily basis to better understand it and to share this with their doctors as a way of addressing therapies. He also pointed out that "pain tolerance" on particular days would also affect how the individuals experiences pain. "If you have a low pain tolerance day, you may find it very hard to handle pain that day," he said. He also encouraged his listeners to not give up the fight. "There are a lot of 'old school' attitudes still out there in the medical field. One doctor who I showed my pain graph to wrote that I was obsessed with my pain and needed counseling."
Colorado man walks
along Route 66 to raise awareness about chronic pain
By SHEL SEGAL
Get your footsteps on Route 66.
Dennis Kinch of Colorado Springs, Colo. passed through Fontana on June 30, walking along Foothill Boulevard, which is also known as historic Route 66.
The 51-year-old starting walking along Route 66 at its start in Chicago on Sept. 19, 2005 and has traveled on foot about 2,200 miles on his way to the highway's end in Santa Monica to raise awareness about Paget's disease.
What makes his trip even more remarkable is that Paget's disease is a degenerative bone disease that changes the normal process of bone growth, according to an arthritis-related website. The bone breaks down more quickly, and when it grows again, it is softer than normal bone, according to the website.
This means Kinch's vertebrae are fracturing as he currently has four fractured discs, he said. He had been suffering with the pain since 1999, but was finally diagnosed with the rare disease in 2004 in a hospital in Boston.
Kinch said what he is doing is not just helping himself, but hopefully helping others who have the condition.
"Walking is slowing the progress of the disease," said Kinch, who is hoping to reach Route 66's end this week. "Most people with Paget's are in a wheelchair, but movement might be the best thing for them."
Kinch said he spent five years being bounced back and forth through the medical system before he was correctly diagnosed. Because of this, he said he lost all his money and even lost custody of his two children.
If you are diagnosed with Paget's disease, Kinch said while your life will change, you shouldn't let it come to a halt.
"You've got to accept it will slow you down, but you have to reinvent yourself," he said. "You want to be able to do what you used to do."
He added those with the disease need to remain as active as possible.
"I'm trying to get pain patients off the couch," said Kinch, who added the disease is not fatal, but can cause paralysis. "If you can learn and do what you can when you can, you can get off the couch and do what you want to do and be happy and productive again."
In addition, Kinch said those with Paget's disease need to learn as much about it as possible to keep a normal life and outlook.
Kinch, who also suffers from ankylosing spondylitis (a type of arthritis that affects the spine and body joints), is a volunteer spokesperson for the National Pain Foundation, which aims to raise awareness about the widespread problem of chronic pain through Kinch's walk.
By the time he reaches Santa Monica, Kinch will have taken 6.5 million steps and gone through eight pairs of shoes and 15 pairs of socks.
Dennis has led a grass roots effort to raise awareness and educate America about chronic pain issues, treatment and resources.
He recently walked from Chicago to Los Angeles on the 2400 mile historic Route 66 as a volunteer spokesperson for the National Pain Foundation and along the way he met with thousands of chronic pain patients and the medical community in hopes of increasing awareness and the education of chronic pain issues, treatment and resources. Dennis also walked to ease his own pain and found the walking to be very therapeutic, mentally, physically and spiritually. Dennis suffers from two painful progressive diseases; Paget’s disease, a degenerative bone disease, and ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine and joints.
Dennis was having back pain 6 years ago and it was difficult for doctors to find the cause and understand the degree of his chronic pain. Dennis says that his pain was not validated, since many doctors did not believe him and thought he was just suffering from stress and anxiety.
As he continued to seek treatment during a two year period, he was faced with a series of losses. He lost his job, insurance, custody of his kids and eventually his self identity. Finally, Dennis qualified for Mass Hospital Pain Clinic in Boston where he was diagnosed and began treatments.
Once Dennis’s Treatment began .… Dennis’s Journey began.
During his treatment, he took pain management classes and attended chronic pain support groups where he discovered common issues among other individuals in chronic pain. These common issues among other patients included dealing with the lose of jobs and security, seeking validation of their pain, and the difficulty for doctors to measure their pain.
He also heard success stories from patients and realized that they also had a key commonality - The power of belief. These patients felt that the medications, therapies and treatments are there to assist in the healing process, however, without the patient’s believing that they have the power to heal, then the treatments will not work as well.
This inspired Dennis to share the knowledge about pain management that he learned from talking with patients, psychologists, physical therapists and scientists and to share the spiritual, psychological and physical tools that worked for him to inspire others.
One of Dennis’s missions is to provide patients the understanding that self-power will aid in the healing process…..
“Patients need to realize that they are the ones that could heal themselves, not the doctor. A doctor or any professional is an assistant in the healing process. But without the patient’s belief system in it, then things don't work as well. Negativity gets in the way of the treatment and medications” said Kinch.
Dennis learned that through belief he felt empowered to live a happy and productive life. He says that although it is a constant journey with ups and downs, his attitude change to think positive has helped him gain a sense of control in his life.
Empower Yourself by Setting Attainable Goals
Dennis learned during his pain clinic treatment that setting attainable goals, such as walking was important to his overall rehabilitation. He began by taking small steps and taking short walks, increasing the distance each day. He set a goal of walking 3 miles to the local train station and when he eventually reached this goal, he continued walking since he found it to be beneficial in his healing process. He then set another goal of walking to Washington DC from Boston to talk with others in his situation and meet with legislatures regarding pain issues. He then undertook a 2400 mile journey to walk along Route 66 to met with others in chronic pain and share his experiences and knowledge as a volunteer spokesperson for the National Pain Foundation.
During the 2400 mile Route 66 walk, he felt he did accomplished his goals of not only raising awareness about pain issues and education about treatment and resources, but also bringing hope and inspiration to the patients that he met with in each town.